By Charles MacLean

From the Editor

From the outset it was the intention of Whisky Magazine to embrace whiskies and whiskeys other than Scotch, and this issue sets the ball rolling with pieces by Tim Atkin, Giles Macdonagh and myself about Irish whiskey, tastings of Irish by Jim Murray and Michael Jackson, and useful comment by others about this fascinating drink.During the mid-19th century, Ireland was the greatest distilling country in the world. Even in the late 1880s Alfred Barnard, the indefatigable Victorian traveller who visited all the distilleries in the United Kingdom, reported on 28 such establishments in Ireland, among them the largest distilleries of their day. Yet by 1960 only four were left, and in 1966 three of these merged into a single company, Irish Distillers. They were
joined by the fourth, Bushmills, in 1978, creating a monopoly which was only broken by the foundation of Cooley Distillery in 1986.
These two companies operate only three distilleries – Midleton in County Cork, Bushmills in County Antrim and Cooley in County Louth – yet between them these three produce over 60 brands and expressions of Irish whiskey. How can this be? Read on.Although Irish is the focus of this issue of Whisky Magazine, we have not neglected Scotch. Neil Wilson explores the little-known Loch Lomond Distillery, which follows the Irish practice of having pot stills and column stills under the same roof. It is unique in this, although the practice was more common in Scotland during the 1960s – Strathclyde, Girvan and Moffat Distilleries all produced pot-still malt whiskies alongside column-still grain spirits.How can you produce different styles of whisky, or whiskey, from the same stills? What contribution to flavour do the raw materials make, or the casks in which the spirit matures? In the first of three pieces, Alan Rutherford lucidly and rationally explores the contribution made to flavour by the simple ingredients from which malt whisky is made, while Andrew Jefford looks at the changes which occur during maturation.Subtle variations in flavour, aroma and texture – arising from how the spirit is made and matured – are quintessential concerns in whisky making. Just where these subtle variations in flavour come from – or, at least, the relative influence upon flavour brought to bear by the numerous variables within the whisky-making process – is still obscure, and much disputed.
Meanwhile, as they say in Ireland, fad saol agat - long life to you.