Monday 7 September 2015

Writers Tears, Copper Pots

When the Irish Whiskey Technical File was published, I noted that Writers Tears had been somewhat shortchanged by its relegation to the blended whiskey category.

Typically, a blended whiskey is lighter, cheaper whiskey made in a column still, amped up with a dollop of either pot still or malt whiskey (both made, confusingly, in a pot still) for flavour.

Writers Tears is a blend of just pot still and malt, with no column still contribution, and it's one of the best Irish whiskeys under €50.

Until now, Writers Tears has been able to declare itself a "Pot Still Blend" or even, simply, a "Pot Still Irish Whiskey" on its packaging. "Pot Still Whiskey" has an older meaning, however, one now resurrected and given legal force by the Technical File. Writers Tears, though made in pot stills, is not a pot still whiskey. It contains pot still whiskey, but in a blend with malt whiskey.

While the File was still being drawn up by the Irish Whiskey Association, I asked the company founder, Bernard Walsh, if there would be a special category for Writers Tears (along with his similarly formulated Irishman whiskeys). Apparently, though, it was never raised as a subject for consideration, there being too many other matters to tease out.

Instead, Walsh Whiskey is going with the simpler expedient of replacing the words "Pot Still" with "Copper Pot" on the label. It's a reminder that Writers Tears is made the old fashioned way and it comes, appropriately, just as the new Walsh Distillery in Carlow takes delivery of its copper pot stills from Forsyths in Scotland.