How Irish Whiskey is Made
Irish Whiskey has been around for hundreds of years and has a refined distinct taste. There are three main types of Irish whiskey, grain, malt and pot still. Let’s explore how malt whiskey made.
How is Irish Malt Whiskey made?
The process is complicated but in concise form its as follows for single malt whiskey. Malting barley is grown and when ripe its harvested and taken to a maltings where its subjected to a process that begins a germination process in the grain. This process develops enzymes in the grain. Once complete the malted barley is taken to a distillery where it is mashed. This is a process where the grain is added to water in a mash tun and heated until the enzymes in the grain convert the starch in the grain into sugars. The resulting liquid is called wort.
The next step in the process is called fermentation. Here yeast is added to the wort to convert the sugars in the wort into alcohol in a chemical process which can take a few days. The resulting liquid is called the wash. The wash is then taken and filled into a still. For single malt Irish whiskey three varying sized pot stills are generally used. This extra distillation run (compared to scotch) generally gives Irish malt a smoother taste profile as more of the harsh compounds are stripped out.
Once the distillation process is complete the resulting distillate is then filled into wooden casks. The most popular type of wood is oak. In Irish whiskey, various other liquid will have been aged in the cask prior to the whiskey including bourbon, sherry and port. Our first bottling, The Bird is aged in a mix of ex bourbon and ex sherry casks.
The only thing that remains after all of this is time. The liquid then needs to sit in the cask for a minimum of 3 years. The reality however is that most whiskies are aged for far longer than this. Some are aged for as much as forty years. The liquid absorbs flavour from the wood in the cask so in theory the longer in the cask the more flavour. However this is a balancing act and too much ageing can be overpowering to the final liquid.
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