Four categories exist for Irish whiskey: Single Malt, Single Grain, Pot Still, Blended. Each of these categories are simply explained below;
- Single Malt is a malted barley distilled in a pot still. This is the closest to Scotch Single Malt, only that it’s almost always triple distilled in Ireland and only (again, usually) twice distilled in Scotland. The best bottles you’ll find are Connemara Peated Malt, Bushmills 10, 16, and 21 years, Locke’s Single Malt, and Tullamore D.E.W Single Malt 10 year.
- Single Pot is a mixture of malted and unmalted barley distilled in a pot still. Often the whiskey will tell you on the label that it’s a pot whiskey but not always. Pot Still whiskey is a unique style of distilling to Irish whiskey and Pot Still whiskey is regarded at the most highly regarded Irish whiskey. Try are Yellow Spot, Green Spot, Redbreast, and Power’s Three Swallows.
- Grain whiskey is made by a continuous distillation in a column or Coffey still from a variety of grains. More often than not, these whiskeys are used for blended whiskeys, so finding one isn’t always easy. However, there are Single Grain Whiskeys on the market, Teeling’s Single Grain being the most common.
- Blended Whiskey is the most common form of Irish whiskey you’ll find. Basically it’s a blend of any and all of the above types of Irish whiskey. This is Jameson, Busmills, Tullamore D.E.W, Power’s, Paddy, Black Bush, etc. That’s not to say that each of those distillers don’t also make single malts or single grains, they often do. But the average bottle of Irish whiskey is going to be a blend — this is also true of the vast majority of Scotch whisky sold on the open market.