The month of March is as good a time as any to get acquainted with Irish whiskey. Even the most casual of whiskey drinkers can get in the spirit. Irish whiskey has such a wide range of styles to choose from, but you can find out a bit more about each type of whiskey when you do side-by-side comparisons in the same style. Creating your own Irish whiskey flight is a great way to explore the category.
One of the whiskey styles getting a lot of buzz these days is single pot still whiskey. What better way to get acquainted than by having your own Pepsi Challenge, so to speak? Fortunately, we’ve kept up with the latest releases and can offer up some recommendations for your Irish whiskey flight. Some are limited edition releases so act quickly if you’re keen on any of them. Word on the street is that there are many more to come of age. We encourage you to catch ‘em all!
Only in Ireland
The single pot still category is still a bit of a mystery to folks. This is understandable as until very recently, only brands like Redbreast and Green Spot—both made at the New Midleton Distillery in Cork—were available. We’ve gone over this style before, but in case this is your first introduction, we’ve got some facts to share with you.
Single pot still whiskeys can only be produced in Ireland at one distillery. Also, both malted and unmalted barley (sometimes called “green malt”) must be used at a minimum of 30% each. Furthermore, if other grains are used, they can only comprise 5% of the recipe. Traditionally it is distilled three times, although that isn’t required, and it is aged for at least three years. This style was formerly called “pure pot still” or just “pot still whiskey” on old bottlings.
Irish Whiskey Flight: Single Pot Still
Generally speaking, when you’re assembling a flight, you’d go from youngest to oldest. Also, you should consider the proof. The higher the proof, the later in the flight the whiskey should be placed. Other than that, try to have water at hand both to drink and to add to the whiskey after the initial tasting if you prefer. This is your flight so you make your own rules. If you can’t find enough single pot still whiskeys for your flight, consider adding a few blends mentioned at the end. If you do that, add those lighter blends first in the ordering.
-Distilled entirely at the brand’s Dublin-based distillery which opened in 2015.
-It is made from 50% malted barley and 50% unmalted barley.
-Three types of barrels were used for maturation: ex-bourbon, virgin oak and ex-sherry.
-Available in the US as of January 2020. SRP $64.99.
-Contract distilled at an undisclosed distillery, this is the brand’s first single pot still release.
-Matured in ex-bourbon barrels for three years before transferring to virgin Irish oak for an additional year to finish aging. The Irish oak was sustainably harvested in the mountains of Co. Wicklow which surrounds the distillery.
-The bottles are numbered with batch, cask and tree information listed. SRP $54.99.
-Distilled and matured at the Kilbeggan Distillery which was restored in 2010. Double, rather than triple-distilled.
-This bottling features 2.5% oats in its makeup in addition to the malted and unmalted barley.
-Matured in ex-bourbon barrels for 8-9 years.
-Available in the US as of February 2020. SRP $44.99.
-Triple-distilled at the New Midleton Distillery in Cork.
-Matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and European oak ex-sherry made at Jerez de la Frontera.
-Redbreast brand was relaunched in 1991, but the name Redbreast was first associated with a John Jameson & Sons whiskey back in 1912. Avg price ~$60.
-Distilled at New Midleton Distillery in Cork and the third release in the brand’s native Irish oak series.
-Single pot still whiskeys, ranging in age from 13-26 years old, primarily matured in American oak ex-bourbon barrels, were selected.
-Finished in virgin Irish oak hogsheads for two years with wood sourced from Knockrath Forest.
-Available as of January 2020 in Ireland, UK, France, US and China. SRP $350.
Irish Blends Using Single Pot Still
One thing to note is that single pot still can be included in an Irish blend. You can find them in Jameson, Tullamore D.E.W., Writers’ Tears and Powers Gold Label, among many others. But of course, the best thing to do is to taste them. Sounds like another Irish whiskey flight in the making to me.