A whiskey made by a single Irish distillery using a fermented mash mixture containing a minimum of 30% malted barely, 30% un-malted (green) barley, water and yeast. Additional cereal grains up to 5% may also be included such as rye, maize, millet, oats or wheat. The whiskey must be distilled using traditional pot stills either 2 or 3 times to a minimum of 40% ABV. It must also be aged for at least three years in oak casks, as determined by the Irish government.
Let’s take a closer look at how single pot still Irish whiskey is made and how it differs from the other three types of Irish whiskey.
What is the difference between single malt and single pot still?
The key difference between single malt and single pot still Irish whiskey is in the grains used in mash mixture. Single malt whiskey uses only malted barley whilst single pot still whiskey uses both malted and un-malted barley. Both whiskeys must be distilled in traditional pot stills either two or three times and aged in oak casks for at least three years.
Single pot still whiskey is unique to Ireland and isn’t produced anywhere else in the world. The closest comparison to this style is American whiskeys or bourbons which use multiple cereal grains in their grain recipes know as a mash bills.
The addition of un-malted barley (also known as green malt) is known to give pot still whiskey it’s uniquely spicy flavour and oily mouthfeel. At a minimum of 30%, un-malted barley is known to carry more robust, spiced notes in the final distillate.
What is pot still whiskey?
Pot still whiskey is made at multiple Irish distilleries, rather than a single Irish distillery. However, the pot still recipe is exactly the same for the whiskeys within the final product. It must still contain a minimum of 30% malted barley, 30% un-malted barley, a maximum of 5% other cereal grains, water and yeast. The only difference between these types of pot still whiskeys is their source – either multiple or single distilleries. (Single always refers to a singular distillery.)
What is pure pot still whiskey?
Pure pot still whiskey was the original term used for single pot still Irish whiskey. In 2011, the American Tax and Trade Bureau changed their acceptance and importation of food or drinks products described as ‘pure’. Since then, Pot Still whiskeys from a single Irish distillery are now prefaced as ‘single’ instead of ‘pure’.
Bottles of pure pot still whiskey are still in circulation today. They’re regularly seen in auctions bearing the old term of ‘pure’ on their labels. Old style Irish pub posters and advertisements often feature pure pot still whiskeys as seen below.
Why add green malt?
In the 1700’s, the Irish government imposed heavier taxation on malted barley. For distilleries, this incited the use of alternative grains to minimise their tax bills. Un-malted barley (green malt) was a resourceful way of reducing their heavily taxed grain, resulting in what became known as pot still whiskey.
Additional grains such as rye, wheat or oats were also included in these formative grain bill recipes as a means of reducing the percentage of malted barley content. Not only did this result in less taxation but yielded a unique flavour which has become one of Irish whiskeys’ signature styles.
What are the 4 types of Irish whiskey?
The four types of Irish whiskey include; Single Malt, Pot Still, Single Grain and Blended. The most highly produced type of Irish whiskey is blended which comprises 90% of the overall industry.
- Single Malt Irish Whiskey
- Single / Pot Still Irish Whiskey (This article)
- Single Grain Irish Whiskey
- Blended Irish Whiskey
To learn more about the different types of Irish whiskey, check out our article Irish Whiskey vs Scotch.
7 best single pot still Irish whiskeys to try
Teeling Single Pot Still Whiskey
Teeling Single Pot Still Whiskey is a unique and historic expression that pays homage to the tradition of distilling whiskey in Dublin. With a mash bill of 50% malted and 50% un-malted barley, this whiskey has been bottled at 46% ABV with no additional chill-filtration or colouring. On the nose, it offers hints of Bourbon vanilla, stewed orchard fruits, classic pot still spices as well as dried herbs and leather. The palate reveals creamy pot still character with notes of toasted barley, latte and salted caramel along with dark fruit, winter spice and rich nuttiness. The finish brings out deeper tones such as chocolate and coffee mixed with stone fruit, oak spice and spearmint. Teeling Single Pot Still Whiskey is an experience that will take you on a journey back to the days of traditional Irish distillation.
Redbreast 12 Year Old Whiskey
A quintessential and must-try single pot still Irish whiskey. Crafted from a combination of malted barley and un-malted barley, it is distilled at the Midleton distillery and matured in American oak bourbon barrels and Spanish oak Oloroso sherry butts. The nose offers nutty, rich, and oily aromas with hints of dried peels, ginger, linseed, and cut fruits including a touch of melon. On the palate, Redbreast 12 Year Old has a spicy kick with robust body that features notes of nuts, citrus peel and juice, marzipan, dried fruits and a faint hint of Sherry. Its finish lingers long on the tongue with creamy custard-like flavors laced with subtle spice.
Green Spot Single Pot Still Whiskey
Green Spot Single Pot Still Whiskey is an Irish whiskey renowned for its robust flavor, maturity and complexity. It is a single pot still whiskey that has been aged in a combination of first and second fill bourbon casks along with sherry casks. On the nose, this whiskey reveals aromas of peppermint, malt, sweet barley, creamy vanilla, papaya and citrus. On the palate it is spicy yet soft with notes of gentle bourbon oak, green woods and menthol. The finish is creamy and long-lasting with hints of vanilla. Green Spot Single Pot Still Whiskey is an exquisite Irish whiskey that’s worth your wallet.
Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Whiskey
An exquisite example of Irish whiskey combining malted and un-malted barley with the rare addition of Irish Barra oats for a unique flavour. Crafted in The Shed Distillery, it is triple distilled and then matured in bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks. This creates a delightful balance of creaminess and spice that is evident from the first taste. On the nose, you’ll find creamy rice pudding, vanilla, toasted oats, and classic pot still spice – all leading into chocolate-coated raisin. Packed with decadent flavours of fruitcake and melted milk chocolate with creamy orange curd and buttered scone. If you’re looking for something special when it comes to Irish whiskey, Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Whiskey delivers every time.
Writers Tears Single Pot Still Whiskey
An expertly crafted Irish whiskey with a triple-distillation process that results in a smooth, velvety texture. Initially matured in ex-bourbon casks, it’s then aged in ex-Pedro Ximénez and ex-Marsala wine casks to give the spirit its signature sweet flavour profile. On the nose, expect aromas of candied fruits and nuts such as caramelized almonds and dates, while the palate introduces a hearty spice and chewiness from sultanas and figs.
Jameson Single Pot Still – Five Oak
This single pot still whiskey from Jameson combines malted and un-malted barley which has been triple distilled and then matured in five (yes five) different oak cask types, including bourbon, sherry, as well as three types of virgin oak sourced from Ireland, Europe, and America. On the nose it has notes of baking spice, oaken vanilla, toffee apples, dark chocolate, and honeycomb. The palate is rich with flavours of ginger, orange peel, ripe stewed fruits and smooth vanilla fudge. This robust whiskey offers layered complexity that makes it perfect for savouring neat.
Micil Earls Island Single Pot Still Whiskey
This single pot still whiskey is a smooth, complex and full-bodied expression from the Micil distillery in Galway. In usual Irish fashion, it’s been triple distilled and finished with a Bordeux red wine and ex-peated cask finish. The nose reveals sweet vanilla custard, spiced apple cake and red summer berries. On the palate, it is reminiscent of smoked salted almonds, berry compote and plenty of baking spices. The finish is comprised of lingering spices with hints of toasted marzipan. This exquisite Irish whiskey is perfect for a slow savouring experience in front of an open fire or to enjoy with friends over ice.