Irish Whiskey: The Water Of Life

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One of our favourite days of the year, St. Patrick’s Day, is quickly approaching.

For one day a year, we put away the “kelly green” that this province loves for any shade of green we can get our hands on.

When it comes to St. Paddy’s Day, we all know the all-time favourites: Guinness, Jameson, Bushmills. All quality drinks that come from the Emerald Island but the options to celebrate one of the Western world’s oldest countries are getting better all of the time.

That’s especially true in the world of whiskey where Irish whiskey has been experiencing a revival over the last decade or so. There was a time when whiskey distilled in Ireland, specifically Dublin, dominated the world. Over 120 years ago, Ireland boasted some 30 different distillers but over time that number dwindled to just three. The smoky flavours of Scotland and the sweeter flavours of American bourbon had taken over the world. 

Since the turn of the century, that trend has slowly been reversing as Ireland’s whiskey business is starting to boom again, as Irish Whiskey has actually been one of the world's fastest-growing spirits. There are currently 18 distilleries operating in Ireland as of last summer with just about as many planning to open in the near future. At the moment, only six have actually been open long enough to sell their whisky as, similar to Canada, Irish whisky must age for at least three years to be considered whiskey. 

As whiskey recovers in Ireland, we’re starting to reap the benefits here in Canada as more bottles start to make their way across the Atlantic to our shelves. At Happy Hour, we got our hands on a couple of bottles that represent the new wave of Irish Whiskey. 

Teeling Whiskey’s history dates back to the old days of Irish whiskey. The Teeling family were whiskey masters as far back as 1798. It wasn’t until 2012 that the current generation re-opened the family business with its current name not too far from their original distillery in Dublin. It was the first new distillery in Dublin in 125 years. After aging their whiskey for the required three years, Teeling was finally able to open their doors in 2015 offering up a new twist on the classic. 

They are most famously known for their “small batch” whiskey, which you can find at Happy Hour, that is aged in rum barrels sourced from Central America. By aging in rum barrels, it adds a little extra sweetness and smooths out the whiskey. 

About an hour south of Dublin lies the Glendalough Distillery. Glendalough was opened by five friends who wanted to help bring the Irish whiskey industry back to life. Glendalough gets their name and logo from 518 A.D. with the story of St. Kevin who lived in and protected the Glendalough area. Everything they produce ties into his story in one way or the other. They have a really cool video on it here

At Happy Hour, we carry their double barrel whiskey that’s been aged in bourbon oak barrels giving it a sweeter taste with hints of toasted vanilla before being moved to Sherry barrels to add hints of dark, dried fruits, and a slight nutty flavour. 

There’s certainly no wrong way celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but if you’re looking for something new the time has never been better.