Republic of Ireland

Once a power-house of whiskey distilling, the Irish distillers' refusal to assist American bootleggers during the prohibition period became a contributing factor to the industry's decline.

For a period of time, 1966 to 1988, the behemoth of Irish Distillers had a strangle-hold on all Irish whiskey. Then in 1987, Cooley founder John Teeling bought the distillery from the Irish Government with the idea of selling it later as a going concern replete with whiskey-filled warehouses. But in a climate of industry belt-tightening, Teeling eventually had to mothball the distillery.

However, after an offer by Pernod Ricard was blocked by Ireland's Competition Authority, Teeling managed to convince his backers to fire up the stills again—and in 1995, that's what he did. His approach to the category has led to some fascinating whiskies being made, including Greenore, Locke's and Tyrconnell and a phenomenal growth in interest in Irish whiskey across the globe.

Ireland gave us one of the significant developments in distilling: the column or 'Coffey' still. This was perfected by Aeneas Coffey in the early 1800s and patented in 1831, completely changing the face of distilling as it allowed producers to make whiskey cheaply and quickly without sacrificing quality.

That being said, the connoisseur will often head for the pure pot-still whiskey of brands such as Redbreast and Green Spot. Pot-still whiskey is distilled from a mixture of malted and unmalted barley, and the resulting liquid has a certain viscosity to it.

Apart from the Connemara brand, you generally do not find peat in Irish whiskey. This is because distilling became big business in Ireland early on, long before peat cutting was mechanised—coal and wood were used to meet the demand for fuel. Furthermore, the powerhouse distillers were urban and had access to coal.
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