The Pooka Irish Whiskey scale was created by Irish Whiskey writer Stuart McNamara as an aid and guide to new Whiskey drinkers who were trying to work out the difference between a myriad of different types and brands of Irish whiskey.
Stuart considers many factors including quality, price, structure and age along with many other factors that go into making an Irish whiskey special. While price is one consideration, sometimes price can be more about marketing and packaging than about the whiskey. The Pooka scale is just about the whiskey.
The Pooka Irish Whiskey Scale ~ An Irish Whiskey Beginners Tasting Guide
The Pooka Irish Whiskey scale is designed to take a novice Irish Whiskey drinker on a progressive journey of discovery from easy drinking single grain whiskey and grain-heavy blended whiskeys through Single Malt and Pot Still Irish Whiskeys which have greater complexity, depth and character from distillation, blending and or maturation.
1 Pooka Whiskey
One Pooka Irish whiskey is an every-day whiskey. This is the sort of whiskey that you will pick up in a supermarket or local off licence.
These are normal fun Irish whiskeys for drinking neat, or with Ice and mixers or in cocktails, Hot Whiskeys or Irish Coffees.
They are often blends of pot still or malt whiskey with lighter, sweeter, grain whiskey added to make them an easy drinking Irish whiskey for beginners. Examples of One Pooka Irish Whiskeys include Tullamore DEW, Jameson, Paddy, Bushmills White Label and Powers.
2 Pooka Whiskey
Two Pooka Irish whiskeys are obviously a cut above One Pooka whiskeys. These special whiskeys all have something unique or special in their character through blending or maturation that takes them to the next level.
They may have been aged for longer or in special barrels such as Sherry or Madeira casks. They may be One Pooka whiskeys that have been tweaked or enhanced by blending them with even better whiskeys. Often, but not always, they cost a bit more than One Pooka whiskeys.
They are the next step on becoming an Irish whiskey aficionado.
Examples of Two Pooka Irish Whiskeys include Green Spot, Hyde Whiskey, Teeling Small Batch, Tullamore DEW Cider Finish, Jameson Black Barrel, Slane Whiskey and Powers Three Swallow.
3 Pooka Whiskey
Three Pooka Irish Whiskeys are Premium Irish Whiskeys. They are often double or treble the price of a One Pooka Whiskey, but make no mistake, they are worth it! At this level, I would suggest you may be wasting your money if you add ice or mixers or use for Irish Coffee or a Hot Toddy. After all, would you add fruit juice or ice to a fine wine? Drink Three Pooka whiskeys neat or with a splash or two of water to open up their aroma or nose and flavour. Three Pooka Whiskeys normally make up the bulk of a whiskey aficionado’s collection. Stuart’s Three Pooka Top Tip is to buy a different Three Pooka whiskey once your latest Three Pooka purchase is one third to half empty. In that way you will start to build up a nice collection of half full Three Pooka whiskeys to share a glass from when you are in that nice whiskey mood!
Examples of Three Pooka Irish Whiskeys include Yellow Spot, Tullamore DEW Phoenix, Redbreast 15 Year Old, Redbreast Lustau, and Powers John’s Lane.
4 Pooka Whiskey
Four Pooka Irish Whiskeys are Super-Premium Irish Whiskeys. They generally cost between €100 and €1,000 and are definitely a very, very special purchase for the average Irish Whiskey aficionado or collector. Think of them as Special Birthday or Christmas present material for the whiskey person in your life! But rest assured, you will never regret the purchase as a Four Pooka whiskey will probably provide a few years of enjoyment before the empty case and bottle become a treasured memento on your shelf for many more years again.
Examples of Four Pooka Irish Whiskeys include Midleton Very Rare, Midleton Barry Crockett, Redbreast 21 Year Old and Midleton Dair Ghaelach.
5 Pooka Whiskey
Five Pooka Irish Whiskeys are Hyper-Premium Irish Whiskeys. Often they are very rare, either through age or limited bottling. They generally cost in excess of €1,000 and sadly, because of this are often bought as investments, never to be drunk and enjoyed. These are obviously not a purchase for the average Irish Whiskey Fan! Or, maybe they could be! Stuart was recently fortunate enough to be invited to the launch of a special anniversary bottle of a Premium Irish Whiskey brand costing €6,000 a bottle or €300 a glass. It occurred to him that many sports and social clubs will often organise specialised and one off trips and events for their members costing in excess of €300. Imagine the fun a Whiskey Club could have if they bought a €6,000 bottle of whiskey amongst 20 members at €300 a glass. Think of the stories and memories from the night you drank a glass of the best Irish whiskey ever made. That is what a Five Pooka Irish Whiskey should really be about!
A very good example of a Five Pooka Irish Whiskey is Midleton Pearl which is a 30th anniversary limited edition (just 117 bottles produced) of the best ever Midleton blended whiskey ever produced using 30 year old single grain and single pot still expressions personally chosen by Midleton’s Master Distiller Emeritus Barry Crockett and Midleton’s current Master Distiller Brian Nation.
The Pooka History ~ What’s A Pooka?
In ancient Irish folklore, the Pooka or Púca in Gaelic is a mythical creature of the Irish spirit world that lives in the rural countryside. Whiskey is one kind of friendly Irish Spirit. The Pooka is a different kind of friendly Irish Spirit. Hence the choice of name for our scale!
The English version of the Pooka is Puck who was a half tamed and mischievous woodland fairy who would offer advice and assistance to those he liked. Rudyard Kipling wrote a book about them called Puck of Pook’s Hill.
The Pookas are said to be the spirits of ancient Celtic warrior tribes such as the mythical Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fir Bolg who built and lived in ancient Irish Ring Forts or Fairy Forts during the Neolithic Iron Age and Bronze Age over two thousand years ago. Ring Forts built near lakes and water were known as Crannogs.
The thousands of Fairy Forts which still survive intact in the Irish landscapes today are now said to be portals to the magical spirit underworld of the ancient Celtic Pookas and the Fairy People.
It is said one Pooka Spirit guards each small ring fort and up to five Pookas guard the largest forts which would have been home to Irish Chieftains and High Kings thousand and more years ago.
To this day, farmers and land developers in rural Ireland work around rather than destroy or interfere with the homes of the Pooka to avoid bad luck and public ire.
It’s considered lucky in Ireland to have a fairy Fort on your land, as once you respect the resident Pooka, he will in return, respect and protect you and your family. In times of worry or trouble, the Pooka will appear in the form of a small elf or talking animal (generally a black or white horse) to offer guidance, wisdom and magical support to his host family.
So what better name for our Irish Whisky Scale than the Pooka Scale. Friendly, Irish Whisky Wisdom from one to five Pookas; friendly Irish Spirit Guides to lead you on your own Irish Whiskey odyssey.
– Stuart McNamara