SPIR­ITS

TAST­ING THE IR­ISH

Food & Drink - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By James Chatto

Our ex­pert panel points you in the right di­rec­tion this St. Patrick’s Day for ideal Ir­ish whiskies to have on hand.

the first time I went to Ire­land to look into its whiskeys, back in the 1990s, there were only two dis­til­leries left—Bush­mills in the north and Mi­dle­ton in the south. The most fa­mous whiskeys, in­clud­ing Jame­son, Pow­ers and Paddy, were all made at Mi­dle­ton by master dis­tiller Barry Crock­ett, who pre­served their dis­tinc­tive iden­ti­ties by blend­ing dif­fer­ent pro­por­tions of pot-still and con­tin­u­ous-still spir­its and by ju­di­cious bar­relage­ing. I learned to love Ir­ish whiskeys on that trip, but I feared for their fu­ture…

Twenty years later, how things have changed! A great surge of en­thu­si­asm and de­ter­mi­na­tion has re­vived the in­dus­try. De­funct dis­til­leries have re­opened and new ones have been built (there were 16 in op­er­a­tion the last time I counted). Ex­tinct styles of whiskey have been re­vived and ex­per­i­ments with dif­fer­ent kinds of bar­rels are go­ing on ev­ery­where. Th­ese new spir­its come and go through the LCBO’s Whisky Shop (lcbo.com/whiskyshop) and are well worth check­ing out. Mean­while, the more es­tab­lished brands are flour­ish­ing and have also been busy with in­no­va­tions of their own. So I con­vened a tast­ing of three other whiskey en­thu­si­asts—con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor Charlene Rooke from

Food & Drink, LCBO Prod­uct Con­sul­tant Sean Ormsby, and star mixol­o­gist Shane Mul­vany. Our ver­dict was unan­i­mous. All things con­sid­ered, there has never been a more in­ter­est­ing time to ex­plore Ir­ish whiskey.

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