Because of the similar methods of production and the proximity of the two countries where each is produced, a comparison of Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky is often made.
Much like Scotch, Irish whiskey is governed by specific rules of production the most important of which are that the whiskey is produced in Ireland, and matured (aged) in wooden casks in Ireland for at least 3 years.
There are however, some key differences between the two: Most Irish whiskey is distilled three times while Scotch, is most often only distilled twice. Peat, almost often used in the production of Scotch, is rarely used in the malting process of Irish Whiskey which has a smoother finish as opposed to the smokey, earthy overtones common to most Scotch whiskys.
Unique to the variety of Irish whiskey (as well as all other whiskeys) is the designation pure pot still whiskey. Single malt from Ireland is called “pure pot still” to differentiate it from most other Irish whiskey and refers to whiskey made from 100% barley, mixed malted and unmalted, and distilled in a pot still. The “green” unmalted barley gives the traditional pure pot still whiskey a unique, spicy flavour in Irish whiskey. Usually no real distinction is made between whether a blended whiskey was made from malt whiskey or pure pot still.
Interestingly, while there are over 90 distilleries in Scotland, there are only 4 in Ireland: New Midleton Distillery, Old Bushmills Distillery, Cooley Distillery, and the recently reopened Kilbeggan distillery. Still, there are many brands of Irish whiskey (Jameson, Bushmills, Black Bush to name a few) and each of the 4 distilleries produces several brands.
Our pick: Redbreast 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey