By: Scott Ritenbaugh
Irish whiskey has more latitude than bourbon, Scotch, or Tennessee whiskey. With no one defined dominant grain or production method, the category of Irish whiskey lends itself to a wide breadth of flavors. It is worth note that most Irish whiskey is triple distilled.
Per the Irish revenue authorities as conforming with the Department of Agriculture’s 2014 technical file for a product to be classified as an Irish Whiskey, it must meet the following requirements:
• It Is produced on the island of Ireland
• It is made from cereal grains
• It is distilled at no more than 190 proof
• It is aged in Ireland in wooden casks for at least three years
While Irish whiskey production is similar to Scotch in many ways, Irish whiskey doesn’t commonly use peat in the malting process.
FIVE TYPES OF IRISH WHISKEY:
SINGLE MALT* is made from only water and malted barley at a single distillery and made in pot stills.
SINGLE GRAIN* is made at a single distillery and is made with multiple grains (malted or unmalted) in addition to water and malted barley. The term Single Grain is a bit misleading: the word “single” refers to the fact it comes from one distillery, not one grain.
•Kilbeggan Single Grain
•Teeling Single Grain
SINGLE POT STILL is made from malted and unmalted barley distilled only in a pot still.
GRAIN IRISH WHISKEY is made in a continuous distillation (column still) and from unmalted grains. The vast majority of grain whiskey is used to make blended whiskey, a product made by mixing column still product with pot still product.
* No Legal Definition
BLENDED IRISH WHISKEY is a blend between whiskeys made in a pot still and a column still.
•Middleton Very Rare
Regardless of whether the blended whiskey is made from combining grain whiskey with either single malt whiskey or with single pot still whiskey or both, it is labelled with the same terminology.