What Makes Irish Whiskey Different from Others

What Makes Irish Whiskey Different from Others

For most, Irish whiskey is what true legends are made of. This exceptional spirit holds the coveted top spot in the eyes of whiskey drinkers across the globe. The battle is lost even before it begins for anyone who wants to debate this elite and almost unchallenged position.

Before we get into the semantics of what makes Irish whiskey different from others, the first point of consideration is the fact that the very word whiskey comes from the Irish phrase “uisce beatha", which means the water of life. Most people believe that whiskey originated in Ireland, but this is debatable in the absence of documented records. Having said that, historically speaking, some of the oldest originated whiskey did come from Ireland, and there is no questioning that. The best Irish whiskey comes with all trademark characteristics, it's smooth and light with an oaky richness, and it is this classy flavour that sets it apart from others.

Casked and aged for a minimum of three years, the best Irish whiskey is enjoyed straight, neat, on the rocks. For those who wonder what is Irish whiskey, a quick crash course would include understanding that it is triple distilled in most cases with unmalted barley. Available both as blended and in single malt variations, the one distinct feature that sets Irish whiskey apart is its inherent smoothness. Most people prefer it over anything else purely because of this one fact.

The magic of creating the best Irish whiskeys lies in the process. For example, in most cases, the malt that is used is dried in closed kilns by exposing it to only hot air and no smoke at all. This being one bit of trivia for those wondering what is Irish whiskey, there are many small nitty-gritty that together contributes to making Irish whiskey the most sought after amongst connoisseurs. After fermentation, triple distillation happens in copper pot stills. The aging process, barrels used, temperature control, etc., lends the whiskey its eventual taste and signature flavour.

The oakiness and characteristic caramel are inherent to most types, but Irish whiskey does come in a few different types. From blended, to single malts, to single pot still, to grain Irish, to single grain Irish, to finally, potcheen, there is something in there for almost every kind of appetite and palate. While all others are inherently deemed Irish, the potcheen is somewhat of a fence sitter as it does not typically meet the age requirement to be officially labelled an Irish whiskey.

As unique as it is, it is challenging to find an Irish whiskey that does not meet expectations. Because it's versatile, it can find its way into cocktails, mixes or some sort but also is perfectly drinkable in isolation. The best Irish whiskey has a considerable percentage of alcohol, minimum being 40% and what sets it apart is the ultimate smokiness coupled with the smooth texture. This classic yet potent combination that is a result of combining barley with wheat or rye lends Irish whiskey a punch that is hard to ignore.

While Irish whiskey was extremely popular in the 19th century, with distilleries galore, by the mid 20th century, there were only a few that sustained. Jameson, being the oldest, most loved and mighty popular, the best Irish whiskey comes from the brand to date. But of course, it’s not the only one. One key qualifier for any whiskey to be called Irish whiskey is that it has to be produced in Ireland, but over time, exploration and experimentation have meant that a variety of options are now available, and there are many new players in the field.

Whether it’s a beginner trying to explore Irish whiskey or a seasoned, experienced drinker, Irish whiskey is a winner all the way.