Irish Whiskey

Whiskey traces its very origins to Ireland in the 1600s, and for centuries, Irish whiskey was the most popular spirit in the world. Only in the 20th century did Scotch finally surpass it, at which point Irish fell into decline. Irish whiskey differs from its Scottish cousin in several ways. To begin, the Irish spell “whiskey” with an “e.” More importantly, Irish whiskey is rarely made entirely from malted barley. Dating back to their efforts to dodge the British Malt tax of 1785, the Irish coupled raw, unmalted barley with malted barley to make their mash. This resulted in the development vanilla notes that remain more pronounced in most Irish whiskeys. Today, there are several notable single malt Irish whiskeys, but they remain the exceptions. As well, Irish whiskey is typically triple distilled whereas most Scotch is distilled only twice. To be labeled Irish whiskey, the distillate must be aged in wood casks for at least three years. Varieties of Irish whiskey include “single pot still” (which provides the most distinctively “Irish” spirit), “single malt,” “single grain,” and “blended.” Single pot still whiskeys, such as Redbreast and Green Spot, are made at a single distillery using a copper pot still and a blended mashbill that includes malted and unmalted barley as noted above. After years of decline, the popularity of Irish whiskey has exploded in recent years, and whereas there were only three distilleries in operation 20 years ago (Bushmills, Cooley, and Midleton), there are at least 18 today, all creating distinctive whiskeys that build upon and also challenge Ireland’s long whiskey-making tradition.

Top Irish Whiskey Posts:

On Toasts and Irish Whiskey for St. Patrick’s Day
A Visit to Dublin’s Teeling Whiskey
Tasting Report: Jameson Rare and Reserve Irish Whiskeys

Review: Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask Finish Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | December 31, 2017 |

Here’s an interesting variant from Tullamore D.E.W.: Cider Cask Finish, now available in the U.S. on a seasonal basis (in and around the fall — sorry, we’re a bit late with the writeup). Previously available in Ireland and Travel Retail, the D.E.W. folks say this is “the first whiskey to be finished in hard apple…

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Review: Egan’s Single Grain Irish Whiskey Vintage Grain 2009

By Christopher Null | December 16, 2017 |

In 2013, Egan’s Single Malt hit the market as a new Irish whiskey brand. Now Egan’s is out with a second offering, a single grain. Unlike the Single Malt, Egan’s Single Grain doesn’t merely carry an age statement — this is an eight year old, though that’s not stated in exactly those terms on the…

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Review: Jameson The Blender’s Dog Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | November 29, 2017 |

Jameson began its Whiskey Makers Series with last year’s lackluster The Cooper’s Croze (celebrating the impact of wood and the barrel on its whiskey) with this second release in the trilogy: The Blender’s Dog. For those not steeped in whiskey lore, the dog doesn’t represent a furry friend but rather a long copper tube that…

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Review: Kilbeggan Single Grain Irish Whiskey

By Christopher Null | November 26, 2017 |

Venerable Irish brand Kilbeggan (the oldest in Ireland) — see our coverage of its standard blend here — has largely been a single-product operation for most of its existence. Things are on the move here, though, as Kilbeggan has just launched a single grain whiskey to expand the portfolio. What’s single grain? Kilbeggan reminds us:…

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Drinkhacker’s 2017 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 23, 2017 |

It’s our tenth anniversary, and our tenth holiday gift guide! After more than 5500 posts — the bulk of them product reviews — we’ve written millions of words on all things quaffable, and as always, we select the cream of the crop to highlight in our annual holiday buying guide. Consider it a “best of…

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Review: Knappogue Castle 12 Years Old (2017)

By Christopher Null | November 20, 2017 |

This is our third go-round with Knappogue Castle’s entry-level bottling, a 12 year old Irish single malt. (See also 2010 and 2014 reviews.) The labeling has changed since our last encounter — but judging from our review, not much appears to be different inside the bottle since ’14. Some fresh thoughts follow. Quite malty on…

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Review: The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey 16 Years Old

By Christopher Null | October 28, 2017 |

Looking for an Irish whiskey that tastes like it could be from Scotland? Tyrconnell’s 16 year old single malt is just the thing to do the trick. It helps of course that it’s a double-distilled, single malt whiskey with ample age on it — all from bourbon barrels — and that it’s bottled with a bit more…

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Tasting Report: WhiskyFest San Francisco 2017

By Christopher Null | October 24, 2017 |

San Francisco’s WhiskyFest seemed as popular as ever this year, kicked off with the stampede to the Pappy Van Winkle booth that always marks the start of the show. As always, there was plenty to enjoy at this year’s event — both new expressions and classic old friends ready for tasting. Here’s a full rundown…

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Review: Bushmills Single Malt Irish Whiskey 21 Years Old

By Drew Beard | October 22, 2017 |

If you haven’t already noticed, whiskey prices are going up across the board, particularly for older single malts. The record for a single bottle price at auction exceeded six figures just last year (a Yamazaki from Japan, no less), and there’s still no sign we’ve hit the ceiling. Even readily available older single malts, like…

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Review: Slane Irish Whiskey (2017)

By Christopher Null | September 20, 2017 |

Remember Slane Castle Irish Whiskey? Of course not. Brown-Forman bought the brand a few years ago, and even then it was hard to find in the U.S. Now it’s been relaunched, rebranded — the “Castle” is now gone, leaving just “Slane” — and a distillery of its own is being build in Ireland. The current…

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