It’s the day before Tax Day and by now you’re either…
1) Already planning your vacation/shopping spree to spend your tax return money.
2) Still angry crying because you found out you owed this year
3) Just realizing that the filing deadline is tomorrow and frantically looking for receipts, bills, a calculator, an envelope, stamps, aspirin…
No matter which point you find yourself, a wee dram might be just what you need right now. The term “wee dram” signals that I’m referring to whiskey (and OK, maybe that I’m being a wee bit prententious), and this tax year the whiskey I’m pouring is Irish.
For those new to brown spirits, Irish whiskey can be the perfect gateway. Smooth and approachable are the words most often used to describe Irish whiskey. Scotch whisky is made from malted barley that has been dried over a peat-fueled fire. It’s the interaction that occurs when the smoke comes into contact and interacts with the malted barley that gives many Scotch brands their distinctive, smokey flavor.
Wait, is it whiskey or whisky?
If you normally associate whisky with Scotch, now’s a good time to make yourself acquainted with Irish whiskey—note that it’s spelled with an “e.” That’s not just a useless aside, Scotch enthusiasts will practically square up to you for making the mistake of including that “e.” Quick rule of thumb, if the spirit comes from a country whose name contains the letter “e,” the whiskey gets one too. No “e” in the country name, no “e” in the whisky. That means Scotland, Canada, Japan and Taiwan produce whisky, while Ireland The United States of America make whiskey.
OK, so… Irish Whiskey?
When making Irish whiskey, the malt is dried in a closed kiln, so it never comes into contact with smoke, and the temperature is kept low to preserve the more sweet and delicate flavors. And there’s your gateway—simplified and generalized—but Irish whiskey tends to taste a bit sweeter, honeyed and more delicate than its Scottish cousins.
You may be familiar with some of the better-known Irish whiskey brands: Jameson, Bushmills, Tullamore Dew, all are excellent—Bushmills Black Bush and Tullamore Phoenix have places of pride in my drinks cabinet—but it’s worth seeking out some of the smaller labels, such as Redbreast, Green Spot, 2 Gingers, Kilbeggan, and Powers, that the whiskey cognoscenti favor. One brand I’ve been on the lookout for, because I’m dying to try it is Writers Tears—how could I not with a name like that?
Irish Whiskey Gets Crafty
Now, there’s a new Irish whiskey to keep an eye out for at your usual watering holes. Glendalough is out of Ireland’s first craft distillery, and their Double Barrel is newly available in the U.S. Made from a blend of malted barley and corn, Double Barrel is first aged for three and a half years in first-fill American oak bourbon barrels, then transferred to first-fill Spanish sherry casks for an additional six months. This interplay comes together like a great musical composition. The bourbon barrels provide the whiskey with its bass— chocolate and caramel notes— while the sherry casks bring the treble of lighter, fruity and nutty notes. At the midrange—on the palate—is soft and creamy, with a honeyed sweetness. The symphony ends not in a crescendo but with a subtle gingery finish.
Now, doesn’t that sound like the perfect accompaniment to help take the stress out of tax day?