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If the debate of the origin of whiskey (Ireland or Scotland) wasn’t enough, people are also wondering, which style of whiskey is the best. Even though many people are under the impression that Single Malt is the best kind of whiskey, that is not always the case. There are also other whiskey styles that can be very high quality. The top-rated whiskeys come in a manner of different styles and which one is the best, is a matter of personal taste. However, to be able to differentiate between them, this post will explain to you the all the different styles of whiskey.

In Ireland, the most common whiskey styles are:

  • Single Malt
  • Single Peated Malt 
  • Single Pot Still
  • Single Grain 
  • And Blended

But what does this mean? And which Irish whiskey brand makes which kind of whiskey? Let’s go through each term individually.


When a whiskey has the word “single” in its title, that refers to the distillery and not actually the style of the whiskey. Single means that every part of the whiskey making process took place in one distillery and that no whiskey from another distillery was used to make this whiskey.


In order to make whiskey of any sort, barley must be malted. This means that the barley is soaked in water until it sprouts roots. These roots are where the sugar comes from which is then used to create the alcohol in the whiskey. If a whiskey says “Single Malt” it simply means the whiskey was made with 100% malted barley and it was distilled using traditional copper pot stills.  A single malt whiskey will be sweet and mild in taste.

In Ireland, the most famous single malt is probably Bushmills. It is even widely considered the best Irish single malt whiskey. Other whiskeys of this kind are Glendalough Single Malt and The Irishman Single Malt.

Irishman Single Malt
Connemara Peated

Peated Malt

Is a whiskey labeled peated malt, it means that the malted barley was smoke dried using peat. This style is more commonly found among Scottish malt whiskies. A few hundred years ago in Ireland, when people were distilling whiskey or poitín at home illegally, the smoke would have been too obvious and altered authorities to home distillation. Therefore, with Irish single malt, it is more common to air dry barley in a kiln. Peat dried malt gives the whiskey a smokey flavor.

The most famous Irish peated single malt is Connemara, in its distinctive green bottle. However, West Cork and Hinch Peat Single malt are also very good examples of peated malts.

Pot Still

Pot Still whiskey is a style of whiskey that was invented in Ireland. In 1785 there was a tax placed on malted barley. The Irish, not wanting to pay the tax, started mixing raw barley in with their malted barley so they wouldn’t have to pay as much. In doing so, they accidentally created an oily and therefore much smoother whiskey. Many Irish whiskey drinkers would consider Pot Still to be the finest whiskey style in Ireland. If a whiskey says “Single Pot Still” or “single pot” it means that the whiskey was made with a combination of malted and raw barley, and it was distilled using traditional copper pot stills. A pot still whiskey will have a sweet and spicy taste with a long finish.

Middleton Very Rare is of course the most famous Single Pot Still – highly regarded as the best Irish Whiskey. No wonder, that it is also one of the most expensive Irish Whiskeys. However, there is also much more affordable high quality Irish single pot still whiskeys, for example Powers Three Swallow, Green Spot and Redbreast.

Powers Three Swallow


The term grain whiskey means that the whiskey was distilled using a continuous still instead of the traditional pot still. Instead of barley, a grain is used in the making of this style of whiskey. Most of the time this is made with corn but sometimes it can also be wheat. A continuous still is a faster and cheaper method to make whiskey. A grain whiskey will have a sweet taste and a sharp finish in the mouth.

Single grain is a newer style to make Irish whiskey, some distilleries, however, do it very well already. Fercullen has a range of aged single grain whiskeys, Kilbeggan is known for its single grain and Busker Single Grain is also a popular choice.

Whiskey Cocktail


Blended whiskies are a combination of whiskies. Usually, distillers use grain whiskey to build up their Malt or Pot still whiskey. This style of whiskey is usually more affordable in price than the single style whiskies. Blended whiskeys have a variety of different tasting notes as it depends on which whiskeys are used to make them. Blended whiskeys are great for using as a base when making cocktails.

The most famous blended Irish whiskey is of course Jameson. It is a famous choice all over the world. If you would like to try blended whiskey other than Jameson, there is also Teelings Small Batch, Bart’s Blend, Tullamore Dew Original and many other brands from around the country.

Now that you know all about the different kinds of whiskeys, have you already found a favorite? If not, our guided tours through the Irish Whiskey Museum are a great way to do so, as they always include a whiskey tasting at the end. And of course, you can always do an individual whiskey tasting at our bar.

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