What makes Irish whiskey different from other whiskeys? The obvious answer is the addition of the letter ‘E’”, but there is more to it than that. Ireland’s whiskeys are as varied as it’s landscape.
Here are three styles:
The first, typified by Tullamore Dew, is one the Irish Whiskey enthusiast might class as a beginners whiskey. You’ll note a hint of sweetness, which some might say has it bordering on liquor status. That sweetness, though, makes it ideal for sipping in front of a log fire on a chilly evening.
Connemara Peated, a single malt whiskey, represents another variety of Irish whiskeys. It’s distinctly different from Tullamore Dew, with its strong scents of warm Irish turf and its rich golden colour that resembles the rolling hillsides from which it hails.
And finally there’s Redbreast, the only remaining 12-year-old Pot Still whiskey still in production in Ireland. Pot Stilling, of course, is the most traditional method of whiskey making. Don’t let Redbreast’s pale almost colourless appearance fool you; it’s the crown jewel of Irish Whiskey, best enjoyed neat, or — if you must — with a single cube of ice.
A Pure Pot Stilled Whiskey such as the 12-year-old Redbreast is very similar to the single malt Connemara whiskey in that neither is blended with grain. What makes a pot-stilled whiskey so different is that both malted and unmalted mash are used, which gives the whiskey a distinctive well-rounded, robust taste. In crafting a single malt whiskey, on the other hand, only unmalted mash is used. Mash is the mixture of grain and water from which the whiskey is distilled.
Ian Scott is the Head Sommelier of the five-star Dromoland Castle Hotel and Country Club in County Clare Ireland. He is a Certified Sommelier (Wine, Spirits and Education Trust of England) and completed a Masterclass in Irish Whiskey tasting with Jameson Distillers, Ireland.