Ah, whiskey. The water of life.
And we’re not just saying that. The word “whiskey” actually comes from a Gaelic word that means “water of life.” So, it’s perfect for St. Patrick’s Day, right?
Lucky for us, the Irish know their s*** and make good whiskey. But, what makes it different from the rest? Two things: the grain they use and how the grain is distilled.
HOW IT'S MADE
Irish whiskey is made from cereal grains, like a bran cereal. The flavors are unique to Ireland because of the location, the amount of rain they get and all the grains they have. Malted is expensive and tedious, but produces the most flavor, while blended starts with malted grains, then the addition of a neutral grain spirit, like another whiskey, makes the flavor lighter.
To get the best flavor in distilling, a single pot still is the way to go. It’s a copper pot where only one batch can be distilled at a time, so it’s, again, expensive and tedious, but the result’s flavor rings true to Irish whiskey when it all began.
A Coffey–or column–still continuously distills the whiskey to the point where it can turn into vodka if you leave it in long enough. You’ll find a lot of blended grains are distilled this way because you get a lighter, more neutral tasting whiskey.
The last step is aging it in barrels. The two rules of aging Irish whiskey are it must be aged for at least three years and the barrels can never leave Ireland. Easy enough.
If you read our blog on American whiskeys, you’d know they can only be aged in brand new barrels. So, what do they do with the used barrels? Ship them to Ireland.
TIME TO DRINK
Now that we’ve told you a little bit about how they make Irish whiskey, we need to tell you what Irish whiskey to drink on St. Paddy’s Day (and every other day).
Blended grains and distilling three times over give this house favorite its signature smoothness. Drink Jamo on the rocks, neat or in a cocktail. We’ll make you a good one.
Want to spice things up for St. Patrick? Try Redbreast 12 neat. It’s aged in bourbon-seasoned American oak barrels and Oloroso Sherry-seasoned Spanish oak butts, which add spicy, fruity, charred and sherry notes.
Also triple distilled, like Jameson, and aged in bourbon and sherry casks, like Red Breast, you’d think all Irish whiskeys are the same. Wrong-O. Tullamore D.E.W. is light and citrusy yet a little toasty with a vanilla finish. Take it like the traditional Irish whiskey drinkers with a few drops of water or on ice or neat.
Slane Irish Whiskey
This whiskey’s aged in three varieties of casks, virgin and seasoned casks and Oloroso sherry casks from Spain, then blended into one delicious whiskey. Take a crack at a glass of Slane neat for a smooth drink with notes of oak and spice.
Four Roses Bourbon
It’s not Irish, but it’s still good.