You may hear the word "whiskey" and think Scotland, but you'd be forgetting what many consider be the birthplace of whiskey: Ireland. And if you hear the word "Irish whiskey," you may automatically think "Jameson." And while we certainly won't turn down a Jameson shot with our craft beers, we think there are many more Irish whiskies to be explored this month.
The word “whiskey” originates from the ancient Gaelic term “uisce beatha” (pronounced ISH-keh BA-ha”), meaning “water of life”. The Emerald Isle has become synonymous with whiskey for many reasons, including its role as home to the oldest licensed distillery in the world. While many distilleries faced huge challenges from high taxes and the Total Abstinence Movement during the 19th century, the whiskey world of Ireland soon bounced back. In the early 1900s, the finest whiskey in Ireland was often sold in casks rather than in bottles, as it is today. Spirits merchants bought the casks, aged them and bottled the whiskey under their own brand names. Fast-forward to the 21st century, where Irish whiskey has been designated as the fastest growing spirit in 2011 and 2012. No wonder everyone's drinking it, whether on its own or in a cocktail (like the ever-popular Irish Coffee).
Today, Irish whiskey doesn't look much different than its Scottish companions. You have your single malts and your blended whiskies, but what makes Irish whiskies unique are the pot stills. Thanks to unmalted barley in the mixture, a pure pot still whiskey (like Redbreast) is one that's extra spicy. However, there are some very easy sipping Irish whiskies, like the Greenore single grain Irish whiskey. Click ahead to find our Irish whiskey picks for March and St. Patrick's Day — or really, any time of the year.