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
- 4 ounces coffee (strong, rich; brewed, hot)
- 1 1/2 ounce Irish whiskey
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 ounce heavy cream (lightly whipped)
- Place the brown sugar into a warm Irish coffee glass, mug, or other heat-proof glass.
- Add the coffee and stir until dissolved.
- Add the Irish whiskey and stir again.
- Float the lightly whipped heavy cream on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon.
- Do not stir again. Instead, drink the coffee through the cream.
Jameson and Ginger
- 1 1/2 ounces Jameson Irish Whiskey
- 5 ounces ginger ale
- 1 squeeze of lime (wedge)
- 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!
- 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
- 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!