Irish whiskey was once held in higher esteem than its rivals over the water in Scotland and the United States. Battered by a series of economic and political misfortunes, it went into a steep decline for most of the 20th century. The last decade has seen a dramatic rebirth, with a huge surge of interest from Ireland and overseas. Whereas the Scots are best-known for their single malt whisky, our unique specialty is single pot still whiskey. This distillation method gives almost all of our whiskies a distinctive flavour that sets them apart from their rivals elsewhere.
Fionnán O’Connor, a postgraduate student in TCD, has an in-depth knowledge of all things related to whiskey and pot still whiskey in particular. A Glass Apart tells the long illustrious history of pot still whiskey, how it is produced, and most importantly what it tastes like. O’Connor takes the reader through all of the available Irish pot still whiskies, with comprehensive tasting notes on each. He takes an expert look on how to taste and enjoy whiskey, and profiles the personalities behind our national drink, including the distillers, the coopers, the blenders, and maturation experts. He provides an in-depth history of the craft in Ireland, covering many of the extinct distilleries in the towns and cities of Ireland. It is, as O’Connor says ‘an introduction and a love letter to the history, craft, and diversity of Ireland’s re-awoken firewater phoenix’. A Glass Apart is a lavish and comprehensive production, with excellent photography by Ove Grunnér. Published by Images Publishing it will be available in bookshops from next week. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in our national spirit.
Below O’Connor explains the history behind Power’s Whiskey – the old distillery is now the National College of Art & Design in Dublin. Behind him are the three giant copper stills.