This is a great example of the quality single malt coming out of Ireland right now. Picture from the author’s collection.

Different countries use different spellings of the word whiskey or whisky. Traditionally, Scotland, Japan, and Canada spell whisky without the “e” while Ireland and the United States spell whiskey with the “e.”

The differentiation started around the turn of the 20th century. At that time (1860–1940), Irish whisky was spelled without the “e” and was the most popular, most produced, and considered the most premium whisky the world over. In 1860 Irish whisky accounted for 70% of worldwide production. In Dublin in the 1880’s, 40% of the work force was employed in distilling or brewing or supplying those industries.


As selection of Amari from a 2019 Spirits Tasting Class. Photo from the author.

It is important when thinking about spirits to think about their base. Generally speaking a distilled spirit starts life as either a wine or a beer. That is, it starts as a fermented fruit or grain.

An Italian Amaro, or bitter, starts life with a wine base. To be more accurate, a pomace brandy which is a spirit made from the grape solids (pulp, skins, seeds and stems) left after fermentation and pressing. These are diluted with water and fermented into a low alcohol wine and then distilled. The Italians call this distilled spirit grappa. The French call it marc.

Oddly for this Burgundian Pinot Noir the alcohol percentage is rather high ~ I suspect this had more to do with the 2019–2020 tarrifs on French wine rather than style. (Photo from my home collection.)

Last century, I was traveling alone in New Zealand. I was in no particular hurry. I had a years worth of wages in my pocket and all my possessions in a backpack. I was in the South Island town of Dunedin and it was a Sunday evening. I was in a quiet neighborhood cafe, sitting at the bar and I was tasting local Otago region wines with two attractive German sisters. The sisters were on holiday. One was a chef, the other a florist and they were teaching me about Pinot Noir. The three of us and the bar tender…

David Devere

I write about learning and experiencing life by traveling, tasting and documenting. Maybe you'll find some inspiration here.

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