Whiskey – the Irish liquid

Yup, not many know that the exquisite spirit of whiskey was actually something that originated in Ireland. But the Irish are used to being screwed, so Scotland’s whiskey is now more well-known around the world.

Initially distillation was used by boring early humans to make perfumes, but they soon graduated to produce better stuff, thanks to ancient Celts whose monks brought the tech back to Ireland to produce uisgebeatha (water of life).

Not a bird..

Not a bird..

The first Irish record of drinking waay too much whiskey is that of a chieftain in 1405 “taking a surfeit of aqua vitae” at Christmas. Yea, understandable. He OD-ed and died.

Till today, it’s the first written record of the existence of whiskey. Haha. Solid.

Anyway Kieran Crowe is a very-much alive Irishman who’s the brand ambassador of Jameson Irish Whiskey whom i met recently for a chat.

The Irish

The Irish

So what’s different about Irisch (i just made that up) vs say, Scotch? ”Well Scotch tends to be smokier. Irish whiskies are typically triple-distilled, makes it a little smoother. Also when we malt our barley, we don’t use peat to smoke ’em; we use heated air. That would be the main difference,” he says.

Cieran pretending to make a cocktail

Kieran pretending to make a cocktail

Irisch was bigger than Scotch for a very long time in fact. But a series of unfortunate events saw Scotch take over the number one position. “But over the last 25 years, Irish whiskey has gotten bigger and bigger, lead by Jameson.”

The unfortunate events include the Irish War of Independence and subsequent trade war with Britain which denied it access to Commonwealth markets.

Kieran says the worldwide revival began in a Brooklyn dive bar called Bushwick Country Club (not a country club), with affordable drinks and friendly staff. The bartenders there invented a shooter called the Pickleback. A shot of Jameson is chased by a shot of pickle brine. Gotta try it.

Owner John fixing a Pickleback

Owner John fixing a Pickleback

US is the largest market for Jameson, which takes half of their 5 million annual cases. Interestingly, 12 more distilleries are opening in Ireland over the next five years.

The second best-selling Irisch in the world is Bushmills, followed by Tullamore Dew. “Keep an eye out for Red Breast.” is his tip.

That's the delicious Scarlette O'Jameson, a cocktail with raspberries available at Locker & Loft

That’s the delicious Scarlette O’Jameson, a cocktail with among others raspberries, available at Locker & Loft only

How do the Irish drink Irisch? “Over rocks, with a little water. The younger ones drink it with ginger ale and lime.”  Ale & lime? That’s how i usually take rum!

I kinda enjoy Jameson Original. A good whiskey to be taken on it’s own, at anytime, and versatile in cocktails as well. It’s matured in a combo of ex-Bourbon barrels as well as Sherry casks.

Kieran leads a toast after the tasting session

Kieran leads a toast after the tasting session

Kieran also took a bunch of folk thru a whisky tasting, which went down at restaurant & cocktail bar Locker & Loft. Followed by shots of Jameson, like true Irish.

He however messed up big time and said ”Cheers”, but soon corrected himself – “Sláinte!!”


Brain damage: 7.5 / 10

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