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Spirits Articles

The Rise of Celtic Whisk(e)y

Posted: June 12, 2014

By Terry Sullivan, Very Special to Tastings

The 21th Century has been kind to lovers of Irish and Scotch whiskies. Like the re-emergence of single malt Scotch and small-batch Bourbons, there has been a renaissance in Irish distilling, including a return to pot-still whiskies and single malts, and a variety of exotic cask finishes, although the definitions of whiskey types are a touch looser than in Scotland--like so many other things, particularly late at night. The rebirth continues, with nine or ten distilleries working from north to south in Ireland today, and more planned, with new expressions coming onto the market all the time. The tradition of triple distilling continues, and today’s Irish whiskies are still notable for their smooth character.

In Scotland, single malts—malt whisky from a single Scottish distillery, blended only with other whiskies from the same source—has eaten into the dominance of blends to some extent, although world-wide blends still represent the predominance of all malt whisky sold. To further confuse you, there is a category now called “Blended Malt.” This is a whisky made from a blend of single malts from two or more distilleries, but no column-still grain whisky. This was historically called “vatted malt” and, briefly, “pure malt,” and the hope is that this is the permanent nomenclature, you should pardon the expression.

We’ve assembled a stellar assortment Scotch and Irish single malt and blended whiskies from our most recent whisky tastings for your consideration. And some exceptional English, French, Japanese, and a range of Celtic-inspired Taiwanese whiskies that are among of the most amazing whiskies that we’ve ever tried. Sláinte, Cheers, Santé, Kanpai and Gam-Bei.

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