Irish whiskey comes in several forms. If the whiskey is continuously distilled from unmalted grains, it is referred to as grain whiskey. This lighter and more neutral spirit is rarely found on its own and the vast majority of grain whiskey is used to make blended whiskey, a product made by mixing column still product with richer and intenser pot still product. Irish whiskeys made in a pot still fall into two categories. Those made entirely from malted barley distilled in a pot still are referred to as single malt whiskeys, a style also very commonly associated with Scotch whisky. The second style of Irish pot still whiskey is single pot still whiskey, made from a mixture of malted and unmalted barley completely distilled in a pot still. This later style has also been historically referred to as "pure pot still" whiskey and "Irish pot still whiskey." Older bottlings often bear these names. Regardless of whether the blended whiskey is made from combining grain whiskey with either single malt whiskey or with single pot still whiskey, it is labelled with the same terminology. In Scotland, blended whiskey is made with a single malt pot still component.
Irish whiskey was one of the earliest distilled drinks in Europe, arising around the 12th century (see Distilled beverage). The Old Bushmills Distillery claims to be the oldest surviving licenced distillery in the world (it received a licence from James I in 1608), although the Bushmills company was not established until the late 18th century. A statute introduced in the late 16th century introduced a viceregal license for the manufacture of whiskey.
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