Unpeated, triple distilled and blended. This is perhaps a view some may have of the defining character of Irish whiskeys. However, this is not necessarily the case, take Connemara whiskey for example which is a peated, double distilled single malt. In fact, Ireland produces a wide array of whiskey styles. So, with that in mind here is a quick rundown on the different styles of Irish whiskey.
Blended whiskey can be made from blending malt whiskey and grain whiskey much like Scotch but also by blending Single Pot Still with either of these, or a combination of all three. Clonakilty Port Cask is a superb example of what can be achieved with a blend. Here it's an 8 year old grain and 10 year old malt finished in port cask.
Single Malt Whiskey
Single Malt is made solely from malted barley in a pot still. Single means the whiskey is the product of a single distillery. This style is usually associated with Scotland, however, there are some truly excellent Single Malts produced in Ireland such as The Dubliner 10 year old. This classically styled single malt shows you just how great the style can be.
Grain whiskey is any whiskey made from grains other than malted barley, usually corn or wheat or a combination of both. Grain whiskey is distilled in Continuous Stills and the resulting whiskey is a sweeter, lighter and brighter, easy drinking spirit. In Ireland, most grain whisky goes into blends but there are some great examples of Single Grain whiskeys like Glendalough Double Barrel
Pot Still Whiskey
Pot still whiskey is a style unique to Ireland. This is distilled in a pot still just as with a single malt but here a combination of malted and unmalted barley is used. This gives the resulting spirit a distinctive creamy texture and fruity, spicy flavour. This is a style that almost died out being used primarily in blends, perhaps most notably in Jameson. However, the last few decades have seen a number of new expressions being released. Redbreast 12 year old has stood the test of time and should have a place in everyone's drinks cabinet.
This is just the start when it comes to how your whiskey will taste. The ‘cuts’ the distiller makes in the pot still, the different types of cask the spirit is matured in, the length of time it spends aging and the bottling strength will all effect the taste. However, hopefully this gives you an idea of what to expect when picking your next whiskey.
The great news is you will find the whiskeys I’ve mentioned, along with many others, on offer in our Irish Whiskey Sale.
Please note prices are correct at time of publishing, these offers will end on 3rd of January, please check our website or stores for the most up to date pricing.