The History of Irish Whiskey
No surprise that Irish whiskey is produced in Ireland. The word “whiskey” is derived from the Irish words “uisce beatha”, which translates to “water of life”. Whiskey was once the world’s most sought-after spirit due to its few simple ingredients that could deliver finely balanced, nuanced and complex flavor profiles. However, the industry suffered a prolonged decline from the late 1800s until the early 1900s.
By the 1890s, there were at least 28 Irish distilleries. By 1966, there were only two. By 1972, the remaining two distilleries, the world’s oldest licensed Bushmills Distillery, and Old Midleton Distillery, which produces Jameson and Writers’ Tears, were owned by a single company, Irish Distillers. The end of the monopoly came with the opening of Cooley Distillery in 1987. During the past decades, Irish whiskey online has been one of the fastest-growing spirits in the world, with exports growing by more than 15% per year. As of December 2019, 32 Irish distilleries are operating, with more planned or under construction.
How Irish Whiskey is Made
Irish whiskey was so appealing to produce because of its few ingredients, including grains, water, and yeast. The main grains in some of the best Irish whiskey production are malted and unmalted barley. Unmalted barley gives some of the finest Irish whiskeys their nutty, oily taste. Unmalted barley is only used to make Irish pot still whiskey. Peat is rarely used; only a few Irish whiskeys are made with peat.
The malted barley undergoes a process known as malting, which involves steeping the barley in water to allow it to germinate. This process releases enzymes that break down complex starches into easier-to-digest and more fermentable sugars. After soaking the grist, hot water separates the wort from the mashed grain. This sweet liquid is then transferred to wooded or steel-lined washbacks, where yeast is added. By distilling, the alcohol is separated from the incoming wash and condensed. Pot still distillation produces a fuller-flavored spirit, while distillations using column stills will produce a lighter and more delicate product.
Global Allure of Irish Whiskey
Irish whiskey, once a local treasure, now captures hearts worldwide. Its allure comes from the triple distillation process that produces its unique smoothness. This is the main characteristic that sets it apart from other whiskies. The whiskey industry is one of the fastest growing in the world, and there are four distinct types of whiskeys: the Irish Blend, the Single Malt, the Single Grain, and the classic Single Pot Still. Let’s explore the characteristics of each Irish whiskey type and what makes them unique:
Irish Blend: Blended Irish whiskey is Ireland's most popular export. A blended whiskey is a whiskey made from two distinct components: malted barley and unmalted barley. The term ‘blended Irish whiskey’ was first used in 1878 by a group of Dublin distillers who wanted to create a lighter, easier-to-drink whiskey. Jameson is one of the most well-known Irish blends in the world.
Single Malt Whiskey: Single-malt Irish whiskey follows the same rules as single-malt scotch. It must be 100% malted from a single distillery in Ireland, aged for at least three years in oak barrels, and then bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). Single-malt Irish whiskeys are also double distilled, unlike traditional Irish triple distillations such as Teeling Single Malt.
Single-Grain Irish Whiskey: Single-grain whiskeys are made from whole grains or other cereals such as maize and wheat. They must be distilled at one distillery. These whiskeys are not as well-known in Ireland as the other types. Teeling Distilleries are among the few Irish distilleries that make single-grain whiskeys, such as Teeling Single Grain Wine Cask Whiskey.
Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey: Single pot still Irish whiskey is produced and bottled by one distillery. It is made from a blend of malted barley and unglazed barley distilled in a single pot. Single pot still Irish must also be made in Ireland. The single pot still whiskey mash gives it a unique spiciness known as “pot still character”.
Choosing the Perfect Irish Whiskey
Selecting the perfect Irish whiskey online is a skill. Browse our extensive range with assurance, considering age, blend and the difference between a single malt and a pot still. Beginners can enjoy the easy-drinking profiles of Jameson, while seasoned connoisseurs are drawn to the intricacy of craft distilleries. Whether you’re looking for a classic or a modern expression, find your perfect bottle at Blackwell’s Wines & Spirits. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced whiskey connoisseur. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy your whiskey tasting:
Look: Look at the color, the clarity, and the viscosity of the whiskey. Hold your glass to a light to see how clear and deep the spirit is. Swirl the whiskey to witness the viscosity or "legs" on your glass.
Smell the whiskey: Take a deep breath and smell the aroma of the whiskey. Try to detect some scents like fruit, spices, smoke, and wood. As the terroir influences each batch, the water, climate, soil, topography, and surrounding plants also infuse the flavor.
Taste: Let the whiskey coat your mouth and take a small sip before swallowing or spitting it out. See if you can taste flavors like sweetness, spice, smokiness, and even the aftertaste. Does the flavor stay in your mouth, or does it disappear quickly? You should add some water to open some of the flavors.
Water: Experiment with different amounts of water to find the best balance.
Note-taking: Make notes of your observations, such as the color, the aroma, the flavor, and the finish. This will help you remember your favorite whiskeys.
Why Choose Blackwell’s Wines & Spirits?
Blackwell's Wines & Spirits offers an incredible range of Irish whiskey online to suit all tastes and budgets. You can count on us for quality, unbeatable prices, and fast shipping. Our carefully curated selection, inspired by a passion for great spirits, ensures you have access to the best Irish whiskeys available. With Blackwell's, you're not just buying a bottle but investing in an experience. When buying Irish whiskey online from us, every sip will prove our commitment to bringing top-quality spirits straight to your door. Enjoy the best and most nuanced selection with every Blackwell's Wines & Spirits purchase.
Unravelling Tradition and Innovation
There’s more to whiskey than meets the eye. It’s a rich tapestry of tradition and innovation, and each bottle celebrates the past, present and future. Blackwell’s is your one-stop shop for some of the best Irish whiskey online. Take your tasting experience to the next level with our Irish whiskey. Each bottle is a gateway to a whiskey experience that will transport you to the heart of Éire country’s rich history and vibrant modern charm. Start your whiskey journey with us today!