Irish Whiskey PGI 2008: the word Whiskey comes from “Fuisce” or “uisce beatha” which means water of life in Goidelic or Gaelic. Unlike the Scottish variety (Whisky) it’s distilled three times and made from unmalted grain which is probably why I like it (see Glenkinchie distillery tour).
As the story goes Monks brought perfume distillation (bit unusual for Monks) to Ireland from the continent in 1000ad and the naughty locals used the distillation to make alcohol. I’d say that was a story made to protect the Holy Fathers, whereever there’s been Monks there’s been booze.
The word Whiskey was first recorded in Ireland in 1405 almost 100 years before any mention of it in Scotland.
Irish Whiskey was once the most popular spirit in the world. In the 1900s Irish Distilleries produced 12 million cases per year. Due to prohibition in the United States, the Irish civil war, war of independence and trade disputes with Britain production went down to a mere 500,000 cases by the 1970s. Distilleries closed on mass.
The remaining two distilleries were bought out by big companies and Irish Whiskey received a much needed shot in the arm of marketing. It’s now the fastest growing spirit market and since 2007 several new distilleries have opened, some are so new their Whiskeys haven’t made it to market yet. There’s also several more in the pipeline.
Blackbush from Old Bushmills in Northern Ireland was always my favourite but I’m very willing to try some of the newer spirits as soon as they hit the shelves or we can organise a Whiskey tour of Ireland. Old Bushmills claims to be the oldest existing licensed distillery in the world, with a licence dating back to 1608 and James I.
Irish Whiskey was awarded Protected Geographical Indication in 2008, well over due in my opinion.
You can buy it most places but if you want to try some of the newer whiskeys try going direct via the links below.