Aidan wrote:...this is also the reason that the Irish used much larger pot stills - because there was a tax on the number of spirit passes, rather than the volume of spirits.
I see. But wouldn't this mean that triple distilling would render more tax to be paid? But I suppose that potstill somehow had to be triple-distilled.
Whether it is tripple distilled or double distilled it is just a process for one batch.
Okay a brief history lesson.
In 1661 taxation was brought in for Irish Whiskey. This was calculated by the volume of spirit that each distillery sold. This method was very hard to police as an unscrouplous distillery manager or workers could run an operation at night outside the books so to speak or just ignore the books all together and the higher the tax was increased the more prevelant that bootlegging was practiced.
In 1779 the Government decided to tax the still instead and the idea was that a certian sized still would produce a certian amount of whiskey in a year. So they taxed projected output instead. This of course backfired also as some stills were in use more than others and a distillery with a small seasonal output but used a large still was crucified financially. Basically this lead from 1228 to 246 working distilleries within a period of just one year, of course alot of these operations just went underground to avoid tax which put the legit distilleries under even more pressure. By 1821 there was only 32 distilleries left. However the ones that were left were some of the biggest distilleries in the world. Jameson officially the biggest distillery in the world at the time and the newly opened Midleton in 1825 built the biggest potstill in the world. They dwarfed the biggest still of the time (750 gallons) by building a 31,500 gallon potstill
(and to this day is still the biggest in the world eventhough it is not used to produce any more).
After all these laws failed they brought in the Corn laws of 1804 which were originally used to protect brittish grain farmers from imports but then also used to attack the whiskey tax (or lack of it) problem. This meant they could tax the raw materials before it even got to the distillery and turned into whiskey thus getting the tax. This was the most effective tax for Government but Irish distilleries tried out different formulae to avoid paying the highest prices for the malted barley. This is not to say it was not done previously but the potstill creation came into it's own during the 18th & 19th century and was the creame de la creame of Whiskey world wide. Previously Ireland had all forms of whiskey whether potstill, single malt and both peated and unpeated. The success of Potstill and soft smooth whiskey became know as typically 'Irish' and the big Irish distilleries concentrated on this liquid gold.
The big 4 as they were known were John Jameson, John Powers, George Roe & William Jameson all Dublin based and were the world leaders in Whiskey production by volume and quality. However they looked down their noses at the scotch industry which were now using the Irish invention of the Coffey or patent still. The Irish rejected the coffey still as being a maker of silent whiskey i.e. tasteless whiskey. This was probably the major mistake that basically started the downfall of Irish whiskey. As Irish whiskey was becomming more and more expensive the Scots were producing lakes of silent whiskey to blend with their single malt and there fore they produced a cheaper whisky and after world recessions, prohibition and wars like WWI the cheaper scotch became very popular and the Irish Industry nearly collapsed. So much so that by the 1970's they was only 1 company producing whisky in 2 distilleries
It was only then that the Irish realised that the blend was the way to go and potstill nearly died out all together with Redbreast and Greenspot the only potstills available on a very limited basis eventhough it would always be produced to be used in blends.
And that in a big nut shell is the history of Irish Whiskey (with huge chunks left out of course