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The ruling dons of the Irish Whiskey clans have had a stronghold on their juice for a great many years, each infamous in their own right. You know who we’re talkin’ about. But there’s some young blood with their eyes on the global prize and they ain’t ones to be underestimated.
Spry, bold, and thirsty for fame, these fresh upstarts aren’t the typical Eire old guard. They’ve got their own method for making things happen and the top dogs are taking notice.
Now, we’re not saying they "paint houses" or nothin’, but these Whiskey wildcards aren’t afraid of trying new things to get the attention they deserve, all while honoring Irish tradition.
So, what exactly makes Irish Whiskey, well, "Irish Whiskey"? Unlike the Scots, the Irish traditionally triple distill their juice from unmalted barley (Scots have a penchant for malt and double-distillation). Irish law also decrees that all Whiskey must be aged for a minimum of three years in barrels, most of which previously housed Sherry, Bourbon, or Rum. All of which to say, Irish Whiskey is a hell of a smooth talker — especially when compared to its peaty Scottish brethren.
History hasn’t been exactly kind to Irish Whiskey. After a blindingly bright peak in the late 18th century, Irish Whiskey pulled an Icarus and plummeted to its near death in the 20th century, with only two distilleries holding down the fort for almost a century. But that’s all changing. A new crop of distilleries is taking up the torch and lighting the path beyond the island of Eire with great Irish Whiskey.
Take Hyde, for instance. Their Hyde No. 4 Single Malt Irish Whiskey is matured for six years in ex-Bourbon casks and finished in Rum casks sourced from the Caribbean. J.J. Corry ‘The Hanson’ Batch No. 2, a blend of ten-year-old Single Grain and four-year-old Single Grain Whiskies — both matured in ex-Bourbon barrels. And finally, Jack Ryan Beggars Bush 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey, a revival of a classic brand that won Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. You don’t have to be a mob boss to know that when it comes to good talent, it’s best to bring ‘em into the fold. Time to raise your glass and make a toast to the next generation.
1) About 250 years ago, Irish Whiskey was the most popular Spirit in the world, boasting 1,228 registered distilleries in Ireland. But several bad historic turns — like the introduction of the Coffey still and U.S. Prohibition — devastated the industry, slashing the number of operational distilleries to just two by the 1980s.
2) Today, the number of Whiskey distilleries operating in Ireland has increased to 31, which is the highest number of operational Irish distilleries on record since 1900.
3) Danny "The Irishman" Greene was a gangster who came to power in the 1970s with his gang "The Celtic Club." They often battled the Italian-American mafia to control loan-sharking, racketeering, and gambling in Ohio.
4) The infamous Irish coffee got its start at the Foynes airport back in the 1940s, when a chef by the name of Joe Sheridan would spike visitors’ coffee with a generous pour of Irish Whiskey. Travel writer Stanton Delaplane was so smitten with the drink, he took it back to the Buena Vista bar in the U.S., who eventually hired Sheridan to make it for their customers.
5) Hyde Irish Whiskey is named after Ireland’s very first president, Douglas Hyde, who helped define Ireland’s national identity.
6) J.J. Corry is Ireland’s first modern Whiskey Bonder. During the 19th century, most Irish Whiskey was blended by and sold to consumers by the Bonders. However, the practice died out in the 1930s before being revived under the brand of the renowned 19th-century Whiskey Bonder, J.J. Corry from Co. Clare.