Head to Head: We pit the Irish against the Scots

 Scotch Whisky

Richard Paterson
Master Distiller, Richard Paterson, The Dalmore

What is it that you love the most about Scotch Whisky

There are many reasons. Both my father and grandfather were whisky blenders therefore whisky really does run in my blood ……with a passion. One of the greatest loves I have for Scotch Whisky is to be with a Single Malt, like Dalmore when it was first born, first distilled, say 40 years ago. Watch it mature, see how it develops. Transfer it into different woods. Allow it to truly shine. Bottle it in all its glory. Wins many accolades but more importantly see the immense pleasure it gives to every recipient who has the privilege of tasting it. Immortal.

 Do you think it’s essential for a bar to have a range of Scotch Whisky? Why?

Scotch Whisky is renowned all around the World. Although Blended whisky still accounts for almost 92% of the whisky market, singles malts are now achieving immense popularity. Not only that, aged Single Malts are commanding exceptionally high prices. £125,000 for one bottle of Dalmore 62 years old! Therefore, if a bar today does not have a large range of Scotch Whiskies, then quite frankly,it is not a bar!


List three points that make Scotch the superior tipple.

1: Scotch only comes from Scotland, yet for such a small country it is known throughout the World.

2: There are 108 Distilleries (plus a few boutique ones emerging) in production at the present time in Scotland. They come from 4 distinctive regions – The Highlands, Lowlands, Campbeltowns and Islays. Each area, brings a wealth of different flavours and styles to satisfy the most discerning palates.

3: No other spirit around the World provides such lasting pleasure as Scotch Whisky.

Does Irish whisky have any strengths you’d like to see adopted by the Scotch Whisky industry?


How do you think Scotch is best enjoyed?

This is purely personal however a little splash of cool still water does help to open up the whisky, especially if it is cask strength whisky. Remember if the whisky is 12 years old, give it at least 12 seconds on the palate. Top of the tongue, underneath the tongue then back on top again before swallowing. The longer you keep it in the mouth the more flavours you will extract. If you combine it with a rich black Colombian coffee, then the whisky. Finally with a bitter chocolate 72% cocoa fat. The flavour combination will be sensational.

Your favourite whisky and why?

I drink whisky at different times of the day. It depends on what kind of mood I am in. If I am outside with the wind and rain in my face – I love Jura “Superstition”, as the tang of the peat smoke and sea spray match the temperament perfectly. If I am at home, relaxing, and it is very late, then the Dalmore King Alexander 3, is just ideal with 6 wonderful cask finishes – 1992 Dalmore in Port, Madeira, Marsala, Cabernet Sauvignon, Matusalem and Small Batch Bourbon each one will tease and tantalize the palate. What a way to relax.

Irish Whiskey

Shane Fitzharris
Brand Manager, Shane Fitzharris, Writers Tears

What do you love about Irish Whiskey?

I love the history and tradition, the authentic heritage, the “story” if you like, which is a long and proud one, but above all the smooth and complex taste of Irish Whiskey. Most Irish whiskeys (including Writers Tears) are triple distilled for extra smoothness; this is very evident from the taste.

Do you think it’s essential for a bar to have a good range of Irish whiskies?

Irish whiskey is a rapidly growing category at the moment; more and more people are drinking it. This is obviously driving a lot of interest through the bars and restaurants. We are seeing growth in long drinks at the bar with “Writers Tears Pear and Lemonade” or “Writers Tears Ginger and Lime” being very popular. It is also experiencing a renaissance in the cocktail industry with Irish Whiskey cocktails appearing more and more regularly on trendsetting lists across the globe. Because of this shift, it is becoming increasingly important for a bar to be able to offer the consumer a diverse choice of Irish Whiskey away from the mainstream brands.

Could you list three advantages of Irish whiskey as compared with other whiskies like Scotch?

1: Non Peated: Unlike Scotch whisky, the malted barley in Irish whiskey is dried in enclosed kilns not over peat and therefore lacks any smokiness that you get with many a Scotch. This ensures that we maintain the natural flavour of the barley in our whiskey bursting with flavour and complexity.

2: Triple Distillation: While Scotch Whisky is mostly distilled only twice, Irish Whiskey traditionally undergoes triple distillation. This ensures extra smoothness and purity is not present in other whiskies.

3: Pot Still Whiskey: This is a unique whiskey to Ireland is widely regarded as the “champagne of Irish Whiskey” and is produced with malted and un-malted barley, Writers Tears is a vatted Pot Still which essentially means a vatting of Single Malt Whiskey with Pot Still Whiskey.

Are there any strengths of other whiskies that you’d like to see replicated in the Irish whiskey industry?

I would like to see more expressions being added and more innovation with speciality finishes to grow the category both up and out. The Irish Whiskey industry is an uncluttered category with plenty of opportunity to differentiate. However we can learn from other categories to encourage all year round drinking of Irish Whiskey instead of peaking in December and March (St Patrick’s Day). This has got to be the goal for our industry.

How is Irish Whiskey best enjoyed?

It’s a very individual thing but personally I prefer my Irish Whiskey straight up in a good quality whiskey glass. Getting the aroma, taste and finish are all part of it for me. That said, I like nothing better than adding some ginger and lime on a hot day! Truthfully, there is probably no wrong way to drink Irish Whiskey.

Your favourite whiskey, and why?

I’m going to go with Writers Tears Pot Still on this one, as it is a vatting of both Single Malt and Pot Still whiskies (no grain) which makes it quite unique.  The fruit on the nose as well as the pepper and spice on the taste is amazing. I prefer my whiskies with a long finish and this doesn’t disappoint with background notes of caramel and ginger. Writers Tears Cask Strength is up there too….can I pick 2!? 🙂 I love the whole story and image around Writers Tears and for a family run, independent Irish company like us to have a whiskey of this quality makes us all very proud.

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