John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey, for example, is aged in single-use bourbon barrels shipped from Kentucky to give the liquor an extra smooth nip and a light aftertaste. While other types of whiskeys, like Scotch, are distilled twice, Irish whiskeys are triple distilled for the smoothest taste possible.
By triple distilling the whiskey, the liquor possesses a fruitier taste that’s fuller in flavor and sticks with you longer than other types of whiskeys. The distillation process adds to the pungent aftertaste that lingers in your mouth long after the whiskey is gone. “Irish whiskeys are easier to drink than other types of whiskeys,” notes Chris Bachar, who works at Liquor City, 6793 E. Genesee St., DeWitt. “The taste is so smooth that people prefer drinking it on the rocks.”
The preparation of the malt and barley can also affect the taste of an Irish whiskey. The malt used in Jameson Irish Whiskey, for instance, is dried with hot air in an enclosed flame, locking in the harsh taste of the alcohol. This gives Jameson the sharpest finish of all the mainstream Irish whiskey brands.
Another popular Irish whiskey, Bushmills, handles its malt under a closed, controlled fire. To help curb the sharpness of the liquor, Bushmills distillers store their whiskey in rum barrels. Other types of whiskey like American bourbon are sweet and light. Scotch carries a dry, smoky taste due to the malt having been dried over an open flame.
“Bourbon is aged in fresh, one-time-use oak barrels for the best smoky oak flavor,” Bachar says, “where for Irish whiskeys it’s not that important.”
Whiskeys imported from Ireland are exempt from U.S. law that requires barrels to be one-time use. That same law also requires a minimum of three years aging time although whiskey makers tend to age their products well into five or six years and as long as 12 or 13 years.
With many bars and taverns like J Ryan’s Pub, 253 E. Water St., opening at 7 a.m. on Thursday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, it’s conventional to wake up to a cup of Irish coffee. For those who’d rather make it themselves, www.foodnetwork.com suggests a freshly brewed cup of coffee, a tablespoon of brown sugar, a shot of your favorite Irish whiskey, and some heavy cream to do the trick. The dark taste of coffee with the bite of Irish whiskey is sure to wake up the sleepiest Irishmen. The creamer acts as a neutralizer that helps tone down the heavy taste of the coffee-whiskey combination.
For the special occasion, Coleman’s Authentic Irish Pub, 100 S. Lowell Ave., is serving Paddy Old Irish whiskey, which general manager Dennis Coleman says is a rare find in the states. Coleman’s will also be serving other high-end Irish whiskeys like Redbreast and Tullamore Dew for those who enjoy some variety.
Both J Ryans and Coleman’s will be serving traditional Irish foods like potatoes with corned beef and cabbage. For those who dislike the kick of Irish whiskey, both places also tap a variety of beers especially for the holiday, including Guinness, Murphy’s Irish Stout, Sam Adams Irish Red and, never fear, that green beer.
Holiday treats: (pictured above) Coleman’s will be serving hard-to-find Irish whiskeys for St. Patrick’s Day.