Irish Charm

Irish whiskey, with its distinctive character and easy affordability, is undergoing an exciting renaissance. Distilleries both established and new are firing their stills, with fresh releases standing shoulder to shoulder with classic favourites.

 

With the global rise of whisky's popularity in the past decade, it was only a matter of time before Ireland’s famed uisce beatha ("water of life") gained traction among enthusiasts. While only four main distilleries were operating in 2013, there are currently 18 at varying levels of production. Now, even smaller distillers can flourish, introducing an impressive range of authentic tastes — often at a price that offers great value. With such smooth flavours and approachable prices, it's easy to explore the range of characters and styles — pick up a few and enjoy a flight with friends.


A Spirited History

Fast becoming a customer favourite, Irish whiskey has a tale that is as tumultuous and tenacious as the history of the Emerald Isle itself. In the early 19th century, Ireland was considered the world’s major whiskey producer. It was home to Aeneas Coffey, who invented the column still that allowed for a more efficient, continuous production cycle. However, his invention wasn't embraced by Irish whiskey producers, most of whom remained loyal to the traditional pot still process. Rebuffed, Coffey headed east to set up shop and was instrumental in helping Scotch become the world’s whisky of choice.

 

Irish whiskey continued to weather setbacks that curbed its ability to keep pace with Scotch’s broad appeal: a temperance movement in the mid-19th century, a trade war with Britain that limited exports, and Prohibition in 1920. The industry was eventually forced to consolidate into a few distilleries. (This is why Irish whiskey sports that extra "e": while merging under a single company in the 1970s, Irish Distillers Limited standardized their products under one name.)

 

A few labels managed to keep Ireland’s whiskey reputation intact, most notably, the famed blends from Bushmills and Jameson. Both names are still revered and deeply entrenched in Irish culture, and in fact, the original Jameson Distillery on Bow Street in Dublin — which opened in 1780 — still stands as a monument to the treasured craft.


Inside a Glass of Irish Whiskey

Blends (such as those popularized by Jameson and Bushmills) typically combine grain and malt whiskeys.

 

 Irish single malts, like their Scottish counterparts, must be distilled from a mash of only malted barley at a single distillery and then aged in oak for three years.

 

Irish grain whiskeys remain a relatively new category and involve the distillation of corn, wheat, rye or barley, or a combination of these grains.

 

Most recognizable and exclusive to Ireland, though, are single pot or pure pot still whiskeys, which employ a mix of malted and unmalted barley. Originally, the addition of unmalted barley was for economics, but the resulting taste revealed a spicier character that caught on. That pure pot still method is a classic way to produce Irish whiskey.

 

Ready to try it for yourself?  Browse our array of Irish whiskeys, or start with these expert picks.

 


Start Exploring

The Temple Bar Signature Blend Irish Whiskey

This offering comes from the family behind the famed iconic Dublin pub. Aging the whiskey in second-fill bourbon casks imparts a light, soft sweetness, as touches of vanilla, red berries and spice share the stage. Oak and spice glance through a honeyed finish.

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Flaming Pig Black Cask Irish Whiskey

Named for the squealing swine who alerted Dublin to the great whiskey fire of 1875, this small batch blend of single grain and single malt Irish whiskey is finished in deeply charred bourbon casks. The result: Rich aromas of butterscotch, deep marzipan and vanilla flavours and a smooth finish.

 

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The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey

This historic brand was brought out of dormancy by a new distiller in the ’80s. A single malt of luxurious character that’s rich and substantial in flavour, it combines sweet shades of malt, dried apricot, marmalade and vanilla that ease out over a lengthy finish.  

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