Thursday, March 4, 2010

Irish Whiskey

You probably have a favorite Irish whiskey and I like several. In Ireland they call it Uisce Bretha which is Irish Gaelic for “water of life” (slightly different spelling from the Scottish Gaelic but same meaning) . Standard Irish whiskey is a blend of malted and grain whiskey. My first encounter with Irish was probably in Irish coffee and usually that was either Bushmills or Jameson. Bushmills is distilled in Northern Ireland at the world’s oldest distillery (1608) and Jameson in the Republic of Ireland. Each distillery produces a variety of labels. Bushmills produces regular Bushmills, Black Bush, and Bushmills Single Malts in 10, 16, and 21 year varieties. Each costs a bit more that the last and each tastes a bit better (to me) than the last one. Visit the Bushmills website to get details on what goes in to each delicious bottle. I drank the regular Bushmills for years and left it only when I found the Black Bush. Being fickle again I left the Black Bush for the single malt 10 and finally the single malt 16. I regret deeply that I have yet to try the 21 but I am as certain as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow that the 21 is outstanding and I look forward to my first go at it. My experience with the 16 allows me to suggest that you will probably love it as much as I do. If money is a bit tight then the 10 is still a great drink.
In most of the pubs I have been in around Ireland I have also seen a lot of Paddy’s, John Powers, and Tullamore Dew. Also you may find Midleton which is a really fine sipping Irish that I have had the privilege of sampling at a friend’s home in Galway, it is outstanding. In fact we drank our first couple of drinks of Midleton and then my host switched us to Paddy’s stating that once you have had a couple your taste buds are numb and we cannot enjoy it so we will now switch to the daily stuff. I once hand-carried a bottle of Tullamore Dew on the plane (back when you could still do that) all the way back to Florida only to find it sitting grandly on the shelf of my local liquor store a week later. So a word about bringing Whisky (ey) home from your trip to Scotland, Ireland, England, etc. That is, unless it is something rare or you just feel like you have to pick up some duty free, don’t. Before the late 1990’s it was worthwhile to bring home the good stuff but today you can pretty much get everything near your home without worrying about breaking bottles or having someone abscond with your bottles from your luggage.
You will find a large variety of Irish whiskey today and many pleasant surprises to delight the palate in each distillery’s product line. I was very happy to see the single malts come out a few years back and the Irish craftsmen have really done a fine job with sherry, port and Madeira casks rotating the whiskey in and out of various ones to create a glorious and most delightful experience for the imbiber.
I hope you all enjoy trying various Irish whiskies and that you chime in to this blog to let us know your favorites and how you choose to enjoy it. Recipes are also welcome for both cocktails and foods that can be made with whiskey. Happy St. Paddy’s day to all
The Whiskey Warrior

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