Whisky Advocate

What is Irish whiskey, really?

March 12th, 2010

Other than the fact that it is distilled in Ireland and aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels, what is Irish whiskey?

Most of the time when you read in general media how Irish whiskey is defined, they will say that Irish whiskey is different from Scotch whisky in that it’s not smoky like Scotch whisky. And, they’ll say that Irish whiskey is distilled three times, while Scotch whisky is only distilled twice. (Many times they will continue this train of thought with the comment that, because Irish whiskey is distilled three times, it’s smoother than Scotch whisky.)

If I had a dollar for every time I read these generalizations, I could afford to buy a couple bottles of Redbreast 12 year old.

But, as most of you know, these generalizations are not completely accurate. Most Scotch whisky is not smoky, and there are triple distilled whiskies in Scotland (e.g., Auchentoshan).

In Ireland, whiskeys distilled at Cooley are only distilled twice, and they make smoky whiskeys there too (Connemara). In fact, I have heard of the Cooley distillery referred to as “a Scotch distillery that just happens to be located in Ireland.”

Plus, I have enjoyed smooth Scotch whiskies, and tasted some harsh Irish whiskeys over the years. So, the whole “Irish whiskey is smoother than Scotch whisky because it’s distilled three times” statement isn’t exactly accurate either.

Some enthusiasts more “in the know” will point out that what differentiates Irish whiskey from Scotch whisky is that Irish whiskey is made (at least in part) with “pot still” whiskey (i.e. from a mash containing both malted AND unmalted barley), rather than Scotch whisky which uses a 100% malted barley mash bill in its pot stills. Some Irish whiskeys (e.g., Redbreast, Green Spot) are 100% pure pot still whiskeys.

It’s true, if you look at the Irish whiskeys made at the Midleton distillery in County Cork (Jameson, Powers, Paddy, Tullamore Dew, Redbreast, Green Spot, etc.), there is a pot still component in these whiskeys. But, you won’t find “pot still” whiskey in Bushmills or the whiskeys produced at Cooley.

So, what is Irish whiskey, really?

48 Responses to “What is Irish whiskey, really?”

  1. I think this hodge-podge of different styles is a symptom of why Irish whiskey is so overshadowed by Scotch. There is a very tight definition for what is Scotch whisky, and yet there is this incredible variety of available bottes. Irish whiskey is a bit of this and a bit of that, so there is no real uniqueness to it.

  2. JC Skinner says:

    I’m so pleased you posted about this, John.
    I sometimes think the Irish whiskey sector is a little unsure themselves.
    The anomalies abound.
    For example, Midleton make pure potstill whiskey to the traditional mashbill, method and style. Cooley do not, but sometimes naughtily market their whiskey with that term anyway. And now other non-Irish distillers have latched onto the phrase and are bottling all sorts of things under that term.
    To me, it’s like seeing a distiller from Asia bottling a molasses-based blend and calling it single malt Scotch. It’s wrong, and the term should be protected.
    I think a little clarity and some rules akin to the legislation that entered law in Scotland last autumn would be great.
    But as with many things, partition of the island poses a problem. Even Irish law couldn’t force any changes on how Bushmills do things (which is uniformally well, I hasten to add.)
    It would be great to see the opinions of your readers here, because that will help clarify what Irish whiskey drinkers think it is or want it to be. And that’s the best place to start.

  3. kallaskander says:

    Hi John,

    well this is an easy one.

    Irish whiskey is whiskey distilled and matured in Ireland.

    What else should it be?

    With the arrival of Cooley defining Irish whiskey has become kind of a problem.

    On the other hand it was always a two sided coin with Bushmills producing a tripple distilled 100% barley malt and Midleton producing pure pot still from malted and unmalted barley.

    There seems to be no discussion about differences between Irish and Scotch grain whisk(e)y, though.

    Does anybody know if Midleton does “Scotch malt” as well somewhere in that complex? If so than no definition via “style” is possible.

    And tripple disitllation is not as Irish or as definig as we would like to think.

    To make matters worse there is a or are Irish whiskies around consisting of pure pot still malt and grain. Was that Clontarf Black or something?

    So the easiest definition to me seems to be Irish whsikey is whiskey distilled and matured in Ireland.

    And of course it is always spelled with an e :o) .


  4. David says:

    To respond to Oliver, Irish whiskey is legally defined in exactly the same way as Scotch whiskey.

    I’ve written an analysis of this question on my own site.

  5. Matt C. says:

    I’ve always wanted to know what percentage of malted to unmalted or green barley goes into pot-still — any answers?

    • Chef! says:

      If memory serves me correct the bill can contain anywhere from 20-60% unmalted barley. I’m probably wrong on that after this post. So it just has to be made in Ireland and aged three years on oak? Simple enough. Although, for me, unmalted barley, triple distillation (pot, column or both) reads like a true Irish.

  6. JC Skinner says:

    Nice summary of the legal definition (which effectively amounts to distilled in Ireland and aged three years in oak, as John said.)
    But that’s certainly not akin to a definition ‘the same way as Scotch’.
    In Scotland all the terms are carefully clarified and defined and underwritten by law: if you put single malt, or vatted malt or single grain or whatever term on the label, there’s a clear meaning attached to what’s in the bottle which is underwritten by law.
    That’s not the case in Ireland, as my pure potstill example earlier indicates.

    • JC and David, that’s just what I meant by my comment. Of course there is an Irish whiskey law, but it leaves much more room for “interpretation” than the Scotch Whisky Act and Order. The Irish law only mentions “malt” whereas all Scotch has to contain some malted barley (altough the minimum amount is not specified).

      Another issue with Irish whiskey is that the three distilleries are all chameleons that make all kinds of different styles and brands. There really is a lack of indentity in my opinon.

  7. Matt G says:

    Great question. I’ve been struggling with this recently in preparation for a tasting I’m leading. Yeas ago, a tour guide at Bushmills told me that what made Irish whiskey different (and superior, of course) was that Irish whiskey could not use caramel coloring (not true, see Tullamore Dew), Irish whiskey never spends more than 5-7 years in the same barrel (not true as far as I can tell), and the obvious triple distillation /no peated malt that everyone hears. Maybe he was just talking about Bushmills, not Irish whiskey as a whole but this was way back when Bushmills and Midleton were under Irish Distillers. I think kallaskander has the real answer.

  8. Joe M says:

    I do think it’s fair to say that by and large, Irish Whiskey TASTES like Irish Whiskey. Give me Bushmills and Powers, and I can easily group their taste profile as Irish just as I can with JW Black and Dewars as Scotch. I’ve done this blind many times and it’s not difficult. Much harder is picking out individual brands within a given whisk(e)y type.

    Obviously Cooley put a wrinkle in all this, but by and large Irish tastes like Irish. As Parker Beam has said more than once about bourbon vis a vis modern tasting methods “It tastes like bourbon, and if doesn’t taste like bourbon, you got a problem”.

  9. Red_Arremer says:

    There is a unique Irish style, but it’s a pretty modest one. It’s defined more by it’s contrast with cheap bourbons and scotch blends than by the possibilities of pot still whisky or the intriguing attributes of some more expensive bottles. It might not be less smoky or smoother, but it is cleaner than say Jim Beam or J&B and much more straighforwardly fruity. It also shows it’s youth in a different way, more just as spiritiness– it’s not funky. To me and I think most of us, that’s the real Irish style.

    But what about the great Irish Whiskeys? You might ask. Well, Redbreast might be great and it surely exploits the one special element of Irish whiskey production, but it is not emblamatic of Irish whiskey. Neither are the older Bushmills, or Jameson Vintage Reserve, or the Tyrconnel finishes. Of course, it’s not the fault of any of these very good whiskies that they’re not representative of Irish whiskey. It’s just the way the game has played out up until now. And it is how it will continue to play out unless Irish Whiskey producers take more of an interest appealing to the adventurous middle class whisky afficianado– the one who is excited about the endevour to define and develop substantial conceptions of whisky.

    • Luke says:

      Red, re Great Irish Whiskeys, stock of sufficient quality to vat it EXISTS in Midleton, Cooley and Bushmills.

      The only thing holding Irish Whiskey back is demand.

      Imagine, say, Black Bush, remaining as a blend, but bottled at 46% ABV and Non-Chill-Filtered.

      Fantasy? The stock exists, all that’s missing is sufficient customer demand.

      The above applies to all Irish Distilleries.

      You want to see Great releases? Get writing!

      • Red_Arremer says:

        Actually, Irish has been blowing up sales wise for a couple of years. At least Jameson and Bushmills are. A friend told me that the reason single cask middleton has pretty much dropped out of the picture is because Jameson is so big now. But anyways…
        Luke, I’m not criticizing Irish or saying that plenty couldn’t be done. I’m saying that an exciting new concept won’t emerge unless the producers focus on drinkers like us. Forever, scotch distilleries made their money by filling blends. Abstractly speaking that’s the kind of concept that the practically the whole Irish industry runs on right now.
        “Whisky Nerd” is a phrase I’m not crazy about, but it really gets across the way scotch is so big in a certain sense and Irish is not in that sense. What sense? In the sense selling lots of small production runs (independent bottlings) just on the fact that they give more contrast and richness to the field. Irish needs to take an interest in these nerds because the way to make a commercial enterprise out and exploration is to appeal to people who will spend their time, energy, and money studying the fruits of exploration.

  10. David D says:

    Speaking of Irish whiskey, did you know Paddy’s is now available in the U.S. again for the first time in over a decade? I picked up a bottle on vacation in NYC the other week and immediately grilled my Pernod-Ricard rep about California availability. It’s going to be allocated but I’m buying the full amount of 60 bottles for the store. It should be in stock just in time for St. Paddy’s Day and it comes in liter bottles! I think it’s just as good as Redbreast and it should come in cheaper for a larger quantity. That’s exciting!

    • Scott says:

      Get it while you can Dave. It’s only available for two months of the year then you will have to wait till next year.

      • Seth Nadel says:

        I’m not sure if that information is correct. It is somewhat limited, but has been available for months.

        • Ian McCarthy says:

          My Nebraska bar was limited to two bottles, and I heard there were only a few cases in the state. For the money, I think it is no better than Powers, but I would gladly take a Knappogue or Redbreast over Paddys any day.

          I have been told the limited availability has something to do with Pernod-Ricards concern over biting into their own market share. Sell one more bottle of Paddy, sell one less bottle of JJ.

  11. Seth Nadel says:

    I don’t care what it is, actually. Irish is an over looked category. Truthfully, I prefer Irish whiskey to Scotch. Scotch has more selection, but there is just something about Irish whiskey that I like. I’m not a huge fan of the peated Irish whiskey. If I want peat then I will drink Scotch.

    • Tim M says:

      oh Seth, sacrilege….

      • Seth Nadel says:

        LOL. I know. It’s shameful. Scotch as a category has more choices and complexity. Some can argue that Irish can lack depth, but that’s slowly changing. I just never have been a huge Scotch drinker. I lean towards bourbon. Of course, I just had Auchentochan Classic, which I really liked. Not surprising, it’s aged only in bourbon barrels.

  12. Steve says:

    In some ways I think Scotch isn’t quite as clearly defined as we sometimes think. The SWA includes its version of “conduct unbecoming,” that charge the military sometimes uses in court martials when nothing else will stick: Scotch must be made in the “traditional” way. As such, the original Spice Tree wasn’t “Scotch” even though it met all other legal requirements and tasted like Scotch to me. Dominic’s article in the latest Malt Advocate hits on some of these cases again and questions how long some “traditions” have been around.

    JC is completely correct about labeling on Scotch giving a solid idea of what’s in the bottle, but we still must know something about which region and even which distillery birthed a whisky to guess what the contents may taste like. Most folks reading this blog get a mental image when somebody says, “This is an Islay whisky.” I told a friend the same and described a typical Islay flavor profile. He decided to try one and so bought a dram of Bruichladdich at our local watering hole. You can imagine what he thought.about my palate. I remember the first time I tasted a Tobermory and a Ledaig side by side. At the time, I had no idea they came from the same distillery. I’ve also tasted a couple of finishes I doubted were really Scotch.

    As others have noted, I think of Irish whiskey production the same way I think of Japanese whisky and Canadian whisky production. Each is distilled and aged in their respective countries, but none are so bound by legal definitions (unlike Scotch or any American straight whiskey, although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing of course) they can’t do something very different. Sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t, but the research is fun and I’ve found favorites from all three Irish producers, as well as the big two in Japan, and a handful from Canada. Same with the American micros.

    This was a good question. Maybe next we can debate whether George and Jack are bourbons or not!

  13. @yossiyitzak says:

    Why, I thought it was the Leprechauns that make Irish whisky what it is… 😉

    In all seriousness – my experience of Irish whiskey is limited to two expressions of Jameson & Bushmills 10yr. John, perhaps it may be a good idea to repost some of your old Irish whiskey reviews that may help people better understand some of the taste differences?

    For me, I’m not so concerned with process (though I do understand that process makes up what the differences are) as I am with the actual differences from a taste standpoint.

  14. Ernest says:

    Please clarify something for me and I apologize for this question if it’s silly but if “pot still” means a blend of unmalted and malted barley than what does “100% pot stilled mean? Is it that the grain bill consists entirely of this blend as opposed to being a mix of this and a batch of 100% malted barley.

    • booka says:

      I believe that “pot still” is just that – a certain type of still. It’s, well, a pot still, where the whiskey has to be distilled in batches (vs a continuous column still). Malted and unmalted barley is different.

      I hope I’m not misinforming you, I’m sure someone here can correct me if I’m wrong.

      For the original topic, for me Irish whiskey is a nice clean opening, sweet and a little spicy, then fruity finish.

    • John Hansell says:

      Earnest, look at it this way. Blended scotch (e.g. Chivas) is a combination of malt whiskies and grain whisky. Blended Irish whiskey (primarily those from the Midleton distillery, like Jameson), are a combination of pure pot still whisky and grain whisky.

      Think of a Pure Pot Still Irish whiskey (like Redbreast) like being a single malt scotch (e.g. Glenlivet) except the mash bill contains bot malted ABD unmalted barley. I hope this helps.

  15. David says:

    To return to Oliver and JC Skinner’s points… I know what you are driving at but the question was “What is Irish whiskey?”, not “What is a single malt?”. There is no whiskey made in Ireland today that would not qualify as Scotch had it been made in exactly the same way in Scotland. So if there is a “hodge-podge” of Irish styles it’s not because Scotland has a tighter legal definition of whiskey.

    I’ll take Oliver’s point that some malted barley is required in UK legislation whereas any malted cereal will do in Ireland. Also, if memory serves, UK legislation mentions oak wood where Irish legislation mentions only wood. In practice, however, all Irish whiskey contains malted barley (even the grain whiskey) and all of it is matured in oak. So in practice these differences are not relevant.

    So I’ll say it again: what is “whiskey” is defined in exactly the same way in Ireland and the UK. And it’s now defined the same way at EU level too.

    I admire the tight legal definitions of styles of whiskey in Scotland and would very much like to see that replicated in Ireland. The lack of it might give the appearance of a “hodge-podge” of styles but some consistent labelling would sort that out.

  16. While it is easy to separate American Whiskey from European Whiskey because of our use of corn and new charred barrels, it is hard to tell one European Whiskey from another along national lines. The only thing that truly distinguishes all scotch from all Irish is their respective nation of origin.

  17. Tim M says:

    I love Irish. After becoming a fan of scotch (blended…) around age 14 (from my dad’s bar, the only think I liked, for some reason stupidly thinkiing one had to drink them straight), Irish was my 2nd “favorite” from early college days (John jameson, drank a bunch on a roadtrip to see the Dead in Baltimore in ’82..). Even though I had drunk a lot more bourbon than Irish by that point, it took a decade for good bourbon to eclipse Irish on my playlist (Eagle Rare – before single barrel became popular).

    So John, perhaps you can shed light on a mystery which had plagued my poor (or is that ‘pour’) whisky loving head. I’ve tried and enjoyed many an Irish (only Feckin’ do I consider unworthy to drink). I find it easy to sip and generally very tastey. But there is one – to be honest the only “single malt” Irish I have had although there are probably (many) others – that I just cant drink. Even though I love the taste. Connemara just gives me the worst headaches, as if it cranks the sugar and saps the H2O from my blood with no regard for countermeasures (repeated hydration).


  18. The term “scotch” has become so prominent that it seems anything that doesn’t fit the bill is devalued in people’s minds, regardless of quality. Irish whisky is definitely in this category, and as such I find Irish whiskies to provide in general a better value than Scottish ones.

  19. Whiskeyminis says:

    You mean Red Breast 15 YO

  20. DavindeK says:

    John, A very timely and topical question.

    To me, the quality of Irish whiskey is really on the rise. I recently sat down with a couple of dozen of them and man, some of them were really great. But the myths do still persist.

    We have to remember that Irish whiskey was not invented in the 1970’s, and to base our understanding of Irish whiskey on whiskeys produced since then, and on modern production methods is to miss 90% of what Irish whiskey-writ large-can be.

    Sales are on the rise, but in terms of variety, Irish whiskey is in a slump now, down to just a few distilleries from the hundreds that used to prosper on the Emerald Isle. But given the quality coming out of Ireland now, it seems inevitable that more distilleries will come on line and more whiskies will be made there. These new distilleries and whiskies will have a very broad tradition to draw on, using methods and processes we so often dismiss out of hand as not Irish, simply because we haven’t seen them in our own relatively brief whisky lives. Cooley did not re-define Irish methods, they simply revived disused ones – disused only because in hard times only a single distiller remained in Ireland and one distiller can’t do everything while fighting to survive.

    Using peat as a fuel was the norm in Ireland for centuries. Peated Irish whiskeys are not an anomaly unless we look back for only a few years. Triple distillation did not become the norm until the only surviving distiller happened to specialize in it. Similarly, in more prosperous times, labels on the Irish potation were just as likely to call it whisky as whiskey.

    As far as using malted and unmalted barley in the mash bill, it seems very unlikely this was not also done at one time in Scotland as well, and it most certainly was in other countries. Green malt, or barley that has been malted but not dried, was almost certainly used at one time in both Scotland and Ireland as well.

    If we want to take a long perspective, I think we have to agree with kallaskander and Chuck and say that Irish whiskey is whiskey that was made in Ireland. And please, no regulations; let the distillers, not the bureaucrats decide how to make it and let the market decide which ones to drink.


    • John Hansell says:

      Nicely said, DavindeK. And, of course, I agree with you (and Kallaskander and Chuck) completely. And good point about Cooley. They didn’t redefine Irish whiskey. They revived disused ones.

    • JC Skinner says:

      The problem with ‘let the distillers decide’ is that they don’t necessarily agree.
      I gave the pure potstill example earlier.
      I don’t see a problem with emulating the Scotch system of having some clearly defined terms on the bottle so that consumers can easily comprehend what they’re drinking.

      • Bobo says:

        Hi JC,

        Do you have to know how a product is made? I think it is enough to judge it by its characteristics (taste)….

    • jbart says:

      As someone fairly new to scotch compared to many drinkers here, I had little idea what I was drinking until I actually did a lot of research. So I didn’t exactly find Scotch easy to understand when I started out. In some ways, it still seems complicated to the uninitiated. That’s why I am not always a big fan of strict rules.It works with scotch, but as the Spice tree brouhaha shows, these rules can sometimes seem to discourage innovation.

      As for Irish whiskey, I don’t see any problem with there being no defined style as long as the quality continues to increase and more variety becomes available. I love variety.

      • Davindek says:

        Yes, Spice Tree, isn’t that bizarre? And yet as much as 7 or 8 litres of the liquid that flows out of every barrel of whisky finished in a wine cask is actually grape-derived spirit and flavour and no one bats an eye. Whatever happened to just three ingredients? You can add 7 or 8 litres of wine, no problem ,but if you add a teaspoon of Kininvie to a barrel of Glenfiddich it’s no longer a single malt?

        • chef! says:

          I guess I’m torn on this issue and have a double standard. When it comes to whisk(e)y what matters to me is that there’s contiguity in the base distillate and distillation processes (pot, column, combo, etc) and not so much thereafter unless drastic. Yet what defines the very differences between some other spirits is the very last step of finishing from maceration to even adding small amounts of sugar.

          If a whisky is ACE’d in a wine barrel or uses a special stave does it go outside the boundaries? For me, no it does not because the base distilled material is 100% grain derived. That’s just me in terms of whisk(e)y. I’m all for a simple definition of what a country and its distillers decide. Less to memorize in regard giving a broad definition to a region’s style, but then again a lot more to memorize for each specific distillery. I’m all for innovation so long as what ends up in my glass is tasty and worth the price.

  21. Davindek says:

    Hi JC,
    Well, if you want them all to be sort of the same, cool, make a rule. But if you want new flavour experiences and enjoy whisky for it’s range of flavours , rather than being easy to predict, comprehend or explain, I say let anarchy reign. We’ve seen so much rule-led dumbing-down of some Scotches lately. If we let the distillers do as they will, the good ones will prosper on their reputation and the others will fade away. Go ahead, define Pure Pot, Single Malt, Blended, and so on, but do it in a way that encourages experimentation and variety.

  22. Whiskey-making in America is about 250 years old. In Japan it’s about 140 years old. Many of the other countries that make whiskey have long distilling traditions but their whiskey-making origins are modern. Only the Irish and Scots have traditions that go back many centuries. Clarity of terminology is good, but we don’t want rules that tend to fix the fly in amber. For example, in the EU (but not the USA) the term ‘whiskey’ cannot be applied to any beverage that has spent less than three years in wood, even though common (i.e. un-aged) whiskey has a long and venerable history.

    • JC Skinner says:

      @Davin: I agree. You don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater by defining away all possible experimentation. But at the same time, is it not fooling the consumer to label a whiskey ‘pure potstill’ when it isn’t?
      @Chuck: Utterly agree. In Ireland the term for unaged (and often untaxed!) whiskey historically has been poitin (or poteen, or potcheen for the anglophones).
      They only legalised poitin in the last few years (Bunratty do a weak version) but I’d like to see the Irish distillers releasing their unaged spirit as branded poitin. I was disappointed when Kilbeggan released theirs as ‘spirit’ – a missed opportunity there, I think.

      • kallaskander says:

        Hi there,

        not so much a missed opportunty but common sense. Poitin is an undeclared illicit distilled whiskey same as moonshine.

        There is no way to bottle it and bring it ot the shelves in stores. As soon as it is taxed it is no longer poitin.

        When the state took care of taxing potin the taxed spirit was called “parliament whiskey” in Ireland to make a difference from the real stuff.

        You know, freedom an whiskey gang tagither.

        As for Cooley and the question of defining or re-defining whiskey…

        If you ask John Tealing he will probably tell you the story how IDL and her French mother tried to prevent him from starting Cooley.
        With their monopole on everything in connection with Irish whiskey from distillers equipment to the barley market John was not able to obtain even the smallest item you need to start a distillery.

        So he looked to Scotland. So much that he hired a Scottish master distiller. Soon after he had established Cooley IDL appeared at his doorstep with wallet in the hands and wanted to buy him out. Irish pride and the Irish anti trust legislation prevented that.

        In the aftermath of all that Cooley took to calling ther malts made in the Scottish style “pure pot still whiskey” to emphasize that they were made in pot stills – and probavly to create confusion I am afraid.

        And they opened the bottle of questions concerning the definition of Irish whiskey.

  23. JC Skinner says:

    While poitin was historically the term used for illicit whiskey, it was also the term used for unaged whiskey.
    It’s not the case that poitin cannot be licit. It’s been legal for 13 years now, and both Bunratty and Knockeen Hills have licit versions on the market currently.
    I can see why Midleton or Bushmills mightn’t want to sell their unaged spirit (and they don’t.) But with Kilbeggan coming back after so long, there was a huge interest in what the spirit would be like and they did indeed release some.
    I just think calling it Kilbeggan poitin would have been a classy touch is all. Interestingly, poitin DOES have a legally protected status in European law, whereas terms like ‘Irish pure potstill’ do not.
    I’m familiar with the Cooley history you cite, but it does no harm to spread that information a little wider. A lot of people don’t realise how difficult it was for Cooley at certain stages.

  24. lawschooldrunk says:

    What is Irish Whiskey? Irish Whiskey is CHEAPER and thank heavens, is still underrated. Keep your hands off the prices, industry!

  25. Hi John,

    To be blunt I think Irish whiskey is a sad shell of its former self. Yes there are still some great whiskies coming from that Island, but with only 3, some might say 4 distilleries, Ireland is a land that has lost touch with its whiskey distilling roots! Regardless of the reasons for its contraction in the 20th century–Irish Civil War, the Great Depression, Prohibition and others–the Irish whiskey industry has become separated from place, tradition and history. Bushmills is the only Irish whisky which has managed to keep its identity, and to me it is the only one which still has an authentic feel. The iconic brands distilled at Middleton are just that, brands, brands produced by one distillery under one roof. Yes there are different styles, the names of long lost distilleries persist, and some of the traditional techniques have been preserved but much more has been lost.

    Whereas in Ireland there are only 3 active full time distilleries, there are over 100 in Scotland. To me this is the most striking fact. Scotland has done a much better job of protecting its tradition and heritage with respect to distilling (whether by design or not). There is a sense of mystique and place about the Scottish distilleries and their whiskies that those of Ireland have mostly lost.

    It’s great to see what’s being done at Cooley, and I wish them the best of luck with Kilbeggan too. Hopefully we will see a return to Ireland’s distilling roots; the creation of new distilleries and the revival of some old ones. Short of that all we have to look forward to is another brand from the same “not so old” distillery!


    Andrew Ferguson
    Calgary, Canada

  26. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    another clue what Irish whiskey might be.

    “Once the mash tuns are in place, the distillery plans, according to manager Brian Quinn, to try out the old Locke’s mashbill of 60% malted barley, 35% unmalted barley and 5% oats.”

    Back to the roots!


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