The Origin and History of Irish Whisky

The Origin and History of Irish Whisky

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The origin of Irish whisky is a little cloudy, no one is actually sure when it was 1st created, it is surmised that brewing started sometime in the 12th century.

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Whiskey, also known as whisky, is as much a broad categorization of spirits as it is a spirit type. If you aren’t a whiskey enthusiast, you might be wondering what the difference is between whiskey and whisky, or what the deal is with whiskey vs. bourbon or scotch. One determinant between whiskey and whisky is where it is produced. Whiskey from Ireland and the United States is usually spelled with the “e.” Whisky from Scotland, Canada, Japan, and elsewhere is spelled without the “e.” So, regional grammar is why you’ll see Scotch Whisky but Irish Whiskey on the shelves. Most whiskey distillers use the plural form “whiskeys” to hint that they referring to whiskey; whereas whisky is usually pluralized as “whiskies.” The difference between types of whiskies like bourbon, rye, or scotch is a bit more complex. Along with country of origin, the type of whiskey or whisky is also determined by the grain used in the distillation process. Different grains produce different taste characteristics. Couple that with varying distillation methods by region and producer, and you get a wide range of flavors from sweet to spicy and from smooth to bold and smokey. Explore more about the types of whiskey below:

History of Whisky

Irish whisky is barley, malt whisky made in Ireland. Irish whisky resembles Scotch whiskey in that its ingredients and formulation is slightly different.

Note that Irish whisky is written differently.Peat is almost never used when malting Irish whisky, resulting in a whisky with a smoother, sweeter flavour. In most Irish whiskys, the smoky, earthy flavors of Scotch are absent.

Common wisdom says that the Irish invented whisky, but it is speculated that the Scots perfected it. Both claims are open to doubt, if "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," then "perfection is on the tongue of the glassholder." In other words it is a question of taste. The word whisky comes from the Irish Gaelic term "uisce beatha" which translates as "water of life" ("uisce" is pronounced ish-ka).

There are fewer distilleries of Irish whisky than there are distillers of Scotch. Economic difficulties in the last couple of centuries have led to great number of mergers and closures.

Currently there are only three distilleries operating in the whole of Ireland (although each produces a number of different whiskies.) Irish whisky, like Scotch, comes in several forms. Like Scotch whisky, there is single malt, (100% malted barley and grain whisky.

Grain whisky is much lighter and more neutral in flavor than single malt and is almost never bottled as a single grain. It is instead used to blend with single malt to produce a lighter blended whisky.

Unique to Irish whisky distilling and something that the scotch have never followed on, is pure pot still whisky (100% barley, both malted and unmalted, distilled in a pot still). The "green" unmalted barley gives the pure pot still whisky a spicy, unique Irish quality. Like single malt, pure pot still is sold as such or blended with grain whisky.

Irish whisky is believed to be one of the earliest distilled beverages in Europe, dating to the mid-12th century). The Old Bushmills Distillery also lays claim to being the oldest licensed distillery in the world since gaining a license in 1608.

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