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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lew on Irish Whisky

In the debate among whisk(e)ys, bourbon and Scotch generally manage a filibuster. Irish Whisky, gentle, softspoken, demure, stands in the corner smiling coyly. Lew Bryson has a nice article today that gives Éire her due.
“There’s been such a huge amount of new Irish whiskeys coming on the market,” David Quinn told me. He’s the head of quality control at the Midleton Distillery, where they make Jameson, Redbreast, Powers, and others. (He’s also the former master distiller at Bushmills, so the man knows his whiskey.) “[They’re coming] not just from ourselves but from all the Irish whiskey makers as well. People are becoming more aware of the styles of Irish whiskey, that it’s not just sort of a tag-on to Scotch, or anything else, that it’s an identifiable category all in itself.” New expressions of Irish whiskey, the biggest rush of them in years, makes for customer curiosity and increased trial.
The article discusses the business and craft of Irish whisky--far too long for me to comment on. But here's one bit I'll throw at you by way of piquing interest.
Bushmills has been experimenting with different wood aging techniques. I’ve been filling my flask lately with a 21 year old Bushmills that was finished in madeira barrels; it’s a popular pass-around at get-togethers. They’ve also done something no other Irish or Scottish whiskey-maker I know has done: they used caramel malt in their 1608 400th anniversary whiskey. Brewers use different malts all the time, but whiskey-makers use just pale malts . . . until now. Look for more innovation going forward from Bushmills.
Lots more, and for anyone with even a passing interest in Irish whiskys, very much worth a read.

1 comment:

  1. Jeff --- our own Stuart Ramsay is doing several tastings of three Cooley distillery whiskies this week, ending with a St. Patrick's Day event at the Harborside with a John Harris and a keg of 11-year-old FS Imperial Stout...what a treat...anyway, details are at