Irish Whiskey has a very long and distinguished history. It may not have reached the same market penetration in America that Scotch has, but it is no lesser a product for that. Indeed the very word Whiskey comes from the Irish word “Fuisce” . Irish Whiskey makers kept the small batch pot still method, feeling that it sacrificed quality for large scale production. The micro distillation process allowed for a lot of variety and variation in Irish Whiskey lines.
Irish Whisky is now the fastest growing Spirit line in the United States, growing at 19% per annum. I t is also being pushed in a co-ordinated manner by Irish exporters we well, so this trend should continue. Importantly it is not confining itself to Irish America but aiming for Whiskey afficionado’s in general.
Irish Whiskeys are usually distilled 3 times, as opposed to Scotch twice and America once. It also more unusually features malted and unmalted grain. Like all Whiskies the timber and the water and local ingredients impart a unique taste to the product as well.
The Best Irish Whiskies are:
1. Green Spot Whiskey
This pure Pot Still Whiskey is still made in Copper Stills, is quiet inique in that is is a Single Pot Still Whiskey, the only one of its type. John Murray the Whiskey gury, considers this one of the finest Whiskey’s of any type in the world. This whiskey is made by the famous Midelton distillery in Cork. It was first produced in the 1800’s for the private use of the Mitchell family, indeed they are still the main sellers of the fine Irish Whiskey. It is quiet reasonably priced at 29 euro’s a bottle, given theawards and reputation that it has. Only 1200 bottles a year are produced, so it should be snapped up, if at all possible when you see it.
2. Connemara Whiskey
At one stage Peated Whiskies were more common in Ireland but over time they have died out, the abundance of other materials also affected this style of Whiskey. This is the only Irish peated Whiskey remaining and the Cooley Distiller put a lot of effort in to it, it is an excellent award winning Whiskey, that will stand toe to toe with any fine peated Scotch. What is a nice touch for this one, is that it is Cask strength bottled. If the Whiskey is 42% in the Cask, it is bottled at that. There is no adulteration of the product. This is a Whiskey that prides itself on following the traditional school and have variations from batch to batch.
3. Knappogue Whiskey
This Whiskey from the Tullamore Distillery was bought in large casks in the 1950’s and stored in Knappogue Castle, till the 1990’s. They were never bottled till then, and were carefully selected to blend in to a fine Whiskey. The 1951 Whiskey is considered the best of all Irish Whiskies and exceptionaly unique, a real testament to an old style distillery. It is at 1200 dollars a bottle, on the expensive side, but there are now making similiar style versions at 8 and 12 years of age, that are affordable. This is my favourite Irish Whiskey by some margin.