By Tony Bell
In honor of St. Patrick's Day, specifically Forest Park's annual Parade, I wanted to take the briefest look at IrishWhiskey (and, yes, it is spelled with the "e"), which is one of several kinds produced around the world. We'll look at the other varieties in the next installment.
Irish whiskey differs from some of the others in that it is made with primarily barley, both malted and unmalted. The process of malting is done in closed kilns, and peat is not used, as it is in scotch. It is then triple distilled in copper pot stills, which gives the whiskey a softer palate that still retains all of its complexity. Irish whiskey must be aged in seasoned oak casks for at least 4 years. When bottled, it is reduced with soft Irish water to a minimum of 80 proof.
Irish whiskey began in the Dark Ages (500-1000 A.D.), when Ireland became a refuge for monks fleeing overrunning barbarian tribes. Legend has it that the monks carried with them the alembic still, and experimented with barley soaked in water, then heated in the still, and separated out to create the liquid "uisge beatha", which is Gaelic for "water of life". That became the Irish whiskey of today. Jameson remains the most popular brand in our country, but Bushmills, Tullamore Due and Murphy's have their fans.
Enjoy the Parade this weekend, and be safe in your imbibing. Until next time, cheers!