The Irish may or may not have invented whiskey (they spell it with an “e” as opposed to Scot and Canadians), but once you taste the best that the island has to offer today, you may believe they have created it.
Decades ago, Jameson, Bushmills, Paddy, and Tullamore Dew tasted light, smooth “clean”, pleasant, but offered little on lingering aftertaste, as did Scotch whiskies.
In the 19th century, Irish distilleries exported huge quantities of pot still whiskey derived from both malted and un-malted barley.
By late 29th century there were only two distilleries left due to the Irish Rebellion, the Depression, and two World Wars, and the ”Troubles”.
Emigration dwindled the population, and hence affected consumption.
In those days distilleries started using Coffey stills (columnar stills) and aged their whiskies for only a few months. Meanwhile, Scottish whisky merchants and distillers `discovered` blending, and how it changed flavour and texture not to mention cost.
Irish did not blend as their whiskies could compete with Scotch on price anytime and anywhere.
Irish whiskey in general is not `peat` kilned. Only hot air is used and distillers now use very large alembic stills.
These days, Coonemara Distillery makes and markets a few `peated` Irish whiskies, but so far, it is the only establishment that does it.
In the 1930`s distilleries needed to reduce cost for low-end products. In order to cut cost, they started bending regular whiskies with grain distillates. This made them `tame` and insipid.
By 1980`s, taking a lesson from Scottish distilleries who had much success with their single malt whiskies aged in Sherry, Bourbon, Port, Bordeaux or Burgundy barrels, Irish distilleries started emphasising flavour, texture, smoothness and `character` in an attempt to cater to a more demanding market. Now they are experimenting with old recipes incorporating mixing barley with pats and rye, aging longer, for some 12 years or longer.
There are now three distilleries in Ireland of which two are owned by Pernod-Ricard from France and the other which opened in 1987 with capital from local sources north of Dublin.
Irish whiskey is less “spicy”, and somewhat lighter than its Scottish counterpart.
The Vintages division of the L C B O frequently offers fine Irish whiskies.
Cask Strength Peated Single malt 12 Years Old, at 60 per cent ABV,
18-Year-Old Limited Reserve, Jameson
Ten-Year-Old Single malt, Bushmills
are some that are available from time to time.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.