Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Well Stocked Bar XIII

Top of the morning to you!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day today's post, the latest in the Well Stocked Bar series is dedicated to Irish Whiskey. Unlike the Scottish, Canadian, and Japanese who spell Whisky without the 'e', the Irish just as the Americans use the 'e' as a way to differentiate their product.

Although akin to Scotch Whisky the differences begin very early with the grains utilized in making their whiskey. Scotch Whisky is distilled principally in that it was distilled primarily from barley while traditional Irish whiskey is distilled from a mash of mixed grains including barley.

Today, most Irish whiskey is blended from a mixture of pot-still whiskey and cheaper grain whiskey produced in a column still (it's also more mild in flavor). Bushmills is the exception in that it produces its whiskey purely through a column still rather than a blending with pot-still spirits. Most Irish whiskey is distilled three times, but so is the Scottish single malt Auchentoshan; thus it is a common myth that triple distillation is the main distinction between the two varieties. To my mind and palette the principal difference between the typical spirits of Scotland and Ireland is that peat is almost never used in the malting process in Ireland while it's used in the majority of malts in Scotland imparting the smoky, earthy overtones loved by many, but not all whisk(e)y drinkers. I like to think of Scottish Whisky as the beverage of fall and winter while the lighter whiskies from Ireland are better suited to spring and summer.

Though Ireland produces and exports whiskey on a grand scale it's done through only three distilleries compared to Scotland's more than 80 (though many of these are owned by conglomerates). The Big Three Irish distillers are: New Midleton Distillery (Jamesons, Powers, Paddy, Midleton, Redbreast, and Green Spot), Old Bushmills Distillery (Old Bushmills, Black Bush, 1608, and Bushmills 10, 12, 16, 21 year-old single malts), and Cooley Distillery (Connemara, Knappogue, Michael Collins, and Tyrconnell). Of the three only Cooley's is completely Irish-owned. New Midleton distillery is part of the French beverage giant Pernod-Ricard while Bushmills is owned by rival giant Diageo.

In celebration of all things Irish (in a single pint glass) here's a recipe for an Irish Car Bomb:

3/4 pint of Guiness stout
1/2 shot of Bailey's Irish cream
1/2 shot of Jameson Irish whiskey (substitute as you like)

Add the Bailey's and Jameson to a shot glass, layering the Bailey's on the bottom. Pour the Guinness into a pint glass 3/4 of the way full and let settle. Drop the shot glass into the Guinness and drink immediately with great speed, exercising caution not to damage your teeth with a sliding shot glass; if you choose to sip the mixture it will curdle and lose whatever pleasantness it had during the first moments after its creation. While I've never fell victim to this beverage I have seen many who have, limit yourself to one then return to your whiskey or beer.


Pigtown-Design said...

The Irish bar in my old (and irish) neighbourhood won't let people order Car Bombs. they think that it's offensive.

Athenaeus said...

PD - I debated publishing the drink due to the possible controversy but opted to go ahead as it's one of the more famous Irish "themed" drinks. Perhaps I should have stuck with Irish Coffee.