The stereotype of Irish whiskey is that it is lighter and less complex than Scotch whisky. We don’t like stereotypes, or generalisations, so lets move that nonsense to one side, and look at how Irish whiskey is made, and what it tastes like.
Just like in Scotland, the Irish make:
- Double distilled single malt whiskey
- Triple distilled single malt whiskey
- Grain whiskey
- Peated whiskey
- Unpeated whiskey
The biggest difference in production comes from Ireland’s biggest producer, Irish Distillers, who produce single pot still whiskey.
Single Pot Still Whiskey
Single pot still whiskey is produced like a single malt whiskey, but they use a percentage of un-malted barley in the process.
We find that single pot still whisky has a complexity, oiliness, richness and fruitiness that makes a mockery of the so called light nature of Irish whiskey. Our sister company, Royal Mile Whiskies, has sold Redbreast 12 (Irish distillers flagship single pot still whiskey) for many years and it has flown off the shelves (pardon the pun) due to its complexity.
Currently, Irish whiskey is going through a period of unprecedented growth, both at the large scale and the smaller brands
Some of the figures:
- Projected doubling of exports by 2020 from current 6.2 million cases to over 12 million cases
- Jameson volumes have increased from 400,000 cases in the late 1980’s, to over 4 million cases in 2012.
- Growth in America is up nearly 400% since 2002.
- 11 new distilleries projected to open, so small distilleries see the opportunity to grow too.
- Huge expansion of Midleton, the home of Jameson, doubling their production capacity to 64million litres of alcohol, 20 million single pot still.
- Teeling Distillery in Dublin (should be producing in 2015)
- Dingle Distillery (Vodka & Gin available now)
- Alltech Distillery in Country Carlow (and soon a new distillery in Dublin)
- Echlinville Distillery (Spirit should be available by 2016)
- Teeling Great North Distillery
- Walsh Whiskey Distillery
Where to start
We would recommend giving different Irish whiskies a taste. It is an exciting part of the whisky category, and it is going to grow and grow.
Redbreast 12 Year Old Single Pot Still Whiskey
Sherry and Bourbon casks
40% Abv. Buy it here
Nose: A gingerbread, vanilla and cake aroma, with big bursts of fresh oaky notes, followed by apple notes, melon, pears and strawberries.
Palate: Vanilla notes, followed by Christmas cake, butter icing and stewed apples. Nice spicy finish.
Teeling Single Malt
A vatting of whiskies finished in Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy & Cabernet Sauvignon
46% Abv. Buy it here
Nose: Figs, toffee and full aromas balanced with a vibrant melon and lemon note.
Palate: Dry fruits, citrus, vanilla, spice and cloves. The finish shows some of the tannic notes of the wood.
Jameson Select Reserve Blend
Sherry and Bourbon Oak Casks
A mixture of Grain Whiskey & Single Pot Still Whiskey
40% Abv. Buy it here
Nose: Rich and full, with exotic fruits including nectarines, apricot and papaya. Succulent.
Palate: Creamy and fruity, followed by waves of vanilla, toasted wood and spices.