Everything You Need to Know About Irish Whiskey
Whiskey is, like Guinness, one of the national drinks of Ireland. The word is spelled whiskey in Ireland and whisky in Scotland, but both words come from the original Gaelic for the water of life (uisce beatha).
What Makes Irish Whiskey Distinctly Different
Irish whiskey differs from Scottish whisky in the way that it’s made. The Irish make their whiskey during the pot still phase out of malted and unmalted barley. The Scots make theirs only from malted barley. Scottish whisky has a much heavier flavour than Irish, especially due to the use of peat in some single malts. Irish whiskey tends to be smoother than Scottish whisky because of the lack of peat, but there are exceptions. Connemara, named after a region in Ireland which could easily stand in for the Scottish Highlands, is a double-distilled peat whiskey.
The Makings of Irish Whiskey
The first distillery opened in Ireland in 1608, Old Bushmills, although Kilbeggan Distillery currently lays claim to the title of the oldest in Ireland. Of course, whiskey-making was going on prior to this time, but it is difficult to pinpoint the history due to lack of government regulation. The making of whiskey quickly spread to Scotland and further abroad. Legend has it that the distillation of whiskey was brought to Ireland by St. Patrick himself. If this were true, it would make the distillation of whiskey a Roman invention, since Patrick was not Irish but a Roman Briton named Patricius who was brought to the island as a slave
Irish Whiskey Trends Today
Surprisingly, Ireland’s whiskey fell out of favour after being one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the world. Today, only sixteen distilleries remain in operation, which is very few when contrasted with, for example, Islay in Scotland, a small Gaelic-speaking island which has 11 distilleries all by itself. However, Irish whiskey is experiencing a boom in popularity, and there are 14 more distilleries in the planning stages. This means more variety, but as whiskey must be aged before it can be put on the market for sale, there will be some waiting involved.
Drink Me, I’m Irish Whiskey
There is currently a wide variety of Irish whiskey available to sample from all regions of the island. Some are ancient mainstays, like Bushmills, or whimsical offerings like the tongue-in-cheek Writer’s Tears. The type of cask the whiskey is aged in can affect the flavour, and many of them are aged in sherry or rum casks, adding a certain sweetness to the drink. There is such a wide variety of whiskies on offer from Ireland, in fact, that it’s a good idea to have some kind of direction when seeking out your favourite tipple. Some of the whiskies are so place-specific they can have a relationship with the very bar where you’re drinking in Dublin or out in the countryside.
Your Invitation to Experience an Irish Whiskey Hooley in Victoria, BC.
This Sunday, March 11th, Yates Street Taphouse & Grill, located in downtown Victoria, along with our co-host, Greater Victoria Festival Society, will be providing just such an excursion into the world of Irish whiskey with our Irish Whiskey Hooley.
The word Hooley means ‘a party’ and that’s what we’ll be throwing this Sunday! Our Irish Whiskey Hooley will celebrate the music and drink of the old country while educating folks on the different types of whiskey available from Ireland. 40 of our Irish whiskies will be on display for tasting purposes, and our Whiskey Passport will give you the pride and joy of having traveled, at least by taste, to several of the Irish counties.
How to Get on Our Irish Whiskey Hooley Guest List
If you’ve always longed for a night on the Emerald Isle, with a singsong and a good old-fashioned Irish country pub lock-in, join us for our Irish Whiskey Hooley–this Sunday–at Yates Street Taphouse. Click here for event details and to get your tickets to our Hooley.
You may get a chance to sing along to old favourites like The Star of the County Down or Catch Me if You Can. Come Sunday, March 11th, at the Yates Street Taphouse, everyone’s Irish for one day. After sampling our extensive selection of whiskey, your Irish eyes will be smiling all day long.