Say what? It’s Irish for ‘water of life’. Today, most just say whiskey. In the broadest definition, whiskey (or whisky) is defined as a spirit produced from fermented grain and aged in wood. Today whiskeys are made around the world…Irish whiskey is made in (you guessed it) Ireland…Scotch is whisky is made in Scotland and…Bourbon is whiskey made in the USA.
Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky are the oldest styles of the dark distilled spirit. Which one was created first is a matter of historical debate. Whiskey was originally used as a medicine, both as an internal anesthetic and an external antibiotic.
Historical accounts indicate that whiskey was first made in Ireland several hundred years before it was made anywhere else. Irish monks started to produce this around 1200 CE when the art of distilling spirits made it from the Mediterranean to Ireland. Since wine was not easily obtained there, barley beer was distilled into a liquor which became uisce beatha, which the world later called whiskey. The manufacturing of distilled spirits was limited to apothecaries and monasteries until the late 15th century.
An Irish Whiskey must be distilled and aged for a minimum of three years in Ireland. Typically, Irish whiskeys are triple-distilled from unmalted barley. That having been said, it can be double-distilled, made from malted or unmalted barley, or other grains. It can be designated as Blended or Single Malt and even Single Grain, as long as the whiskey is distilled and aged in Ireland and labeled appropriately.
Single malt or grain or blended, Irish whiskies are a favorite worldwide, due to their exceptional smoothness and easy drinkability. With the brighter days and still-cool nights leading to St. Patrick’s Day and Spring, it’s a perfect time to pour a sipper or mix up an Irish whiskey cocktail. At vomFASS-Madison we have four unique Irish Whiskey expressions and recipes to share with you (see below). We invite you to come in and enjoy a tasting. You’ll want to add these interesting and award winning whiskeys to your collection!
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