World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Irish whiskey

Article Id: WHEBN0000188294
Reproduction Date:

Title: Irish whiskey  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Jameson Irish Whiskey, Clontarf (whiskey), Redbreast (whiskey), Single pot still whiskey, Tullamore Dew
Collection: Irish Whiskey
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Irish whiskey

Irish whiskey
Irish whiskeys
Type Whiskey
Country of origin Ireland
Alcohol by volume 40–94.8%

Irish whiskey (Irish: Fuisce or uisce beatha) is whiskey made on the island of Ireland.

The word "whiskey" is an Anglicisation of uisce beatha or uisge beatha, a phrase from the Goidelic branch of languages (Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx) meaning "water of life" (see aqua vitae).

Most Irish pot still whiskey is distilled thrice, while most (but not all) Scotch whisky is distilled twice. Peat is rarely used in the malting process, so that Irish whiskey has a smoother finish as opposed to the smoky, earthy overtones common to some Scotches. There are notable exceptions to these rules in both countries; an example is Connemara peated Irish malt (double distilled) whiskey from the Cooley Distillery in Riverstown, Cooley, County Louth.

Irish whiskey was once the most popular spirit in the world, though a long period of decline from the late 19th century onwards greatly damaged the industry.[1] Although Scotland sustains approximately 105 distilleries, Ireland has only seven in current operation – only four of which have been operating long enough to have products sufficiently aged for current sale on the market as of 2013, and only one of which was operating before 1975. 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.[1] The current growth rate is at roughly 20% per annum, prompting the construction and expansion of a number of distilleries.


  • History 1
  • Legal definition 2
  • Current distilleries in Ireland 3
    • Planned or under construction 3.1
  • Types 4
    • Examples 4.1
  • See also 5
  • References 6
    • Notes 6.1
    • Bibliography 6.2
  • External links 7


The word 'whiskey' (or whisky) comes from the Gaelic uisce beatha, meaning water of life. Irish whiskey was one of the earliest distilled drinks in Europe, arising around the 12th century (see Distilled beverage). It is believed that Irish monks brought the technique of distilling perfumes back to Ireland from their travels to the Mediterranean countries around 1000 A.D. The Irish then modified this technique to obtain a drinkable spirit. Whiskey was first recorded in Ireland in 1405. It was later recorded in Scotland in 1494.[2] The Old Bushmills Distillery claims to be the oldest surviving licensed distillery in the world (the distillery claims a heritage to a licence from James I in 1608, and the Bushmills distillery company was established in 1784). A statute introduced in the late 16th century introduced a viceregal licence for the manufacture of whiskey.[3]

In the early twentieth century Irish whiskey was the most popular whiskey in the United States,[4] however prohibition between 1920 and 1933 greatly upset the export market and forced many distilleries out of business. The Irish War of Independence and subsequent civil war also made exporting whiskey difficult and following independence a series of trade disputes with Britain cut off export to all Commonwealth countries, greatly hampering the industry. By the 1960s there was only a handful of remaining distilleries in Ireland, and in 1966 they amalgamated under the name of Irish Distillers to combine their resources. By the mid-1970s there were only two distilleries in Ireland, those of New Midleton and Bushmills, both owned by Irish Distillers. Production reached a nadir at about 400,000 - 500,000 cases per annum during the seventies, from a height of 12 million cases around 1900.[1] The takeover of Irish Distillers by Pernod Ricard in 1988 led to increased marketing of Irish whiskeys, especially Jameson. Since the early 1990s Irish whiskey has undergone a major resurgence and has for over 20 years been the fastest growing spirit in the world. Production rose from 4.4 million cases in 2008 to 6.5 million in 2013, with growth projected to rise to 12 million cases by 2018.[5] As of 2013, roughly 800 people were employed full-time in the whiskey industry in Ireland.[6]

Legal definition

Key regulations defining Irish whiskey and its production are established by the Irish Whiskey Act of 1980,[7] and are relatively simple (for example, in contrast with those for Scotch and Bourbon whiskey). They can be summarised as follows:

  • Irish whiskey must be distilled and aged on the island of Ireland; that is, either in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland
  • The contained spirits must be distilled to an alcohol by volume level of less than 94.8% from a yeast-fermented mash of cereal grains (saccharified by the diastase of malt contained therein, with or without other natural diastases) in such a way that the distillate has an aroma and flavour derived from the materials used
  • The product must be aged for at least three years in wooden casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres (185 US gal; 154 imp gal)
  • If the spirits comprise a blend of two or more such distillates, the product is referred to as a "blended" Irish whiskey

There are several types of whiskey common to Ireland, including those referred to as "single pot still", "single malt", "single grain", and "blended". But in contrast to the Scotch Whisky Regulations of 2009, the Irish Whiskey Act of 1980 does not actually contain a definition of the terms "single malt Irish whiskey" or "single grain Irish whiskey" or specific rules governing their production, so the exact definitions of these terms may not be clearly established.

Current distilleries in Ireland

Irish whiskey is located in island of Ireland
West Cork Distillery
Glendalough Distillery
Blackwater Distillery
Alltech Distillery
Echlinville Distillery
Teeling Distillery
Tullamore Distillery
Distilleries operating in Ireland in 2015

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) – has not yet had time to age its spirits for sale as whiskey[8]
  • Blackwater Distillery (est. 2015) - Currently (as of 2015) distilling gin and poitin, and has not yet had time to age its spirits for sale as whiskey.
  • Cooley Distillery (converted from a potato alcohol plant in 1987, owned by Beam Suntory since 2011) – producing Connemara, Michael Collins, Tyrconnell, and others
  • Dingle Distillery (est. 2012) – has not yet had time to age its spirits for sale as whiskey[9][10]
  • The Echlinville Distillery (est. 2013) - Distills Dunvilles. First Northern Irish distillery to be granted a distilling license in almost 125 years.[11]
  • Glendalough Distillery (est. 2013) - The Glendalough distillery currently ages and finishes whiskeys from other distillers, and also distills gin and poitin.[12]
  • Kilbeggan Distillery (est. 2007, owned by Beam Suntory since 2011)
  • New Midleton Distillery (est. 1975, owned by Pernod Ricard since 1988) – producing Jamesons, Powers, Paddy, Midleton, Redbreast, and others, including the independently sold rarity Green Spot
  • Old Bushmills Distillery (the oldest licensed distillery in the world, est. 1784, owned by Diageo 2005-2014 and now owned by Jose Cuervo) – producing all Old Bushmills, Black Bush, 1608, Bushmills 10-, 12- and 16- and 21-year-old single malts
  • Teeling Distillery (est. 2015). This distillery, built by the Teeling Whiskey Company in Newmarket in the Liberties in Dublin, was the first new distillery in Dublin city in 125 years.[13][14]
  • Tullamore Distillery (est. 2014) - A distillery with an annual capacity of 1.5 million cases per year, opened in September 2014.[15]
  • West Cork Distillers (est. 2008 in Union Hall, Cork)

Planned or under construction

A further distillery is planned for Royal Oak in Carlow, being built by Walsh Whiskey Distillery. The distillery is expected have a capacity of 500,000 cases a year and is being funded by Italian drinks company Illva Saronno.[16] Planning permission was granted in July 2014 and construction is expected to begin in September 2014.[17]

John Teeling, founder of the Cooley Distillery, has revealed plans to develop the Great Northern Brewery in Dundalk as a distillery in a €35 million investment.[1] The site was owned by Diageo and was mainly used to brew Harp Lager. The distillery will be the second largest in Ireland and will cater mainly for the third party market, a market Cooley catered for prior to the Beam takeover.[18] The expected annual output is 3.5 million cases. John Teeling's sons also set up a craft distillery in The Liberties, Dublin,[19] which began operation in 2014.[20]

Planning permission has been received for a distillery in Derry, to be built by Niche Drinks who are investing £15 million in the project.[21]

In 2013 Lord Henry Mount Charles received planning permission to build a €12 million distillery in the grounds of Slane Castle.

Construction of the Nephin Whiskey distillery is underway in the village of Lahardaun, County Mayo after planning permission was granted in 2015.[22]

A combined distillery and brewery in Drogheda was announced in September 2015. The €20 million Boann Distillery and Boyne Brewhouse project is planned to open in 2016, and is led by drinks industry businessman Pat Cooney.[23]

In addition to the four distilleries that have been operating long enough to currently offer products sufficiently aged for sale, there are a number of independently owned brands, such as Tullamore Dew (until maturation of new spirit from Tullamore) and Clontarf 1014, that purchase the spirits that they bottle from the operating distilleries.[24]


Irish whiskeys
More Irish whiskeys

Irish whiskey comes in several forms. If the whiskey is continuously distilled from unmalted grains, it is referred to as grain whiskey. This lighter and more neutral spirit is rarely found on its own and the vast majority of grain whiskey is used to make blended whiskey, a product made by mixing column still product with richer and more intense pot still product. Irish whiskeys made in a pot still fall into two categories. Those made entirely from malted barley distilled in a pot still are referred to as single malt whiskeys, a style also very commonly associated with Scotch whisky. The second style of Irish pot still whiskey is single pot still whiskey, made from a mixture of malted and unmalted barley completely distilled in a pot still. This latter style has also been historically referred to as "pure pot still" whiskey and "Irish pot still whiskey", Older bottlings often bear these names. Regardless of whether the blended whiskey is made from combining grain whiskey with either single malt whiskey or with single pot still whiskey, it is labelled with the same terminology.


See also



  1. ^ a b c d "Distillers in high spirits as the whiskey sector enters golden era". 8 November 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  2. ^ {}
  3. ^ Robert Dudley Edwards (1977). Ireland in the age of the Tudors. Google Books (Harper & Row). Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  4. ^ Needs attribution
  5. ^ "55 new jobs at Carlow whiskey distillery". 16 October 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "Irish whiskey industry launches fresh assault on Scotland's dominance". 13 December 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Irish Whiskey Act of 1980, Irish Statute Book, 1980
  8. ^ Distilling Begins in Carlow for Alltech's Irish Whiskey, Alltech, 12 November 2012.
  9. ^ Dingle Distillery
  10. ^
  11. ^ Newenham, Pamela (23 January 2014). "Irish Whiskey brand returns 80 years after Prohibition". The Irish Times. Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  12. ^ Dromey, Trish (18 May 2015). "Toasting success of craft distillery". The Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Burke-Kennedy, Eoin (16 October 2013). "Whiskey Distillery to create 55 jobs for Carlow". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  15. ^ Sod is turned on Tullamore Dew distillery,, 14 September 2013.
  16. ^ Kenny, Ciara (16 October 2013). "Whiskey Distillery to create 55 jobs for Carlow". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  17. ^ "Walsh Whiskey Distillery has now obtained full planning permission for its new state-of-the-art distillery in Royal Oak, Co. Carlow". 28 July 2014. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  18. ^ "Irish Whiskey Company acquires Diageo Dundalk brewery". 22 August 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  19. ^ "The Teeling Whiskey Brand returns after 231 years". Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  20. ^ Taylor, Charlie (29 January 2014). "Teelings to establish a new distillery in Dublin". The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  21. ^ "Niche Cream Alcoholic Drinks: Whiskey Producers Ireland". Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  22. ^ McNulty, Anton (20 January 2015). "Planning Permission granted for Lahardaun distillery". The Mayo News. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  23. ^ Taylor, Charlie (2 September 2015). "Over 80 jobs for Drogheda with new distillery and brewery". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  24. ^ "Irish Whiskey Distillery". Planet Whiskies. 26 March 2011. Retrieved 26 March 2011. 


  • Barry, Aoife (9 April 2014). "Whiskey’s going to be bringing a lot of dosh to Ireland over the next 10 years…".  
  • Buecheler, Christopher (2013). "An Introduction to Irish Whiskey". Primer Magazine. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  • Clarke, Jim (April 2004). "Irish Whiskey Shows Its Independent Side". Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  • Cohen, Brad (22 October 2013). "We're Bringing Whiskey Back".  
  • Curran, Richard (19 December 2013). "A re-invigorated Irish whiskey industry is distilling a new golden age".  
  • Hallock, Betty (13 March 2014). "9 Irish whiskeys to try right now".  
  • McDonald, Henry (14 December 2013). "Irish whiskey industry launches fresh assault on Scotland's dominance".  
  • McFarland, Ben; Sandham, Tom (15 Mar 2014). "A beginner's guide to Irish whiskey".  
  • McGarry, Jack (19 February 2014). "The 5 Biggest Irish Whiskey Myths".  
  • O'Shea, James (26 February 2014). "Sales of Irish whiskey in North America up 17.5 percent". IrishCentral website. IrishCentral LLC. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  • Paskin, Becky (17 March 2014). "Ireland's new Irish whiskey distilleries". The Spirits Business. Union Press Ltd. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  • Phelps, David (17 March 2014). "Twin Cities pub master is taking his Irish whiskey on the road".  
  • Ramirez, Mark (15 March 2014). "Return of the king: Irish whiskey on the rise, aiming to rise above bar-shot status".  
  • Smyth, Jamie (8 September 2013). "Irish distillers order a triple as whiskey flows".  
  • Spain, William (15 March 2014). "America is awash with Irish whiskey".  
  • Toland, Bill (13 March 2014). "'"Spirits: Irish whiskey is going 'through the roof.  
  • Viera, Lauren (5 May 2013). "Irish whiskey's growth spurt".  
  • Wondrich, David (January 2014). "Why you're drinking Irish whiskey all of a sudden".  

External links

  • The Irish Whiskey Society Irish Whiskey discussion forum
  • Poteen Making / Déantús an Phoitín DVD – 'Singling' & Story from John William Seoige YouTube – documentary on the origins and process of whiskey making
  • Irish Whiskey Act, 1980 Government of Ireland
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.