Happy Irish Whiskey Day! Are you a fan? We gotta admit, our first forays into the wonderful world of whiskey were with bourbons, and we were a little snooty about Irish whiskey because we didn’t think it was as flavorful. We have since seen the light, and as our palates have gotten better, have tasted the light as well.
Most traditional Irish whiskies are triple distilled, meaning that each batch has been run through the still three times (although triple distillation is not a legal requirement for Irish whiskies). This leads to the ubiquitous label of “smooth” – that some folks describe Irish whiskey as being “smoother” than other whiskies. What does that mean? Nothing, really! It’s a general term that casual drinkers like to throw around about the liquid being more palatable than others, or maybe having less “burn.” In reality, that third run through the still purifies the final spirit a bit more, resulting in flavors and aromas that are lighter, more delicate, and tending to be fruity and grainy in taste. We always say that different whiskey styles shouldn’t be judged against each other as better or worse; they are simply different styles, allowing imbibers to enjoy a wide range of flavors that dance on their palates!
The first references in writing of Irish whiskey dates back to the 1400s – possibly making it the oldest European distilled spirit. It became immensely popular – so much so, that by the end of the 1700s, there were probably 2,000 distilleries in the country. However, due to a multitude of factors (which is another discussion for another time), by 1980, there were only two companies left. This led to our modern notions that all Irish whiskies taste a certain way. Luckily for us, in the past decade, Irish whiskey production has exploded! Currently, there are close to 40 operational distilleries in the country, with another ten or so in planning or under construction. What a time to be alive! These distilleries are pushing the boundaries of the category, producing exciting new whiskies with different production styles, barrel finishes, and flavors. So, if you’re looking to dip your toe into the Irish whiskey pond, there are so many delicious bottles to choose from – go nuts!
Of course, we can’t leave you without a cocktail to make with your Irish whiskey, so we’re offering up the Irish Black Thorn. A simple cocktail that marries the delicate flavors of whiskey with the herbal notes of vermouth, bitters, and a hint of absinthe. Sláinte!
Irish Black Thorn
2 oz. blended Irish whiskey
1 oz. dry vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Absinthe, for rinse
Add a splash of absinthe into a coupe glass and swirl until the inside of the glass is fully coated. Discard any excess and set glass aside in the fridge to chill as you prepare the cocktail.
Add whiskey, vermouth, and bitters into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into the prepared glass. Sip & enjoy!