Award Winning Irish Whiskey Brands

Just a few weeks ago The Annual Irish Whiskey Awards were held in Ireland. So we thought it was time to take a look at the best and brightest of what has become a booming industry once more. In fact, for the first time in history, yearly shipments are over 20 million to the United States and that equalled over a billion dollars in sales. Irish Whiskey is no longer a best kept secret. The door hasn’t just been opened, it’s been kicked in. Let’s learn a bit more about one of the fastest growing drinks in the world.

If you are looking to try some of the best then here is the list to choose from:

Best Whiskey of The Year
Walsh Whiskey – “Irishman 17 year old”
Best Irish Single Pot Still
Irish Distillers – Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy
Best Irish Blended Whiskey 
Irish Distillers – Jameson Black Barrel
Best Irish Single Malt 12 Years and Younger
Echlinville Distillery – Dunville’s PX Cask 12 – year old
Best Irish Single Malt 13 Years and Up
Teeling Whiskey Company – Brabazon Volume 1

What Qualifies An Irish Whiskey

Just like Scotch Whiskey (you can find the article here), Irish Whiskey has some rules in place to make sure its integrity is not compromised. Here’s a rundown of the regulations:

Legal definition – Irish whiskey is a protected European Geographical Indication (GI) under Regulation (EC) No 110/2008. As of 29 January 2016, production, labelling and marketing of Irish whiskey must be verified by the Irish revenue authorities as conforming with the Department of Agriculture’s 2014 technical file for Irish whiskey.

Key specifications for Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey must be distilled on the island of Ireland (comprising the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) from a mash of malted cereals with or without whole grains of other cereals and which has been:

  • saccharified by the diastase of malt contained therein, with or without other natural enzymes
  • fermented by the action of yeast
  • distilled at an alcoholic strength of less than 94.8% alcohol by volume in such a way that the distillate has an aroma and taste derived from the materials used;
  • subject to the maturation of the final distillate for at least three years in wooden casks, such as oak.
  • The distillate, to which only water and plain caramel colouring may be added must retain its colour, aroma and taste derived from the production process referred to above
  • Irish whiskey is to have a minimum alcohol content of 40%
  • Individual technical specifications for the three varieties of Irish whiskey, “single pot still”, “single malt”, “single grain”, and “blended” whiskey (a mix of these two or more of these varieties) are also outlined in the technical file.
  • Maturation only takes place on the island of Ireland

Historical Significance Of Irish Whiskey

Irish Whiskey is one of the earliest distilled drinks in Europe. Irish Monks are believed to have brought the process of distilling back with them from travels to the Mediteranean around 1000 A.D. and shortly after was modified for alcohol. Irish Whiskey has been known to have been produced since the 12th century but there weren’t any official written record until 1405. 

In 1608, The First license was granted to Sir Thomas Phillips by King James I. This establishes Old Bushmills Distillery as the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world. It was shortly after that England required distillers to license their distilleries by registering and paying taxes. 

It was established, as recently as  2016, that Irish Whiskey had to be labeled correctly. This meant including the style of Whiskey that it was. Here are the different kinds of whiskey:

Single malt Irish whiskey – made entirely from malted barley distilled in a pot still within a single distillery are referred to as single malt whiskeys, a style also very commonly associated with Scotch whisky. These may be double or triple distilled.

Single pot still whiskey – made from a mixture of malted and unmalted barley completely distilled in a pot still within a single distillery. This differs from single malt whiskey through the inclusion of raw, unmalted grain in the mash. This style has also historically been referred to as “pure pot still” whiskey and “Irish pot still whiskey”, with older bottlings and memorabilia often bearing these names.

Grain whiskey – produced from continuous distillation in a column or Coffey still, rather than a pot still, is referred to as grain whiskey. This may be produced from a variety of grains. Lighter and more neutral in taste, this spirit is rarely found on its own, though some examples exist. The vast majority of grain whiskey is used to make blended whiskey, a product made by mixing column still product with richer and more intense pot still product.

Blended whiskey – A mixture of the above styles. Regardless of whether the blended whiskey is made from combining grain whiskey with either single malt whiskey or with single pot still whiskey or both, it is labelled with the same terminology. Blended whiskeys are now the most common style of both Irish and Scotch whiskeys.

Creative Recipes For Irish Whiskey

Irish Coffee

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces coffee (strong, rich; brewed, hot)
  • 1 1/2 ounce ​Irish whiskey
  • 2 teaspoons ​brown sugar
  • 1 ounce heavy cream (lightly whipped)

Steps

  1. Place the brown sugar into a warm Irish coffee glass, mug, or other heat-proof glass.
  2. Add the coffee and stir until dissolved.
  3. Add the Irish whiskey and stir again.
  4. Float the lightly whipped heavy cream on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon.
  5. Do not stir again. Instead, drink the coffee through the cream.
  6. Enjoy!

Jameson and Ginger

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 5 ounces ​ginger ale
  • 1 squeeze of lime (wedge)

Steps 

  • Pour the whiskey into a highball glass filled with ice.
  • Fill with ginger ale.
  • Squeeze a lime wedge over the drink and drop it in.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Irish Gold

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Irish whiskey (Tullamore Dew)
  • 1/2 ounce peach schnapps
  • Splash orange juice
  • 4 ounces ginger ale (or enough to fill)
  • Garnish: lime wheel

Steps

  • Gather the ingredients.
  • Build the whiskey, schnapps, and juice in a collins glass filled with ice.​
  • Top with ginger ale. Garnish with a lime wheel.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Here at hmmwhat2drink.com, we strive for a commitment to excellence. We enjoy our beers, spirits, and specialty drinks as much as the next, but we urge you to drink responsibly. These articles and recipes are intended for adults and as such, should be used in the proper context. So have fun, relax, but do it responsibly in your home or with a designated driver. If you have any suggestions please email us at hmmwhat2drink@gmail.com.

HmmWhat2Drink.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.