The word “whiskey” comes from the Gaelic phrase “uisce beatha” (sounds like “ish-ke ba-haa”), translated literally as “water of life.”
And while Europeans began distilling spirits in the 12th century, the Irish were centuries ahead. As early as the 6th century, Middle Eastern missionary monks introduced distillation to the Irish. The monks used the spirits as the base for medicines they used to treat those they ministered to in Ireland.
The Irish became quite proficient at distilling whiskey and eventually shared their skills with their neighbors in Scotland. Because both countries used the same basic methods to produce their product, it makes sense that whiskeys from both countries are very similar.
By the 16th century, Irish whiskey had graduated from medicine produced by monks to the exclusive drink of choice for the elite European crowd. Queen Elizabeth I and Peter the Great, Czar of Russia, were among two of the many members of the privileged set who thoroughly enjoyed the Irish spirit. By the Tudor period, however, Irish whiskey was being enjoyed by everyone. Its popularity has never waned.
In order to be a true Irish whiskey, there are certain criteria that must be met. True Irish whiskey must:
- Be distilled in Ireland
- Be distilled from a yeast fermented mash of cereal grains with an ABV (alcohol by volume) of less than 94.8 percent
- Be aged for at least three years in wooden casks
If a product is comprised of two or more distillates, the result is considered a “blended” Irish whiskey.
An example of a blended Irish whiskey is Tullamore Dew. Next to Jameson, it is the second best-selling Irish whiskey in the world. Tullamore was first distilled in 1829 in the town of Tullamore, County Offaly, Ireland. The word “Dew” comes from the initials of one of the first distillery managers, Daniel E. Williams.
Enjoy Tullamore Dew in a Dubliner. Sláinte!
- 1 ½ oz. Tullamore Dew
- ¾ oz. Grand Marnier
- ½ oz. dry vermouth
- dash of orange bitters
Put ingredients in ice-filled shaker. Shake. Shake. Shake. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy.