Irish whiskey for Father's Day

If you are racking your brains for a Father’s Day present, a bottle of Irish whiskey from Molloys Liquor Stores might fit the bill.

Irish whiskey is now riding the crest of a wave of popularity abroad and at home.  In the mid 19th century there were 88 distilleries in Ireland. A perfect storm of Prohibition, trade embargoes with England combined with Scotch whisky becoming more competitive created a surge of difficult conditions in the last century. By 1970, only two distilleries remained, and the market became dominated by a relatively small number of whiskeys from Irish Distillers. Their Jameson brand has grown over 200% in the last decade internationally – a phenomenal achievement. That rising tide has lifted all boats, and we are witnessing an unprecedented level of investment in distilleries and new whiskey brands.

Molloys Liberties store happens to be right in heart of the traditional whiskey-distilling area in Dublin.  Teeling Distillery, nearby, has just peeled off its scaffolding, revealing a beautiful new brick façade, and is opening this week.  (Check out The Whiskey Business, being shown on TV3 on Monday nights).  Right beside it is The Dublin Whiskey Company (now inviting investors, by the way!). Malone’s Flaming Pig Spiced Irish (not quite a whiskey, but a lovely whiskey liqueur) commemorates the great whiskey fire of 1875, when burning whiskey flowed through the Liberties. And across the river is the beautiful Smithfield Distillery building.

 

Classic Irish whiskey is defined by its smoothness, with honey, flowers and spice flavours.

The style of Irish whiskey is underpinned by its use of malted and unmalted barley, and being triple-distilled for purity and smoothness.  This is the classic pot still Irish whiskey.  Midleton Distillery in Cork creates much of this pot still Irish whiskey, and most commercial whiskey blends, would be a blend of this together with grain whiskey.  Many Irish whiskeys are aged in sherry casks, giving a distinctive sherry-like sweet spice note.

The majority of Irish whiskeys follow this pot-still or blending ‘recipe.’  You can find a small number of pure pot still Irish whiskeys, which would make a super present for a whiskey lover.  These are usually allowed to age for longer, giving smoothness and more complexity of flavours - Redbreast, Power’s John’s Lane (from a street beside our Liberties store where the original distillery was located), Green Spot, Yellow Spot, Dungourney, which are all great examples.

Pot still blends can range from everyday whiskeys (Jameson, Powers, Paddy, Crested Ten, Bushmills, Tullamore Dew) right up to ultra-premium carefully-crafted special blends like Midleton Rare. Head distiller, Barry Crockett, recently retired, is credited with having remarkable foresight to set aside whiskeys with a few to creating rare and special blends in the future.

Single malt whiskeys would be less traditional. These are made from malted barley, and produced within a single distillery.  Malt whiskey tends to be less honeyed, more dry and biscuity.  Bushmill’s 10 year old single malt is a good benchmark.

Another smaller category would be single grain whiskey.  These tend to be lighter, more floral and cereal-like, in style.  Teeling’s and Greenore are both worth a try.

We can feel particularly proud of Irish whiskey at the moment, and any of these recommendations would make great Father’s Day gifts.

Redbreast 12 year old is assertive, strongly-flavoured, very fruity (red fruits), with spices, sherry, oil and a long complex finish.  It’s referred to as “The Christmas cake of Irish whiskey.”

Teeling’s Single Grain Whiskey was awarded ‘World’s Best Grain Whiskey” at the World Whiskey Awards 2014. Strong spice, lush red berries, grapes, and a woody, spicy finish.

Bushmill’s 10 year old Single Malt. From 100% malted barley, and matured in bourbon barrels.  Very broad malty characters, with honey, vanilla, milk chocolate and toasted wood.

Jameson Caskmates is an interesting twist on the current fashion for special finishing – it is oak-aged and seasoned with craft Irish stout casks, giving magnificent flavour and aroma.  Ideal for whiskey-drinking Guinness lovers!

Yellow Spot 12 Year Old is a single pot still Irish whiskey, which has been given a new lease of life in recent years.  It has been matured in three types of casks - American Bourbon, Spanish Sherry butts and Spanish Malaga casks. It’s superbly balanced, complex and lengthy.  Honey and spice are first-up on the palate, with hints of toasted oak, coffee, vanilla and lingering spices on the finish.

Midleton Rare, created by master Distiller, Barry Crockett, has a cult following, with each release being slightly different to the next.  It makes an excellent addition to any whiskey connoisseur's collection.