The word “whiskey” is an Anglicisation of the first word in the Gaelic phrase, uisce betha, meaning “water of life” (modern Irish: uisce beatha, Scottish: uisge beatha). The oldest known written record of whiskey comes from Ireland in 1405 in the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise. Irish whiskey was once the most popular spirit in the world, though a long period of decline started in the late 19th century.
Today the Irish Whiskey industry is flourishing again with exports growing by over 15% per annum after having increased by 300% in the last 10 years. In recent years, existing distilleries have been expanded and a number of new distilleries constructed but despite record demand, Irish whiskey has very little supply. There are only 16 working distilleries on the island of Ireland.
Peat is rarely used in the malting process, so that Irish whiskey has a smoother finish as opposed to the smoky, earthy overtones common to some Scotches. There are notable exceptions to these rules in both countries; an example is Connemara peated Irish malt (double distilled) whiskey from the Cooley Distillery.
Irish whiskey comes in several forms, with the name of the style depending on the type of grain used and the distillation process. Traditionally, Irish whiskey was produced in pot stills. Irish whiskeys made in a pot still fall into two categories: Single Mail and Single Pot Still Whiskey.
The Irish Whiskey Association has launched a massive new tourism initiative to promote Irish whiskey. If the full potential of the industry is realized, Irish whiskey tourism should triple from 653,277 visitors per year to upwards of 1.9 million visitors, spending an estimated €1.3 billion during their stay in Ireland.
Some Famous Irish Whiskeys and
Situated in Co. Antrim. Bushmills is a triple distilled
whiskey, which is made using a light, delicate and
unpeated malt, with over 27 variations of whiskey
ranging from €29 – €1,250.
This distillery has its history trailing back to 1782 and
produce a mellow, honied and fruity distillate, in addition, they started to produce a peated spirit, almost unheard of in more recent Irish distillery history. Five assorted brands are distilled here ranging from €28 – €601.
It is one of the few independent bottlings of Irish
whiskey. This is a lovely, warming single malt whiskey
that has a nice creamy texture. It’s made with 100
percent malted barley. Knappogue Castle is known for
bottling one of the oldest and rarest known Irish
whiskies, Knappogue Castle 1951, a pot still whiskey. A
bottle would cost around €1,000.
There is a huge shortage of aged whiskey, and many people are looking to collect it. In order to meet global demand, distillers have not been holding back stocks to age for later, so there is a lack of older, rare whiskies being released onto the market. And older releases are constantly decreasing, because collectors are always drinking them. There is more and more global demand for the oldest and rarest vintages, all of which will
continue to increase in value.
I invest in casks that we can then bottle and sell on at a later date. Casks are great because you buy it and it automatically increases in value. As soon as I’ve sold out of them, you can’t get it anymore. Two thirds of the flavour of single cask whisky comes from the cask itself so each one is different. You might be able to find another 28 year old Blair Athol Single Cask, but it won’t taste like mine. That’s the beauty of it and it makes great business sense.
“The line between Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky has become blurred,” says Hansell, since Irish whiskey companies like Bushmills and Jameson have expanded their range to include deluxe whiskies from aged blends to pure pot stills and their own brand of single malts. “The top Irish whiskeys are just as good as manysingle-malt scotches. It’s too bad more people aren’t aware of how complex some of these whiskeys have become.”