WHAT MAKES IRISH WHISKEY DIFFERENT
There are several distinct styles of whiskey in the world—American (rye and bourbon), Irish, Canadian and Scotch.
While all are produced in a broadly similar way, there are substantial differences in the final product that are based on the choice of grains, the type of still, the number of distillations, the maturation period and the type of oak barrels in which the whiskey is matured.
The end result is that each country’s whiskey has its own distinctive characteristics.
Irish whiskey is smooth and clean-tasting, a result of triple distillation. It’s the only triple-distilled whiskey in the world. Here’s the scoop.
Whiskey vs. whisky.
The word comes from the the Gaelic uisce, pronounced ISH-ka, and the Scottish uisge, pronounced USH-ka. They became isky and usky and then evolved to the modern English whisky.
Canadians spell “whisky” without the “e,” as do the Scots and most other countries except Ireland and the U.S.
Scholars can’t determine why the “e” was dropped by the Scots many centuries ago. One theory is that the Irish made whiskey first and pronounced it with a broad “e.” When the Scots began to make it, they dropped the “e” to differentiate their product.
A 1968 directive of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms specifies “whisky” as the official U.S. spelling, but allows the alternative spelling, “whiskey,” which most U.S. producers prefer.
Check out the language of whiskey in our Whiskey Glossary.
Alcohol distillation was discovered in the late eighth century by an Arab scholar, Abu Masa Jabir ibn Hayyam, “the father of modern chemistry.” Among other discoveries were acetic acid, citric acid, tartaric acid, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid and aqua regia, one of the few substances that can dissolve gold, and crystalization.
Jabir invented many types of now-basic chemical laboratory equipment. One was the alembic still, the al-ambiq.
When Jabir distilled wine, he created the world’s first distilled alcohol, and discovered a liquid that had benefits as medicine.
Since this equipment was often used to boil powdered antimony into a liquid called al-kohl (used to make the cosmetic kohl), the liquid became known as alcohol and the al-ambiq became the modern alembic still.