Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up and everyone is looking for an excuse to let our inner Leprechauns out to play by knocking back some Irish whiskey! What makes this particular kind of whiskey special? As the luck of the Irish would have it, I’ve got a quick overview.
Whiskey is made around the world, and each region – America, Canada, Scotland, Japan and Ireland – has its own set of regulations. Irish whiskey is made within its national boundaries, from grain, aged a minimum of three years in barrels, and typically has a light, fruity quality. Potcheen is the equivalent of American moonshine, meaning it is doesn’t follow official laws of production or aging.
Smooth and versatile, Irish whiskey’s popularity and sales have quadrupled in the United States, over the last decade. In fact, it is one of the fastest growing spirits categories, worldwide. And, in congruence with global trends, new micro distilleries are popping up across the emerald landscape. Meanwhile, most well known brands have been bought by larger companies, helping them reach enthusiasts around the globe. Let’s explore a few:
Last year, the adventurous Irishman Tim Herlihy, Brand Ambassador for Tullmore D.E.W., spent a month traveling throughout our fifty states seeking the most interesting St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and recording his findings. Along the way, he visited San Francisco’s Buena Vista famed for its Irish Coffee, saw the world’s largest shamrock in Georgia, and attended the world’s shortest one-man St. Patrick’s Day parade in Arkansas. His trip ended at the famed Dead Rabbit Irish Pub in New York City. See this interesting interview he did upon completing his trip and get his Irish Coffee recipe:
Tullamore D.E.W. was the first to boast a triple blend of grain, malt and pot still whiskies, which impart sweetness, citrus, and spicy notes, respectively. Its name comes from Daniel E. Williams, the distillery worker who worked up to head honcho, back in the 1800s. While journeying, Herlihy is also introducing the U.S. to Tullamore D.E.W. Trilogy, their new 15-year old version, which is thrice distilled, and aged in used bourbon, oloroso sherry and rum casks. With the power of William Grant & Sons behind the small brand, it is now sold in 80 countries, winning 35 gold medals in the last decade.
Jameson is perhaps the most widely known brand, and has seen huge growth here. Consistent, versatile and affordable, try it in place of vodka in a Moscow Mule (with lime and ginger beer) for your St. Pat’s celebration.
Teeling Single Grain is made from malted barley. The Teeling family’s distilling dates back to the 1700’s, and the youngest generation has opened the first new distillery built in Ireland in 125 years. Teeling’s tasting notes include fig, melon, citrus, vanilla, spice and cloves.
Bushmills is marked by clean, fruity notes, this pot-stilled whiskey has followed the same recipe for four centuries, and is one of the top sellers in the U.S.
Connemara is an enigma in the Irish category being the only peated version, giving it a rich smokiness. It’s high proof so enjoy it with a little dilution, or as the base of a cocktail.