Episode 4: Bigger Stills, Bigger Sales & The World Discovers Irish Whiskey

July 22, 2022


In this episode we examine the eventful period from the passing of the 1823 Excise Act to the late 1880s, a period that saw the first Irish Whiskey boom, the establishment of distilleries like Midleton Distillery in Co. Cork with the world’s largest pot stills, the troubling potato famine and the fateful abstinence movement combined with the world suddenly realizing the quality and flavor of Ireland's whiskey.

This is the period that made the Irish whiskey industry what we know it as today, from triple distillation to whiskey bonding and the size of distilleries, these all originated from the passing of this fateful 1823 act. 


Irish Whiskey Historian & Co-Host, Fionnán O'Connor, dives deep into Ireland's whiskey past.

What we learn about in this episode

  • The act that shaped the identity of whiskey in Ireland and Scotland
  • The establishment of large distilleries
  • The opening of Midleton Distillery and the installation of the world's largest pot still
  • The effect the horrific potato famine had on the distilling landscape in Ireland
  • The arrival of triple distillation to Irish whiskey
  • The rise of the whiskey bonder & bottler
  • Gentleman distillers and their impact on the cities they operated in
  • Ireland receives its first "whiskey influencer" visitor in 1889
  • Irish whiskey finds a new audience overseas
  • The whiskey boom of the mid 19th century
  • The challenge to Ireland's dominance with the arrival of a new distilling apparatus


More than any single piece of legislation, the Excise Act of 1823 shaped the identity of Irish whiskey and shaped the identity of whiskey, full stop, and it was the result of the Poitín Wars. - Fionnán O'Connor


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Here is a short clip of our conversation:



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