An Irish Whiskey Tour

Last summer my wife and I took a trip to Northern Ireland to celebrate milestone birthdays and to explore our Irish family roots. On St. Patrick’s Day this year, we stayed home, recreated some of the traditional Irish dishes, and opened the Irish Whiskey we brought back in our luggage. The cuisine of Ireland is comfort food, drawing from the land and sea. Potatoes, salmon, sausage, cabbage, oats and cheese are the most popular ingredients.

Traditional Irish whiskey differs from Scottish and American whiskies because it is distilled three times instead of twice. The more a liquid is distilled, the lighter, smoother and more alcoholic it becomes.” Single pot still whiskey” is used to describe a particular style of whiskey made in Ireland at a single distillery in a pot still. It is made from a mixed mash of unmalted green barley and malted barley. We tried lots of different brands of whiskey on our trip (after all, we WERE celebrating). Slàinte (a toast meaning “health” and pronounced “slahn-cha”) #IrishWhiskey

1.Old Bushmills Distillery, based in Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is the world’s oldest licensed distillery. King James I granted the governor of Antrim a license to distill in 1608, giving the distillery bragging rights. We had a lovely lunch and tried their selection of blended whiskies. We also learned that this institution was purchased by Jose Cuervo in 2014.

2. Redbreast 12 is regarded by critics as one of the foremost examples of excellence in the single pot still Irish whiskey category. It tastes like Christmas with its fruitcake nose, full bodied spicy marzipan palate and custard finish. It has been named Irish Whiskey of the Year multiple times.

3. The Powers John’s Lane Release 12-year old single pot still Irish whiskey is one of the best balanced that we drank. Smooth and earthy with spice and honey.

4. No longer in operation, The Old Jameson Distillery in Dublin is now a tourist attraction. Jameson blended whiskey is our choice for Irish coffee, so we had to try the Dublin version. The bar also serves Jameson cocktails and single pot still Jameson whiskey.

5. Tulamore Dew. The Tullamore Dew Single Malt whiskies contain both malted and unmalted barley-based whiskeys, triple distilled and aged between 12 to 15 years in old bourbon or sherry casks. Some pot-still whiskey is included in the blend. This was my wife’s favorite because she loved the vanilla-caramel-toffee nose, palate and finish.

6. Teeling Whiskey was distilled for 300 years in Dublin until 1976 when economic times closed it down. With the recent craft of distilling making a comeback, Teeling is now producing incredible whiskey. Our favorite was the small batch blended single grain whiskey with a sweet nose and woody finish.

7. Green Spot. This single pot still whiskey does not carry an age statement . It matures for 7-10 years in a mix of bourbon and Sherry casks which creates the sweet, minty, malty experience.

8. Midleton Very Rare. Before leaving for Ireland we heard that Midleton Very Rare was THE best Irish whiskey, but also very expensive because it is released in limited quantities. It is triple distilled and aged 12-25 years. We found a pub in Dublin that sold a relatively well-priced glass of it and savored the taste from our single glass. We enjoyed the experience but wouldn’t call it our favorite.

9. The Tyrconnell. Tyrconnell was the name of a racehorse in the 19th century that won at 100-1 odds. We love single malt scotch, so it is only fitting that we would try the pot still single malt whiskies in Ireland. Flowers, citrus and vanilla… what’s not to like about this Irish whiskey!

10. We had a glass of the mass produced whiskey, not the reserved or 18-year-old Kilbeggan. The inconsistencies are the fact that is double not triple distilled and the finish is not long and sweet.




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