Here are five (5) key things to know about Irish Whiskey:
Most Irish whiskeys undergo triple distillation, a process believed to result in a smoother and more refined spirit. This is in contrast to Scotch whisky, which is typically distilled twice.
Pot Still Distillation:
Irish whiskey is typically triple-distilled using a pot still, which means heat is applied directly to the pot. Irish whiskey doesn't toast its barley, which makes it smoother than Scotch whiskey. Irish whiskey can be distilled to no more than 160 proof and must enter the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof. When bottled, the spirit must be at least 80 proof.
No Peat Influence:
Unlike some Scotch whiskies, particularly those from Islay, Irish whiskey is generally not produced with peat. This absence of peat in the malting process results in a lack of smoky or earthy flavors, allowing the natural sweetness of the grains to shine through.
Duration of Aging:
Irish whiskey must be aged for at least three years in wooden casks. However, many premium and higher-end expressions are aged much longer, contributing to a more complex and refined flavor profile. Commonly, Irish whiskey is aged in used American bourbon barrels, which impart vanilla and caramel notes. Additionally, some whiskeys may be aged in sherry or other wine casks, adding unique flavors to the spirit.
Geographical Indication (GI):
Irish whiskey is protected by a Geographical Indication, meaning it must be produced on the island of Ireland to be called Irish whiskey. This adds a level of authenticity and quality control to the production process. Ireland has a long history of whiskey production, with evidence of distillation dating back to the 15th century. The country has been a significant player in the global whiskey market for centuries.