By: Dominic Milner
The origin of Irish whisky is a little cloudy, no one is actually sure when it was 1st created, it is summised that brewing started sometime in the 12th century.
Note that Irish whisky is written differently.Peat is almost never used when malting Irish whisky, resulting in a whisky with a smoother, sweeter flavour. In most Irish whiskys, the smoky, earthy flavors of Scotch are absent.
Common wisdom says that the Irish invented whisky, but it is speculated that the Scots perfected it. Both claims are open to doubt, if "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," then "perfection is on the tongue of the glassholder." In other words it is a question of taste. The word whisky comes from the Irish Gaelic term "uisce beatha" which translates as "water of life" ("uisce" is pronounced ish-ka).
There are fewer distilleries of Irish whisky than there are distillers of Scotch. Economic difficulties in the last couple of centuries have led to great number of mergers and closures.
Currently there are only three distilleries operating in the whole of Ireland (although each produces a number of different whiskies.) Irish whisky, like Scotch, comes in several forms. Like Scotch whisky, there is single malt, (100% malted barley and grain whisky.
Grain whisky is much lighter and more neutral in flavor than single malt and is almost never bottled as a single grain. It is instead used to blend with single malt to produce a lighter blended whisky.
Unique to Irish whisky distilling and something that the scotch have never followed on, is pure pot still whisky (100% barley, both malted and unmalted, distilled in a pot still). The "green" unmalted barley gives the pure pot still whisky a spicy, unique Irish quality. Like single malt, pure pot still is sold as such or blended with grain whisky.
Irish whisky is believed to be one of the earliest distilled beverages in Europe, dating to the mid-12th century). The Old Bushmills Distillery also lays claim to being the oldest licensed distillery in the world since gaining a license in 1608.