In the late 19th century, Ireland was the whiskey capital of the world, with hundreds of distilleries and a reputation for producing complex, flavorful whiskeys. Prohibition in the United States—Irish whiskey’s most important market—continued to wreak havoc on the economy, and by the mid-20th century, there were only two distilleries left in operation. It was the last straw for Irish whiskey. Single pot still Irish whiskey, a style exclusive to the Emerald Isle, was on the verge of extinction as a result of the industry’s shrinkage.
As the name indicates, it is brewed in pot stills and must include at least 30% malted barley, and no more than 5% of other cereal grains by law. Single pot still whiskey’s spicy, leathery flavor comes from the unmalted barley, making it one of a kind in the whiskey industry.
Few people outside Ireland were aware of the existence of pot still whiskey during the worst period in Irish whiskey’s history. Micro and artisan distilleries have been cropping up all across the island in the past several decades as a result of this revival. Many of them want to bring Irish whiskey back to prominence as a dynamic and sought-after product, as it was in the days before prohibition. One thing is clear: single pot still is becoming the mainstay of many of these newcomers and the nation’s biggest distillery, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Single pot still Irish whiskey is now more accessible than ever for the first time in more than a century. You need to start with one of these bottles.
Green Spot was the final single pot still whiskey to be produced in 1985, after Redbreast was retired after decades of production. For the Dublin-based merchant Mitchell & Son’s brand, the name was inspired by the hues of paint daubed on barrel heads to indicate their age. At least 10 years old was the usual age for Green Spot. After Yellow (12 years old) and Red (15 years old), the other Spots have reappeared as Irish whiskey has emerged from the shadows. A variety of casks are used in the maturing process of each, from bourbon barrels to sherry barrels to madeira barrels.
Similarly, to Green Spot, Redbreast is a historic brand produced in Midelton Whiskey for a liquor retailer, in this instance W&A Gilbey, whose chairman was an ardent birdwatcher. Redbreast shares this trait with Green Spot. In this case, the “redbreast” refers to the rose colors of this mostly sherry-matured whiskey. Redbreast was discontinued in the 1980s, but it reappeared in 1991 and quickly gained a devoted following among modern whiskey drinkers.
Dublin is a first whiskey distillery in more than a century built. This is a cereal-forward whiskey with a grain profile divided equally between malted and unmalted wheat and a maturation procedure that incorporates virgin wood. Despite the positive response to its first single pot still whiskey, Teeling decided to release a peated single malt whiskey soon after like Mildelton single malt whiskey.
While there have been lulls in production, the Kilbeggan Distillery in County Westmeath has been in operation since 1757, making it Ireland’s oldest distillery. The town’s residents maintained the distillery’s license and upkeep from the 1950s till 2007. As a result, distillation was revived in 2007.
Single pot still whiskey from the Shed Distillery in County Leitrim, which debuted at the end of the year, has already outshined its unaged predecessor. Only three years old, the Drumshanbo single pot still uses Barra oats in its grain bill and is triple-distilled. At 43 percent ABV, the perfect level to bring out the dried fruit, roasted oak, and distinctive spice aromas, it’s been matured in ex-bourbon and sherry barrels.
Powers Three Swallow
Owner Irish Distillers claims the name is a play on words that refers to a tiny flask of whiskey carried by the Power family’s coachmen and the Irish swallow, which the distillery uses as a symbol of its goods’ age, quality, and purity. Powers is triple-distilled from malt and unmalted barley and aged in second and third-fill ex-bourbon barrels to let the distillate to take the lead role. Three Swallow is aged in oloroso sherry barrels after its first maturation period.