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Where does Whiskey come from? From the liquor store? Sure. From Ireland? Well, obviously. From Whiskeyland? Okay, now you’re just being silly.
Answer #2 is actually true; we give you that. Dating back to 1405, Irish Whiskey is one of Europe’s earliest distilled drinks! While everyone was starting to feel a bit renaissancy, an industrious bunch of monks used their perfume-distilling skills and conjured a Spirit they called Uisce Beatha - Water of Life.
By the 17th century, everyone and their Mam produced Whiskey, and in 1609, the Old Bushmills Distillery became the world’s first licensed Whiskey maker.
The Scots saw it and figured they should join the racket, dropped the ‘e’ for clarity, and took advantage of another Irish invention (the column still) to conquer the world. But we’re here for the OG.
Obviously, Irish Whiskey must be distilled and matured on the island of Ireland (bad luck, Ireland, West Virginia!), has to be distilled at a max of 94.8% ABV, and must spend at least three years maturing in oak. When bottled, Irish Whiskey should be at least 40% ABV. Fun fact: the age statement must refer to the age of the youngest Whiskey used.
This trio of Irish Whiskeys was curated to give you a complete picture and a fair idea of what Irish Whiskey is.
The Eire tasting starts with Bushmills 10-Year-Old Irish Whiskey, a superb and fruity-forward winner of ‘Best Irish Single Malt’ at the 2007 World Whiskies Awards. It comes from the aforementioned first Whiskey distiller in the world and is, honestly, a must-have essential in any Whiskey lover’s home bar.
Limavady Irish Whiskey is an enigmatic, fruity, and floral gem, matured in a combo of ex-Bourbon and PX Sherry casks. It’s a rebirth of an old family tradition revived by former Bushmills Master Distiller Darryl McNally. Watch out for those fruity notes and the lovely maltiness!
The Sexton Single Malt is a creation of Master Blender Alex Thomas, made from 100% Irish malted barley and matured in Oloroso Sherry casks. It’s opulent, fruity, and oh-so-smooth.
Now, go tasting. Sláinte!
1) Irish Whiskey saw a considerable decline in the 20th century. You can thank US Prohibition for that. Americans were huge fans of the sweet, mild, and gentle Irish tipple — they kept 160 distilleries humming with business. But by the time the 80s rolled around, only two were left.
2) Today, over 30 distilleries in Ireland are already up and running or in the process of being built, making Irish Whiskey one of the most dynamic Spirit categories out there. We’re suckers for a good comeback story.
3) Ireland has a proud history of producing great fighters — boxers, to be exact. One of their finest: Mike McTigue, the light heavyweight boxing champion of the world from 1923-1925. His 1923 bout against Battling Siki went on for a grueling 20 rounds before McTigue was proclaimed the winner. After a forced retirement at age 38, McTigue went on to run a successful bar on Long Island.
4) In the U.S., Irish Whiskey sales have jumped by over 500% since 2002. It’s the fastest growing category in the Spirits industry. There’s some news to raise your glass to.
5) There are three general Irish Whiskey varieties: ‘grain Whiskey’, primarily derived from corn, ‘malted barley Pot-Still-Distilled’, and ‘Pure Pot Still’ (or ‘Single Pot Still’ as it’s now officially known) — a combination of malted, unmalted ‘green’ barley distilled in copper pot stills.
6) The Battle of The Alamo, one of America’s most iconic stories of fight and might, was fought by a strong contingent of Irishmen. In fact, the Irish tricolor is one of seven international flags flown at the site to acknowledge their contributions.
7) The Buena Vista Café in San Francisco has served over 30 million cups of Irish coffee. Here’s the recipe: heat together four parts of coffee and one tablespoon of brown sugar in a pre-heated, clear-stemmed glass. Then, when the sugar dissolves, add two parts of quality Irish Whiskey, stir and then wait for the brew to still. Over the backside of a hot teaspoon, pour the lightly whipped fresh cream (neither stiff nor runny), capping the mix below.