Whiskey cocktail

Need the ultimate introduction to Irish whiskey? Start here.

Just released, and in time for International Irish Whiskey Day (March 3) and St. Patrick’s Day (March 17),PADDY DRINKS: the world of modern Irish whiskey cocktails is the latest book from the pros (Jillian Vose, Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, plus writer Conor Kelly and photographer Shannon Sturgis) behind The Dead Rabbit, New York’s exemplary and often award-winning Irish whiskey pub of the “World’s Best Bar” award.

While the book mainly focuses on cocktails – and around 90 recipes – Paddy spends a lot of time helping the reader understand Irish whiskey, which includes an illustrated guide to the production steps of distillation, flavor wheels, tasting notes and, especially interesting for those new to drinks, a guide to the different types of Irish whiskey.

Jack McGarry, Jillian Vose and Sean Muldoon from The Dead Rabbit

Shannon Sturgis

Below is an excerpt from Rice drinks, reprinted with permission, which gives a good summary of the different styles of Irish whiskey, together with key bottlings of each style; if you’re new to the spirit, it’s proof that the category is just as varied and exciting as its American and Scottish counterparts. Additionally, we’ve included a cocktail recipe from the book, for the Tipperary, a classic cocktail dating back to 1917 that’s fairly easy to create at home and features, as the authors note, a “rich, balanced [and] familiar character.

(Note: If you’re around on March 12 in New York, the New York Irish Whiskey Festival, produced in partnership with Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon of The Dead Rabbit, is a great place to check out your Irish brews.)

In Ireland, we distill three distinct styles of whiskey: pot still, malt and grain. A fourth style, mixed, presents a combination of two or more of the other three. Producing each of the three styles is different, and for a distillery to make all three would involve a vast investment of money, time, equipment and expertise. Therefore, large distilleries often sell distillate to each other so that they do not have to make every component themselves. For example, Midleton produces both pot still and grain whiskey, and will sell unaged grain distillate to Bushmills for use in its blends. Bushmills produces malt whisky, but not grain or still whisky, and will supply MIdleton with malt distillate to use in its own blends. etc It is also true that more and more brands are opening their own distilleries and producing their own new-make spirits. As with everything in whisky, it’s a matter of time.

Single grain whiskey

Unlike pot stills and malts, grain whiskey is distilled using a column still. This produces a lighter and cleaner spirit in the body, almost delicate; sweeter in taste and more floral on the nose. It is most often distilled from a maize (maize) base, with some malted barley added, although this is not a requirement. Other cereals such as wheat or oats can also be used. A single grain Irish whiskey is just the grain component distilled and matured by itself. Midleton and Cooley currently account for most of the grain whiskey made in Ireland.

Main traffic jams: Kilbeggan Single Grain, Teeling Single Grain, The Busker, Clonakilty Bordeaux Cask, Egan’s Vintage Grain, Glendalough Double Barrel, Ballyhoo

Paddy Drinks book cover;  irish single malt styles

The cover of the book “Paddy Drinks” (left) and different styles of Irish single malts

Courtesy of HarperCollins; Shannon Sturgis

Single malt whiskey

Malt whiskey must be produced from 100% malted barley. Like pot still, it is distilled two or three times in copper pot stills. To qualify as a single malt, whiskey must be made only in a distillery. Currently the Bushmills and Cooley distilleries produce the largest volumes of single malt in Ireland. They also supply malt whiskey to other distilleries for use in blends. Irish single malts generally have a smooth, creamy texture and a “bread” or “biscuit” flavor profile.

Main traffic jams: Bushmills Single Malt Expressions, Knappogue Castle Single Malt Expressions, Connemara 12 Single Malt, Teeling Single Malt, West Cork Expressions, Tyrconnell Expressions, The Sexton, Egan Expressions

Single Pot Still Whiskey

This style, unique to Ireland, is made from a blend of malted and unmalted barley, which gives the still its characteristic full, spicy, round flavor and creamy texture. In addition to barley, the mash may contain up to 5% of other cereal grains, such as rye or oats. The mash is fermented and then distilled two or three times in copper stills.

Main traffic jams: Robin Expressions; Powers John’s Lane and Powers Three Swallow; The Legacy of Midleton Barry Crockett; the Spot series (Green Spot, Yellow Spot and Red Spot), Blue Spot, Drumshanbo, Teeling, The Busker

blended whiskey

A blended Irish whiskey is by definition not inferior to a single grain, single malt or pot still whisky. The success of the blend depends on the quality of the constituent whiskeys and the skill of the blender. Blends are often light and approachable when grain whiskey is included in the mix, while adding a pot still of malt whiskey will provide body and complexity. Blended whiskeys – such as Jameson Original – can be a wonderful gateway into the world of Irish whiskey, where a single pot still or single malt whiskey may be too rich or intense.

Main traffic jams: (Still & Grain) Expressions Jameson, Powers Gold Label, Clontarf, Kilbeggan (Malt & Grain) Bushmills Black Bush, Teeling Small Batch, Writers’ Tears Copper Pot, Dead Rabbit, Dubliner Bourbon Bask, Slane, Roe & Co, Pearse Lyons’ The Original’, Clonakilty Port Cask, Hinch Small Batch (still and malt) The Irishman Founder’s Reserve; Writers Tears (still, malt and grain) Tullamore DEW blends, Paddy, The Busker ‘Triple Cask Triple Smooth’, Pearse Lyons 5 and 7 year olds, Dead Rabbit, The Dubliner expressions, Clonakilty expressions, Connacht expressions, Hinch expressions, Slane , Kilbeggan, Roe & Co, Teeling Blackpitts

The Tipperary cocktail from The Dead Rabbit

The Tipperary cocktail from The Dead Rabbit

Shannon Sturgis

Adapted by Jack McGarry and Jillian Vose

The first appearance of this cocktail in the press dates back to 1917 in Mixed Drink Recipes by Hugo R. Ensslin. It is said to be named after a guest who walked in asking for a drink while humming “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”, a hymn for Irish soldiers who were homesick during the First World War. Further credit is given to Harry Craddock, who included it in his 1930 classic The book of Savoyard cocktails.

  • 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 3 dashes of orange bitters
  • 3 dashes of Old Pontarlier absinthe
  • 0.5 oz green Chartreuse
  • 1.5 oz homemade sweet vermouth
  • 1.5 oz Powers Three Swallow Irish Whiskey

Add ingredients to a mixing glass in the order listed and stir with ice. Pour into a cocktail glass without ice cubes. Garnish with a drizzle of orange oil and discard the zest.