Irish whiskey is made in Ireland. The Irish spell the spirit ‘whiskey’, while the Scottish drop the ‘e’. Irish whiskey is typically a triple-distilled spirit (in contrast, Scotch whisky is distilled only twice) using unpeated malt and is aged in wooden casks for minimum of three years. The absence of peat (or the light peating), as well as the triple distillation common to the production of Irish whiskey, accounts for the smoother texture, and a more juicy, spicy, fruity profile of the final spirit.
Today a diverse range of whiskey styles and types is available: blended whiskey, grain and single malt that may be triple-distilled or double-distilled and peated to various degrees.
Pure pot still whiskey is a term unique to Ireland and denotes an Irish whiskey made from a combination of malted and unmalted barley, distilled in a pot still. Modern Irish law allows any whiskey distilled in a pot still to be labelled as ‘pot still whiskey’ regardless of the proportion of unmalted barley in the grain mix, however the majority of ‘pot still whiskeys’ are crafted according to the traditional method.
The history of the first Irish distilleries date backs as far as the mid-12th century. The Old Bushmills Distillery claims the title of the oldest licensed distillery in the world, having received a licence in 1608 from James I. The once robust local whiskey industry has suffered from the adverse economic conditions of the last couple of centuries that resulted in numerous mergers and closures.
Today there are only three Irish whiskey distilling companies in operation; Midleton
(the sole Irish-owned company). Each of these three distilleries produces an array of brands and styles.