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Irish Vs Scottish

What a lot of people do not realise, is that whiskey was as a matter of historical fact first produced in Ireland.

It’s very much like Champagne, whilst being a French regional wine, was actually first produced by an Englishman and not the French.


So…back to whiskey!

Whiskey production in Ireland resulted from the bread eating culture where the rural poor would grow grain, and use the mash from the grain to produce whiskey.


However, Scotland is credited for refining the spirit to the extent of regional differences. Indeed, even the spelling varies from ‘Whisky’ in Scotland, to what the Irish refer to as the correct spelling of ’Whiskey’.


Probably the main difference, and the one which is put to the forefront when making the comparisons, is the distillation process.


Scottish whisky is distilled twice.

Irish whiskey is distilled thrice.


This extra distillation, the third in the production process, is said to give the spirit its marked lightness.

Indeed, the distillation itself is done using pot stills which are three times the required size of the usual copper stills.

These distillation processes are what makes Irish Whiskey so very different from Scottish Whisky.


In addition there are marked pre distillation differences.

Scottish whisky is made using the the wholly malted barley, first allowing it to start sprouting before being dried. Peat is burnt and the smoke used in the drying process to add that very distinctive Scottish whisky aroma.


Irish whiskey uses raw and malted barley at the pot still level. The barley is kiln dried and kept free from atmospheric interference to maintain the natural flavours of the barley.

The very start of the process is very different as can be seen.

With Irish whiskey there is a greater importance placed on the distilling process, whilst with Scottish whisky the importance is placed firmly at the feet of the master blender and his expertise.


Scottish whiskey is largely produced by blending various mature malt and grain whiskies, thus the term  ‘blending’.


The Irish whiskey producers believe that the ‘skill’ is in having the right materials, the right distillates, to begin with. This is called ‘vatting’.


Whiskey whether Irish or Scottish, cannot be sold until they have aged for a set period of years. This also has a difference, with the Scottish requiring two years and the Irish Three years, minimum.


Then there comes the aging process, all producers will have their own preference from he type of wooden barrels / casks to the place of storage. Aging is standard at 8 years, 16 years, 21 years and more.


Both Irish and Scottish whiskies have rules governing what can be called their respective whiskies. And for once these are largely shared. For example, Scottish whisky can only be produced and matured in Scotland whilst Irish Whiskey also must be fully produced in Ireland.


Another comparison can be made to wine production. Most quality wines in Europe will have huge pressures placed upon how the grape is harvested through to the process of juice extraction. Some producers will require the juice to be pressed in a way as not to cut into the skin of the grape, others will only hand pick the grapes. Whilst some of the newer producers on a vast scale for the commercial market, will virtually use huge liquidizers and zap everything before sifting out the unwanted elements.

The end result is wine, the difference is in taste, often quality and cost, but wine nonetheless.

WHISKEY DISTILLERIES

Currently, there are twelve distilleries operating in Ireland, though many of these are recently established and have not yet aged its spirits for sale as whiskey:


Alltech Craft Distillery (est. 2012) (USA compnay)

As of 2016 it remains too early for their spirits to have aged as required for sale as whiskey.


Blackwater Distillery (est. 2015)

As of 2016, distilling gin and poitin, and has not yet had time to age its spirits as required for sale as whiskey.


Cooley Distillery    BEAM SUNTORY

Formerly a potato alcohol plant  from 1987. Beam Suntory acquired the distillery in 2011.

Currently produces Connemara, Michael Collins and Tyrconnell.


Dingle Distillery (est. 2012)

As of 2016 it remains too early for their spirits to have aged as required for sale as whiskey.

Produces WHISKEY, VODKA and GIN under the DINGLE brand.


The Echlinville Distillery (est. 2013)

First Northern Irish distillery to be granted a distilling license in almost 125 years.

Produces: JAWBOX, DUNVILLES, BAN POITIN


Glendalough Distillery (est. 2013)

The Glendalough distillery currently ages and finishes whiskeys from other distillers, and also distills gin and poitin. GLENDALOUGH SINGLE GRAIN DOUBLE BARREL WHISKEY


Kilbeggan Distillery (est. 2007)    BEAM SUNTORY

Also owned by Beam Suntory since 2011

Producing: KILBEGGAN, 2GINGERS, TYRCONNEL, CONNEMARA


New Midleton Distillery (est. 1975, owned by Pernod Ricard since 1988)

Producing whiskey brands: JAMESON, PADDY, POWERS, MIDLETON VERY RARE, SINGLE POT STILL, REDBREAST, GREEN SPOT, YELLOW SPOT, MIDLETON BARRY CROCKETT LEGACY.

Plus producing spirits;

MARTELL, MALIBU, KAHLUA, RAMAZZOTTI, HAVANA CLUB, OLMECA, RICARD, PERNOD, ABSOLUT, HUZZAR, WYBOROWA, CORK DRY GIN, BEEFEATER, CHIVAS REGAL 12 YEAR OLD, BALLANTINE'S FINEST

 

Old Bushmills Distillery (1784)

The oldest licensed distillery in the world, owned by Diageo from 2005-2014 and now owned by Jose Cuervo.

Producing BUSHMILLS in 10, 12, 6- and 21-year-old single malts, as well as IRISH HONEY.


Teeling Distillery (est. 2015)

This new distillery was only built in 2015 by the Teeling Whiskey Company Dublin.

This was the first newly built  distillery in Dublin city for 125 years.

TEELING, POITIN, SPIRIT OF DUBLIN


Tullamore Distillery (est. 2014)

Established in 2014, the distillery has an annual capacity of over 1.5 million cases per year.

TULLAMORE DEW,


West Cork Distillers (est. 2008)

Based in Cork. LOUGH HYNE, KENNEDY, DROMBEG, WEST CORK, TWO TREES

The word "whiskey" is an Anglicisation of uisce beatha or uisge beatha from the Goidelic branch of languages (Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx) meaning

"Water of Life"

Most Irish whiskey is commonly is distilled thrice, whilst most, but certainly not all Scottish whisky is distilled twice.

Irish whiskey tends to have a smoother finish rather that the smokey, earthy overtones common to some Scottish whiskey.

Irish whiskey was once the most popular spirit in the world, surpassing Scottish whiskey as the favoured whiskey across the United Kingdom, which was the most important market for whiskies.

 Comparisons with Scotland are innevitable, as they are considered the home of all whiskies.

Whilst Scotland currently has approximately 105 working distilleries, Ireland has just 12, with some being too young  to qualify as whiskey, which is strictly regulated frrom London and needs to be at a  minimum of  3 years of age. The majority being 5 - 10 years as a starter!

Of these,  only four have been in operation long enough to have products sufficiently aged to meet requirements, with only one having been in operation before 1975.


There is a big difference between Irish whiskey and Scottish. However, that is why there should be no constant comparison, precisely because it is a unique product, just as wines are from district to district and country to variety.

Irish whiskey has seen a great resurgence in popularity since the late twentieth century, and has been the fastest growing spirit in the world every year since 1990.

The current growth rate is at roughly 20% per annum, prompting the construction and expansion of a number of distilleries. China, since their economic rise, has become a major market for classic whiskies, where buyers treat the spirit as a social marker.