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Considering the geographic proximity between Ireland and Scotland, a comparison of the whiskies these countries produce is often a salient conversation point. Complex yet easy to drink, Irish whiskey must be produced and aged in either Ireland or Northern Ireland. It is typically made from a mélange of malted and un-malted barley and dried in a kiln, a mixed mashbill that lends the whiskey a pot still character. It finds its way into single pot still whiskies such as Midleton, as well as in blends like Powers.
While Irish whiskey is usually triple distilled—the reason often attributed to its smooth texture—and then aged for a minimum of three years in old or new oak barrels, this is not always the case. Unlike Bushmills and Jameson, for example, the Cooley distillery only distills its whiskey twice.
In the 20th century, Irish whiskey was the most popular spirit in Great Britain. But after a number of economic and cultural setbacks, including revolution and the severing of the Irish Republic from the British crown, the market stagnated. There are now just a few whiskey distilleries in Ireland, but all of them have helped revive the once-robust category to appeal beyond St. Patrick’s Day tipples.
Irish whiskey’s origins likely stem from 1608, when Bushmills started distilling whiskey for the British Crown
The seminal Irish whiskey cocktail, the Irish Coffee, was created in 1952 when the owner of the Buena Vista in San Francisco challenged travel writer Stanton Delaplane to recreate the drink served at Ireland’s Shannon Airport
When the Phylloxera plague demolished European vineyards in the 1870s, Irish whiskey quickly stood in as a replacement for brandy