Well folks its March, which means two things; it is almost spring and we’re closing in on St. Patrick’s Day. And what better way to celebrate these two wonderful occasions, than which a dram of Irish whiskey?! As I have stated before I like to keep things thematic; heavy Islay scotch for those harsh winter months, bourbon in the summer, and a combination of libations for the autumn months that keep you guessing. To me, spring is the perfect time of the year for Irish whiskey, especially the earlier months of the season. My reasoning for this is because Irish whiskey is not overbearing on the palate. It tends to be light and loaded with those refreshing and floral notes that remind me of a warming sun and budding flowers. And now that we are switching gears from the heavier stuff, let’s go over what makes Irish whiskey different from bourbon and its Gaelic cousin Scotch.
Aside from the obvious, Irish whiskey is made in Ireland; due to the Irish Whiskey Act of 1980, Irish whiskey must meet the following criteria:
• ABV at the time of bottling must not exceed 94.8%.
• The spirit must be aged a minimum of 3 years in wooden casks.
• And must be labeled as “Blended” if two or more grains or malts are used in distillation.
Irish whiskey is also then divided into the following subcategories depending on the distillation method used on them:
• Single Pot Still: mixed mash of malted barley and unmalted “green” barley in a pot still.
• Single Malt: In which a distillery uses only their malts and no other grains or malts from an outside distillery.
• Single Grain: Certain grains other than barley (i.e. corn or wheat) are used for the mash.
• Blended: Two or more grains or malts are used in distillation.