December 10, 2021

The Rich History of Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey is one of the oldest distilled drinks in the world. But how was it created? In this blog, we dive into a brief history lesson on the origins of this delicious drink.

A Long Time Ago In a Country (Not So) Far Away…

Irish whiskey, believe it or not, was developed by monks in Ireland. Historians speculate that they uncovered the practice of distillery in southern Europe and brought it back to the country in around 1000AD. 

Upon taking advantage of this practice, it is thought that the monks initially distilled perfumes before finding a way to create a drink. Eventually, Irish whiskey was produced. However, it was not the whiskey we know and love today – it wasn’t aged and was instead flavoured with herbs such as mint and thyme.

Records of Irish whiskey are few and far between. Most of the history of production wasn’t physically recorded, and production was unregulated and often illegal. The oldest record of Irish whiskey comes from 1405. This record concerns the head of a clan who died after drinking too much of the drink at Christmas. 

During the Tudor period, Irish whiskey was widespread in England. However, an Act of Parliament was passed in an attempt to regulate brewing to wealthy men. Although this was passed, the English did not control much of Ireland beyond the Pale of Dublin. As a result, this act had little effect on the country at large. 

World War I and II

During the 20th century, World War I had a drastic impact on the Irish whiskey industry. Exports ground to a halt as ships were threatened by submarines and naval attacks. As the war came to an end, the market struggled to get back on its feet. 

Prohibition in the United States also began in 1920, cutting off the American market. Unfortunately, the 1930s were no better. Trade embargos prevented whiskey from being exported to the European market, and many distilleries shut down. 

World War II again caused international exports to halt and plunged the industry into a time of crisis. 

The 1960s

However, all was not lost. In 1966, three established firms came together to save the Irish whiskey industry – John Power & Son, John Jameson & Son, and Midleton distillery in Cork. These companies had seen other distilleries decimated over the decades and took drastic action to save their livelihoods. 

They formed the Irish Distillers to improve their distilleries and remake a name for Irish whiskey. Together, they built the New Midleton distillery, which produced products for all three companies in the same place. However, they focused mainly on Jameson, the brand they believed had the best commercial success chance.

This commercial success was found in 1988 when French company Pernod Ricard bought Irish Distillers. This gave the luxury products an international market and distribution network, propelling Irish whiskey into the global drinks market once again. 

Modern Day

This leaves us in the modern-day, with Irish whiskey once again acknowledged as one of the most luxurious drinks produced. At present, the market is booming, and aged whiskeys are valuable commodities. The Irish are proud – and rightly so – of the incredible casks that they produce year after year. 

As the market grows and is set to overtake the Scotch market by 2030, now is the perfect time to invest in Irish whiskey casks. If you are ready to invest in your own whiskey cask, why wait? Contact London Cask Co to find out more today.