The word whiskey comes from the Irish word uisce beatha (pronounce ish-ka ba-ha), meaning water of life and it is believed to have been first distilled by monks in Ireland around the 11th or 12th century.
Authenticity is key. The provenance of Irish whiskey is protected under European Union rules. If it is called Irish whiskey it must be distilled and matured on the island of Ireland.
It is only Ireland and the United States of America who spell whiskey with an e. The Whisky spelling, without the e, is used for the spirits of Scotland, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Finland, Germany, France and India.
There are 18 licensed whiskey distilleries throughout Ireland, of which 12 are distillery visitor centres, and there are 15 more whiskey distilleries in development making Irish Whiskey the global brand leader of the spirits world. Well-known brands include Jameson, Teelings, Tullamore D.E.W., Bushmills, Paddy’s, Redbreast, Powers.
Irish whiskey has seen a great resurgence in popularity since the late twentieth century and today it is the world’s fastest-growing spirits category, representing a third of the value of all Irish drinks exports. It is estimated that nearly 120 million bottles (10 million cases) were sold in 2017.
Irish whiskey is exported to over 135 international markets, the United States of America is its number one importer followed by Canada and emerging markets in Asia, Japan in particular where a new EU-Japan Partnership Agreement was signed. All this ensures that Irish whiskey will be around for a long time to come.
The reemergence of Irish whiskey and a growing interest in the distillery process has brought incredible changes to the whiskey landscape in Ireland ensuring that it is an exciting time to visit Ireland and explore its whiskey heritage and culture as well as experiencing the future of whiskey as it reveals itself.