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Issue 117 - Beyond the Pickleback

Whisky Magazine Issue 117
February 2014


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Beyond the Pickleback

Our chap behind the stick looks at the Irish category

Given the heritage to Irish whiskey, it would seem likely there would be a wealth of cocktails that followed alongside. However, there are few cocktails that Irish whiskey can claim as its own. Many that specifically call for Irish whiskey in the mix are simple variations on other Whisky cocktails that are merely using the spirit generically and substituting it (and often giving it a clichéd name), without any regard for the differences of the spirits. That said, it is a very different drink making a Manhattan with a Irish whiskey rather than an American or a Bourbon. It could be argued (and I don't wish to get into politics) that Irish whiskey was the forebear of barley spirits but there is no doubting that at one point it was certainly the whiskey of choice in the UK. It quickly fell from this position though, and it has been battling hard to regain a foothold. It has only been through a tremendous amount of hard work that it has found new support in bartenders and new whiskey drinking consumers. One of the interesting aspects for me is the change that occurred in the late 18th century that spurred the use of unmalted barley in the mix. A minor difference on the surface, but one that creates a whole path of difference from its whisk(e)y brethren. Irish whiskey still employs the range of variables as Scotch (and other countries) in that it uses several different casks - including different sizes, origins and finishes - and also different stills, different configurations,...

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