Most experts agree that Irish whisky was developed before Scotch whisky. It is believed to have been developed in the 1400's. Irish whisky is made from a fermented mash of malted and unmalted barley, corn, rye, and lesser amounts of other cereal grains.
Scotch whisky malt is dried in ovens over an open peat fire. As a result, it has a smoky flavor. Irish whisky malt is dried in closed kilns (or ovens). As a result, it does not have the smoky flavor like Scotch.
All Irish whisky is distilled three times in copper pot stills. Most Irish whiskies are aged between three and nine years. It is aged in oak barrels that have previously been used to age sherry, brandy, bourbon, or rum.
Irish whisky is a steadily growing category. However, it remains the smallest distilled spirit category in the United States. It accounts for less than 1% of all distilled spirit sales.
In 1608, King James I granted Sir Thomas Phillips the world's first licensed distillery. It is still operational and is called Old Bushmills.
Irish coffee is one of the most popular drinks incorporating Irish whisky. It consists of:
- brown sugar
- 1.5 ounces of Irish whisky
- a topping of whipped cream
Irish cream liqueurs are a very popular subcategory of Irish whisky products. Bailey's Irish Crème was first in this group. It was developed in 1979.