Words by: Simon Difford
Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey is unique to Ireland. It is made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley which is then triple distilled in copper pot stills within a single distillery. The inclusion of unmalted barley to the mashbill along with triple distillation defines the character of this style of Irish whiskey.
The term was introduced in April 2011 when, due to as a direct result of pressure from the USA's Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), Irish Distillers (a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard) agreed to drop the term 'pure pot still' Irish whiskey, which the company had previously been using, from its Red Breast whiskey's label (and their other pot still whiskies such as Green Spot).
The previous nonsensical term 'pure' was used for Irish whiskies originating from a single distillery but following the TTB's ban of the use of the term, these whiskies are now more sensibly labelled 'Single Pot Still Whiskey'.
Although the term Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey is particularly identified with Irish Distillers' Midleton Distillery in County Cork, other Irish distillers such as Teeling in Dublin are now producing this style of spirit, and when they have sufficient aged stocks may choose to also market their whiskey using this term.
Single pot still whiskey contains a varying proportions of malted and unmalted barley where as more commonplace 'single malt whiskies' are made solely using malted barley. It is the use of unmalted or 'green' barley that sets this whiskey apart and it was only introduced in the 1800s by Irish distillers seeking to reduce the amount of tax they were paying on malted barley, a tax that had seen dramatic increases at the time.
Released in February 2016, this is the first ever Redbreast single cask bottling. Sherry butt No. 30087 yielded just 576 bottles, exclusively available through The Whisky Exchange. Blackened fruit cake, matchbox lighting strip, coal dust, burnt raisins, prunes and dates with faint crushed mint and cracked black pepper. Water reveals old leather, espresso, brasil nuts and peacan pie.
Billed as “the first ever single pot still Irish whiskey to be finished in Bordeaux wine casks”, this Green Spot expression was first matured in a mix of ex-oloroso sherry, new American and ex-bourbon casks before finishing in ex-Bordeaux wine casks from Château Léoville Barton for 12 to 24 months. Baked apple and pear, autumn leaves, cinnamon and nutmeg with faint raspberry. Vanilla and Jammy Dodger biscuits emerge with water.
The first of the Redbreast range to be matured solely in oloroso sherry seasoned casks. Mano a Lámh means ‘hand in hand’ in Spanish and Gaelic respectively and the name plays tribute to the Spanish artisans which supply Midelton Distillery with sherry butts. Raisins, sultanas and prunes with earthy pine needle, linseed oil putty, unsalted butter and vanilla with faint mocha coffee and lavender blossom. Water releases dill and lavender.
Originally launched as a one-off in 2005, demand turned this into a core expression but the quality of some subsequent bottlings suffered compared to the excellent original due to shortage of suitable stocks. Happily this sherry rich Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey appears to be back on form. Nutty, berry nose with oily and floral aromas.
Distilled from a mash of malted and unmalted barley, triple distilled in copper pot stills and matured in a combination of American oak ex-bourbon barrels and first-fill Spanish oak oloroso sherry seasoned butts for a minimum of 21 years, with some whiskeys in the blend as old as 28 years old. Autumnal apple, fallen leaves and acorns with tropical dried fruit – mango, pineapple and guava. Toasted barley, new leather, light pot still spice and cacao.
The distillers this single pot still Irish whisky refers to are Barry Crockett and Brian Nation. Released September 2013, the limited edition of 500 bottles celebrates Brian taking over from Barry as Master Distiller at Midleton and the event held to mark the commissioning of the new distillery. Fruity nubuck leather, dried apricot and apricot jam with cherry, vanilla and cedar wood. Water releases notes of red apple.
Relaunched in May 2012 after 45 years of extinction, this Irish single pot still whiskey is triple distilled in copper pot stills from a mash of malted and unmalted barley. It is aged 12 years in three types of cask: American oak ex-bourbon barrels, Spanish oak sherry butts and Spanish malaga casks. Buttery cigar box wood and vanilla custard with clove spice, peach skin, overripe banana and green tea.
Named after the second generation Master Distiller, Barry Crockett, legacy is a single pot still Irish whiskey aged 10-22 years mostly in first-fill ex-bourbon casks with some whisky matured in unseasoned virgin American oak casks also introduced to the blend. Bottled without chill filtration. Inviting and delicate. New leather, cedar wood, toast and vanilla with acacia honey, red apple, dried apricot, cocao, lime zest and honeysuckle blossom. Water teases out fruity aromas.
Powers John's Lane is named after the home of the Powers brand at John's Lane in Dublin. This 12-year-old single pot still whiskey has been matured in first-fill bourbon barrels with an element of whiskey matured in oloroso sherry butts also introduced to the blend. Bottled without chill filtration. Earthy, woody nose with butter, tobacco, nubuck leather and cacao.
Redbreast is single pot still Irish whiskey distilled from malted and unmalted barley in copper pot stills and matured for a minimum of 12 years in a combination of first-fill American oak ex-bourbon barrels and some Spanish oak oloroso sherry seasoned casks. Bourbon/rye whiskey-like nose with fruit cake, vanilla fudge and toffee-apple.
Green Spot originates from a time when many whiskey brokers bought and matured casks to use in their own blends. This blend was created in the 1920s by Mitchell and Son, a family firm of wine merchants which dates back to 1805. Oak aged old cider with hints of vanilla, sherry and linseed.
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