Irish whiskey is generally a bit different from Scotch.
Though based on barley malt, the Irish tend to dry the barley malt in ovens or kilns,
while the Scotch producers usually do this over a peat fire. This latter process
contributes an inherent smokiness to Scotch.
Most Scotch is double-distilled. The Irish tend to do three distillations for their
whiskey. Midleton makes a whiskey which has been distilled five times!
Though there is a plethora of Irish whiskey brands, there are but three distillers (legal
ones, anyway) left in Ireland!
POWER & SONS
Powers Irish Whiskey is the brand they drink in Ireland. Now, if you
think an Irishman (or woman) might know a thing or two about Irish whiskey, then you'll
probably want to have a taste of this. Though it's a blend, there's a considerable
percentage of pot-stilled whiskey in a bottle of Power's.
This amazingly expensive Irish whiskey has a legion of fans. I never
imagined people, especially those frugal Irish, would pony up a hundred-and-something
dollars for a bottle of whiskey. On the other hand, I could not have imagined people
rushing to pay a hundred bucks for a Napa Valley Cabernet, so what do I know?
In any case, this is a much sought-after, rare bottle (apparently).
This label used to be one of the finest from Ireland. The distillery
closed in 1955 and the label was owned by Irish Distillers and the whiskey is made at
The whiskey is more mild and less distinctive than it used to be.
I am unsure how the Irish manage to find the name "Tyrconnell" as
meaning "the land of O'Donnell." The O'Donnells were one powerful clan,
Andrew Watt established a distillery somewhere in the vicinity of these O'Donnells and
named his whiskey "The Tyrconnell," a pot-stilled, single malt.
You might notice the label depicts a race horse...the Watts entered a nag in The Queen
Victoria Plate race in 1876. The horse was given long odds to win, being tabbed a
100-1 long shot. Well, you can imagine--the horse, named "Tyrconnell," won
Kilbeggan translates from Gaelic to something like "little church."
It was at this little church that monks began distilling the locally-raised barley
and turning it into "Uisce Beatha" (water of life).
Another of Kilbeggan's claims to fame is that it was the first licensed whiskey distillery
in the world, John Locke obtaining government permission back in 1757.
The whiskey of Kilbeggan is regarded by many as appropriate for Irish Coffee. (That's
damning with faint praise, isn't it?) It has a mild maltiness to the nose and a
light kick on the finish, so perhaps fortifying one's coffee with this is not a bad idea.
Oh...this is, for some reason, a big seller in Germany!
This whiskey is given a treatment some liken more to that commonly employed
in Scotland: The malted barley is dried over peat fires, giving this a somewhat
smoky element. However, it doesn't have the salty, almost iodine-like notes of some
of its Scotch counterparts. This is worth a taste, for it's a very fine whiskey.
A 12 year old bottling recently arrived...expensive, but good.
Jameson's is the world's best selling Irish whiskey. Keep in mind that
McDonald's hamburgers are the most popular in the world. I mention this just for
While Jameson's basic Irish whiskey bottling is pretty normal stuff, they do offer a
product which is amongst the elite and highly-regarded by fussy Irish whiskey drinkers: Jameson
The year, 1780, refers to when Scotsman John Jameson is said to have arrived in Ireland.
Whatever, it's a whiskey which spends about a dozen years or so in old Sherry
casks. The resulting product is exceptional, smooth and with a sweet bouquet which
lingers in the glass seemingly forever!
Bushmills is a very popular Irish whiskey. Those from the Emerald Isle
know the basic bottling as "White Bush." (Nothing to do with America's
current president or his father.)
They make a range of bottlings, the one called "Black Bush"
being predominantly a single-malt with a lacing of grain whiskey. Aged for more than
a decade in used Sherry barrels, this has a marvelously sweet fragrance and a long
Bushmills recently introduced a new premium bottling to the portfolio: Bushmills
16 year old. They mature a single malt whiskey in both Sherry and Bourbon
barrels before blending them and allowing them to "marry" in used Port
"pipes" (barrels used in Portugal's Douro for the maturation of Port wine).
- KNAPPOGUE CASTLE
this label comes from an American fellow who leases a castle in Ireland called
He has purchased single malt Irish whiskey in barrel and ages it until he
feels the spirit is just right. Experts wax poetic when writing about
a 30+ year old single "vintage" whiskey under this label.
We have a 1993 "vintage." It's distilled for Mark Andrews by
Cooley's (who make Tyrconnell and others). You'll notice the color is lighter
than many...he doesn't add anything to make it darker. The flavors are
delicate and there's a note of honey to this.
- This is a
nice, toffee-ish, mild Irish whiskey. The name comes from a castle not
too far from Dublin and the spirit has been matured in some sort of
locally-produced barrel as well as in used Bourbon casks. Nice.
We also have Irish Bailey's Irish Cream and Brady's Irish Cream along with several beers from Ireland.