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Irish Whisky Essay

1449 words - 6 pages

Josh Sims

Mr. Baldschun

British Literature

March 5, 2009

Irish Whiskey

“It sloeth age, it strengtheneth youth, it helpeth digestion, it cutteth fleume, it abandoneth melancholy, it relisheth the hart, it lighteneth the mind, it quickeneth the spirites...truly it is a souveraigne liquor, if it be orderly taken.” People all over the world associate whiskey with the Irish, though many do so in a stereotypical way. The reality is that Irish whiskey is a large part of Ireland's rich history and culture. The distilling of this whiskey is a scientific and very regulated process that began over eight hundred years ago. The production of Irish whiskey is a historical part of Irish ...view middle of the document...

However, it did not affect the growth of the distilling industry.
In 1781, the UK government decided to ban all private distillation. The Excisemen could then seize any whiskey, equipment, and any form of transportation used to transport the whiskey. While in 1608 licenses were granted for distilling in certain regions, approximately 1, 300 of the 2,000 stills were accused of illegal distillation. By 1885, however, this number had declined to about twenty-eight.
Irish whiskey soon became known as the world’s finest whiskey. Major distilleries were producing up to two million gallons annually of the Irish Whiskey called “Pot Still” and additional 400 brands were being produced. At the time, Ireland was under British rule. Therefor, Ireland became primarily export oriented. They exported tons of pot-distilled whiskey to the British Empire, and quickly outsold the Scottish whiskey that they were in major competition with.
The Scottish most likely learned how to distill from the Irish, however they will never admit to it. It is said that distilling was brought to Scotland by Campelton and Islay long after it began in Ireland. Then in 1870, the Scottish began producing cheaper whiskey by using the Coffey still. At that point in time, whiskey was spelled “whisky”. In response to the poor quality of the new Scottish whiskey, Ireland and the United States adopted the spelling to “whiskey” to distinguish between the two. While there were many similarities between Scottish whiskey and Irish whiskey, there were also many differences.
Scottish whiskey was composed from barley and was distilled either from malted grains or un-malted grains. This process created either “single malt” or “blended whiskey”. Irish whiskey, however, was distilled from a mixture of malted and un-malted grains. This created the term “pot-still whiskey”. While both Irish and Scottish whiskies are distilled three times, peat is not used in the Irish whiskey which differs from the smooth tone of Scotch. It is that column-distilled, smooth grain whiskey component of blended Scotch whiskey that began the twentieth century downturn of Irish distillers.
Many events and the ultimate market change caused the economic change in Irish whiskey. When Aenas Coffey invented the Patent Still, the Scots quickly adapted to the new process by blending their whiskey. Then the Irish Free State was instituted which resulted in the trade war with Great Britain. This caused the Irish Distillers main market to shut down. In 1920, the United States declared National Prohibition, which closed off Irelands largest export market. These factors combined, along with the Great Depression, World War II and the trade embargoes between the Irish Republic and the United Kingdom, caused the closer of many small distilleries. Some larger distilleries were able to close down and then re-open later when the time was right. Unlike the Scots who waited for a Repeal to be enacted, many...

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