Irish Whiskey vs American Whiskey: Difference and Comparison

The process of distillation is a significant one in the preparation of any alcoholic beverage. Earlier, whiskey was not allowed to age; therefore, it was very raw and harsh in taste compared to today’s whiskey.

It was also not diluted. But with time, it came to evolve into a much smoother drink.

Two of the most common of them are Irish whiskey and American whiskey. Undoubtedly, both whiskeys are luscious and widely preferred.

As the names suggest, Irish whiskey is made in Ireland, and American whiskey is in the USA.


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Key Takeaways

  1. Irish whiskey is made from a mash of malted barley, while American whiskey can be made from various grains such as corn, rye, and barley.
  2. Irish whiskey is distilled three times, while American whiskey is distilled only once or twice.
  3. Irish whiskey is generally smoother and less smoky than American whiskey, often characterized by a more robust flavor profile.

Irish Whiskey vs. American Whiskey

Irish whiskey is made primarily from barley, and it is distilled three times to produce a smoother, more refined taste. It must be aged in wooden casks for a minimum of three years. American whiskey is made from a variety of grains, including corn, rye, and barley. It is aged in charred oak barrels, which gives it a darker color and a smoky, oaky flavor. 

Irish Whiskey vs American Whiskey

Both varieties of whiskey are distinct in their taste, flavor, preparation, and aging time.

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonIrish whiskeyAmerican whiskey
OriginIrish whiskey is prepared in Ireland. American whiskey is prepared in the USA, mainly in Kentucky.
Ingredients It is made up of barley, sometimes from a wheat and barley blend. While it is made up of malted corn, rye, or wheat.
FlavorIt has a smooth and light taste. It has sweet and spicy flavors and is denser.
MaturationIt is aged in old wooden barrels. Whereas it is aged in previously unused charred-oak barrels.
Ageing TimeIt is aged for a minimum of three years. It is aged for a minimum of two years.
DistillationA triple distillation method is followed. A double distillation method is followed.
TypesSingle Malt whiskey, Single Pot whiskey, and Blended whiskey are the types of Irish whiskey.Bourbon, Tennessee, Rye whiskey, Corn whiskey, Wheat whiskey, and American Blend are the types of American whiskey.

What is Irish whiskey?

Irish whiskey is a type of whiskey made in Ireland. It was once one of the world’s most famous and preferred spirits.

But over time, there was a great resurgence in its popularity. Once it had 30 distilleries, the number was reduced to just three.

The whiskey uses Barley as the primary ingredient. It is also sometimes made from a blend of Wheat and Barley to get the malted and unmalted flavor.

The triple distillation method is followed, and old wooden casks or barrels are used to age the whiskey for at least three years.

Unpeated malt is almost always used. The varieties and types of Irish whiskey comprise a significant number of them.

Single Malt whiskey, Single Pot whiskey, and Blended whiskey are the three types.

The whiskey has a smooth and light flavor to it. This is why it is mostly preferred for drinking straight, unlike American whiskey.

Irish whiskey is distilled to no more than 189.6 proof and is bottled at no less than 80 proof.

Interestingly, it was found that using straightforward chemometric procedures in Irish whiskeys makes them well characterized by the four higher alcohols that can be easily distinguished from other whiskeys.

irish whiskey

What is American whiskey?

American whiskey is a type of whiskey made in the United States of America, mainly in Kentucky. During the American Revolution, whiskey was used as currency.

It is prepared from fermenting cereal grains such as Wheat, Rye, or Corn.

The grains are malted for the preparation of this whiskey. Various types of American whiskey have different compositions of these grains.

Bourbon whiskey: 51% corn, Corn whiskey: 80% corn, Rye whiskey: 51% rye, Wheat whiskey: 51%, and Tennessee has a similar composition to that of Bourbon whiskey.

American whiskey follows the method of double distillation. It is aged in new or previously unused charred-oak containers.

Corn whiskey is an exception, as it does not need to be aged. All the other types are aged up to a minimum of two years.

These have a sweet and denser flavor, which is sometimes spicy.

The addition of coloring and flavoring to American whiskeys is prohibited. Only water is added to the final product.

The whiskey is distilled to no more than 160 proof and barrelled at 125 proof.

On May 4, 1964, Congress granted Bourbon whiskey the designation of a distinct product of the USA. It remains the only spirit produced in this country to enjoy such protection.

american whiskey

Main Differences Between Irish Whiskey and American Whiskeys

  1. Irish whiskeys are made in Ireland, while American whiskeys are in the USA.
  2. American whiskey has a sweet and dense flavor, whereas Irish whiskey has a smooth and light flavor.
  3. Irish whiskey is aged for a longer time.
  4. Old barrels are used for aging Irish whiskey, while new barrels are used for aging American whiskey.
  5. Irish whiskey is made from barley, and American ones are made from corn, rye, or wheat.
Difference Between Irish Whiskey and American Whiskey
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