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Irish Whisky

Irish Whisky

Irish whisky was once classed as the premium whisky in the world, beating their main rivals, being distillers based in Scotland but the industry saw a huge decrease in the 1800’s. Look to the present and Irish whisky is seeing a boom again in the number of great distilleries opening all over Ireland. It has been reported that in recent years, exports of Irish whisky have been increased by 15% year on year which has helped the whisky industry grow in Ireland with new distilleries opening or expanding a current business.

One of the most notable things about Irish whisky is that peat is very rarely used during the malting process, results resulting in a much smoother finish when compared to the smoky tones of some scotches.

History of Irish Whisky

Ireland’s whisky making origins date back to 1608, when King James gave a “license to distil” to Sir Thomas Phillips who had landed in Bushmills County, allowing him to start the Old Bushmills Distillery.  It wasn’t until 1784 that the company registered to trade. The date of this license means that Old Bushmills Distillery has claim to the title of the oldest licensed distillery in the world, althought this fact is sometimes argued by the Scottish.

Irish whisky saw it’s height of popularity in the early part of the 1800’s with it being classed as the largest spirit market even when compared to England which had a much larger population. Due to the access of the British Empire, Irish whisky was able to be exported around the world which resulted in it becoming the world best loved spirit. This increase of popularity meant that many Irish distilleries expanded their properties and businesses.

However after this initial boom, the industry took a hit resulting in many distilleries closing down. The change in the market was result of many different factors including the Irish war of Independence, a trade war with Britain which resulted in the stopping of exports to the whole of the Commonwealth countries, prohibition in America and rising of taxes in the industry. With all of these factors coming together, the industry suffered seeing only a few distillers remain in operation as well as Scotland becoming the leader of whisky production in the world.

Today’s Irish Whisky Industry

In recent years the Irish whisky industry has seen great growth with many new distilleries opening up as well as some re-opening, including Kilbeggan Distillery which shut its doors back in 1954. It is said that by 2020 the Irish whisky industry could be producing around 12 million cases of whisky which is far more than it has ever produced in the past.

In today’s world, in order to be called an Irish whisky it must be produced following specific regulation some of which include:

-          Distilled within the island of Ireland

-          Maturing of the final product must last at least three years within wooden casks

-          Maturing must be done on the island of Ireland

The recent come back of whisky in Ireland has also seen the comeback of double distilled single malts, single pot still whisky as well as others. All of these styles produce some delightful tasting whiskies well worth a try. 

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