Whiskey, as it is spelled in Ireland or whiskey in Scotland, is the most popular of all the grain spirits, first thought to be distilled by monks in Ireland as early as the 12th century. But it was in 1608 when Bushmills distillery first received its grant. Even up until Victorian times, Irish whiskey was more popular than Scotch.
The difference between Irish whiskey and Scotch whiskeys
- ·The big difference between Scotch and Irish whiskey is the distilling phase which is made twice with Scotch and three times with Irish, giving Irish whiskey a particular lightness
- Scotch whiskey first allows the barley to sprout, and then it is dried. Irish whiskey uses raw and malted barley while Scotch is entirely malted barley. (This is partly because there was an extra tax on malt in Ireland)
- Scotch barley is dried with peat smoke, which gives the usual scotch aroma to whiskey.
- Scotch is cask aged for at least two years, Irish at least three years.
- Irish whiskey is distilled three times in more substantial than usual copper "pot" stills. The pot stills and the extra distillation produce a uniquely delicate drink. Developing later, Scotch uses continuous process stills.
- The rural poor, in Ireland, made whiskey first. The logic is whiskey developed in a bread eating culture. You grow grain, mill it for bread, and save some to sow next year's crop. In good seasons when you have extra, you make whiskey.
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