Most of us are familiar with Irish whisky. It’s that smooth, rich liquor that’s often used in mixed drinks and comes from Ireland. But did you know that Irish whiskey comes in a variety of flavors? And that they aren’t all created equal?
Whether you are new to the world of Irish whisky or are simply looking to expand your horizons, this guide is for you. Here, the Whisky Club will introduce you to the four most popular types of Irish whisky and their unique flavour profiles.
Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Single malt whiskey is made using only malted barley and water. The barley is distilled in copper pot stills, and the whiskey is aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels. Single malt whiskey is usually the most expensive and is often seen as the “purist’s choice.”
Moreover, if you see the word “single” on a bottle of whiskey, it means that all spirits inside were produced at a single distillery.
Single Grain Irish Whiskey
Single grain whiskey is also made using only water and barley, but unlike single malt whiskey, the barley is not malted. This type of whiskey is usually distilled in column stills and is often used as a base for blended whiskeys. You’ll find that single grain whiskey is lighter in flavor and body than single malt whiskey.
Blended Irish Whiskey
Blended whiskey is made by mixing single malt and single grain whiskeys. The ratio of malt to grain can vary, but most blended whiskeys contain more grain than malt whiskey. This type of whiskey is one of the most popular and is often seen as the “everyman’s whiskey.” It will usually have a more consistent flavor than single malt or single grain whiskey since it is a blend of different spirits.
Single Pot Still Whiskey
Single pot still whiskey is a bit of a rarity. It’s made using a mixture of malted and unmalted barley, which is then distilled in a pot still. This type of whiskey was once the most popular in Ireland but fell out of favor when column stills were introduced in the 18th century.
Now, only a handful of producers of single-pot still whiskey. If you can find it, this type of whiskey is usually full-bodied and rich, with a spicy flavor.
Is Irish Differ from Scotch?
The main difference between Irish and Scotch whiskey is how they are distilled. Scotch whiskey is only distilled twice, whereas Irish whiskey is distilled three times. This extra distillation leads to a smoother flavor in Irish whiskey.
Many also believe Irish whiskey is lighter and less peaty than Scotch whiskey. It is because most Irish whiskey is distilled using unmalted barley, while Scotch whiskey is usually made with malted barley. The malt gives Scotch whiskey its characteristic smoky flavor.
Whatever your preference, there’s sure to be an Irish whiskey out there that you’ll enjoy. But how will you know which one to choose? Below, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you select the right Irish whiskey for your taste.
How Do I Choose the Right Irish Whiskey?
Now that you know the basics of Irish whiskey, it’s time to choose the right bottle for your taste.
Irish whisky: Start with the basics
If you’re new to Irish whiskey, start with a blended whiskey. These are made from a mix of different whiskeys and are typically lighter and smoother than single malt or single grain whiskeys. For instance, Jameson is a popular blended Irish whiskey.
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Consider your budget:
Irish whiskey can range in price from around $20 to $200 or more. If you’re just starting, it’s best to stick to a lower-priced bottle. Once you’ve developed a taste for Irish whiskey, you can start exploring the more expensive options.
Decide what you want to use it for:
Are you looking for a whiskey to drink neat or on the rocks? Or do you want something to mix into cocktails? The answer to this question will help narrow down your choices.
Talk to friends and family members who already enjoy Irish whiskey. See if they have any recommendations. Or, if you’re at a bar or restaurant that carries Irish whiskey, ask the bartender or server for their recommendation.
Sample a few different types:
Once you’ve narrowed your choices, it’s time to start sampling. Order a flight of Irish whiskey at your local bar or purchase a few small bottles to taste at home. It will help you determine which type of Irish whiskey is right for you.
No matter which type of Irish whiskey you choose, we’re sure you’ll enjoy it. So sit back, relax, and sip the “water of life.” Sláinte!
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