Guide to Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey, made famous by brands such as Jameson and Teelings, is similar in its production method to Scotch but varies in some critical areas, making it a completely unique tasting experience definitely worth investigating.

Irish Whiskey vs Scotch Whisky

One of the most crucial points of difference that makes Irish whiskey so popular is that it is almost always distilled at least three times, making it smoother than most bottles of Scotch, which are usually only distilled twice.

Some other notable points of difference include that it must be made within Ireland, that the distiller is allowed to add enzymes during the distillation process to help convert starches into sugars before fermentation, and finally, whilst Scotch whisky is often peated, Irish whiskey is typically left unpeated, making it easier and more approachable to drink.

Other than this, Irish whiskey shares the same three year minimum ageing process as Scotch whisky has and producers must add “blended” to any product that combines two or more different grain whiskeys into the same bottle.

To learn more on how Irish whiskey differs from Scotch, read this insightful article.

Types of Irish Whiskey

When it comes to the production of Irish whiskey, it is important to note that the rules and regulations around production are far laxer than those around some other dark spirits, such as Scotch whisky.

This means that although Irish whiskey can be labelled “single pot still”, “single malt”, “single grain”, or “blended”, these are not legally defined terms that are set into Irish law, making it up to the distillery to provide the correct label for their product.

Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Single Pot Irish Whiskey Production Process

Single pot still Irish whiskey, made up of a combination of malted and unmalted barley at one distillery using only a pot still, is usually known to be spicier and thicker in taste and texture than other variants of Irish whiskey.

A famous example is Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey.

Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Single Malt Irish Whiskey Production Process

Single malt Irish whiskey must be made using only malted barley from only one distillery, exactly the same as Scotch whisky, but is known for being smoother in taste than Scotch due to it usually being triple-distilled.

A famous example is Bushmills 16 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Single Grain Irish Whiskey

Single Grain Irish Whiskey Production Process

Though rare to find, single grain Irish whiskey can be made from any number of grains distilled in a column or Coffey still at only one distillery, a process known for producing a lighter, more neutral taste.

A famous example is Teelings Single Grain Irish Whiskey.

Blended Irish Whiskey

Blended Irish Whiskey Production Process

Blended Irish whiskey is the combination of any of the previously described types of whiskey from any number of distilleries in an intricate process that seeks to craft a uniquely flavoured whiskey.

Blended whiskey represents the largest portion of Irish whiskies on the market, with a famous example being the Tullamore Dew Blended Irish Whiskey.

Types of Irish Whiskey Quick Guide

Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
  • One distillery
  • Pot still
  • Malted & unmalted barley
Single Malt Irish Whiskey
  • One distillery
  • Pot still
  • Only malted barley
Single Grain Irish Whiskey
  • One distillery
  • All grain types
  • Column or Coffey still
Blended Irish Whiskey
  • Multiple distilleries
  • Blend of single malts, single grain, or single pot still whiskey
  • Column, Coffey, or pot still

Map of Irish Whiskey Distilleries & Brands

Map of Irish Whiskey Distilleries

The number of Irish whiskey distilleries, once almost numbering zero by the turn of the 21st century, have now exploded due to a surge in demand for what is one of the fastest growing spirit categories in the world.

Perhaps the most prestigious whiskey distillery in Ireland, The New Midleton Distillery is famous for producing Jameson but also ranks Powers, Paddy, Midleton, Redbreast, Green Spot and a few other lesser known brands among their lineup.

Other notable distilleries include the Cooley Distillery, known for producing brands such Connemara, Michael Collins, Tyrconnell and other lesser known whiskey brands, and the Old Bushmills Distillery, which produces all Bushmills branded whiskey, as well as Black Bush and 1608.

In addition to these and other more established Irish whiskey distilleries, there are a large number of new entrants to the market that include large operations and smaller craft whiskey producers.

For more recommended bottles, read this article or explore the curated selection of whiskeys available here.

Pairing Food with Irish Whiskey

As with almost all whiskies around the world, Irish whiskey is best served neat, with a splash of water, or over ice so as to be able to enjoy the flavours inherent in each bottle that you choose.

When deciding upon which Irish whiskey to enjoy first, be sure to look for those that are unpeated and triple-distilled, representative of most Irish whiskies available on the market.

Some recommended products to try in the beginning are Knappogue 12-Year Single Malt, known for being lighter and fruitier in taste and texture than other smokier and heavier variants, and Green Spot Single Pot Still, which is again known for its fruity notes as well as toffee and malty flavours.

Pairing Food with Irish Whiskey

Considering that most Irish whiskeys are lighter and more floral in texture and taste, foods that pair with this style are typically lighter in flavour and texture also, including sushi, canapes, and other light dishes.

Peated Irish whiskeys or those heavier in style go well with fuller flavoured dishes and foods, such as smoked salmon, fatter cuts of meat, or salty fish.

There's a bottle of Irish whiskey out there for everyone. Here are some of the brands and bottles that we recommend you look out for the next time you're browsing whiskey online or in-store.

Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition Irish Blended Whiskey Tasting Notes
Smooth & great for sipping or mixing, this is a unique Irish whiskey with flavours of sweet vanilla & subtly crisp pepper.

Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition

Irish Blended Whiskey

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