Why is everyone talking about Irish Whiskey anyway?

Nov 22, 2023 | Views

Two bottles of rare midleton Irish Whiskey and a tuath glass.

Why is everyone talking about Irish Whiskey anyway?

It’s been bubbling away in our collective consciousness, in our gut, and in our heritage for a long time now, the Uisce Beatha, a raw material of the quintessential Irishness that permeates our core.

It’s whiskey, more Irish than Ireland- and now the whole world knows about it…..

Look, we all knew the Jimmys, the Paddy’s and Johns that took their Guinness with a ‘half one’, usually a Jemmie or Powers-the chaser that spiced the gentle velvet of the stout, the whiskey that drew back the lips and sucked the air into you.

We might even have thought it was an ‘aul lads drink, or mad Mary ordered it when she was in for a swiftie after the bingo. It had that old Ireland nostalgia to it, the times of dinner dances, smoke-filled pubs, and bottles of Guinness.

Well, it looks like the Jimmies, Paddies and Mary’s had a lot more forward-thinking taste than we had given the craturs credit for….

The whiskey renaissance has well and truly descended, not just in our fair Isle but worldwide which has spun our growth rate into the cosmos. From a mere two distilleries in the 1970s to over forty

distilleries in operation today, the expansion and maturation of the Irish Whiskey Industry has been a phenomenon to behold.

So how has it happened? What changed?

Consensus is …many factors, a gradual sea change and not any one monumental leap or disruption.

Is it the affluence of today’s world? Good whiskey and the brown spirits are no longer restrained to the quaffing aristocracy, most of us are able to imbibe the pleasures of whiskey and are developing a more discerning palate and a healthy curiosity, gone are the days of raw Poitin for the great unwashed.

We are more aware of the origin of our food and therefore our drinks, the processes involved are more transparent and indeed lauded, each careful distilling, the chosen casks, the maturation processes. We love to hear about how each head distiller has blended, weaved their magic, and swirled their own personality into their creations.

Make way celebrity chefs for the master distillers are the new rockstars in town !

It wouldn’t surprise any of us here at Irish Whiskey Auctions to see some dedicated whiskey TV channels or reality shows, the podcasts are already ramping up.

The health aspect? Calorific beers, ales, and ciders are out and whiskey at 123 calories per 30ml is well and truly in-it’s the diet alcohol of our times. Zero fat, carbs, sugar, fibre and protein plus contains Phosphorus, Vitamin B1, Zinc, Iron, AND niacin (Vitamin B3)- who knew?!

You whiskey purists may just have to stop reading here and leave the room for a few moments…..

Ok shock horror- yes there are non-alcoholic versions of whiskey, I know I know, blasphemy and all that- but the non-alcoholic market is taking every big hitter on nowadays, they didn’t just stop at beer. Most appear in the guise of cocktails with various secret ingredients like capsaicin (from chili) and others that give a mouth-numbing effect like Sichuan peppers. Be prepared to see whiskey sours, juleps, and manhattans coming in an ‘abstemious’ version.

Historically it was taxes that hit whiskey production, much like Scotland in 1644, Ireland had its taxes increased in the latter half of the eighteenth century, culminating in the 1785 Malt Tax which detrimentally affected our whiskey production, however, this led to the take up of pot still whiskey, cutting down on malted grains making it cheaper for the distilleries and was the beginning of the birth of Irish pot still whiskey, which earned it a European GI. (geographical indication) in 2014 and protected status.

So thank the lord for the tax-dodging whiskey forefathers, a phoenix truly rose from the ashes.

In future blogs, we’ll discuss various aspects of the burgeoning whiskey industry in more depth, but for now, rest assured the wonderful world of whiskey has a lot to be explored, and we at Irish Whiskey Auctions are more than willing to do it.

Sinead Gormley, Enthusiastic whiskey explorer…