It’s fitting that a summer-long tasting “tour” of some of the world’s best whisk(e)ys concludes next week on the day marking halfway to St. Patrick’s Day with a virtual trip to where it all began: Ireland.

Irish whiskey takes center stage on Sept. 17 during stop #3 of the Whisk(e)y World Tour at Hugh O’Neill’s pub in Malden. American bourbon whiskeys highlighted tasting #1 in July while Scotch whiskys starred in August’s #2 event. The tastings give attendees a chance to compare the varied styles and flavors of whisk(e)y in a fun and relaxed setting.

7th century Irish monks created the world’s first whiskeys using copper stills brought back from pilgrimages to the Holy Lands. The world “whiskey” itself is an Anglicization of the playful Irish expression that the monks gave their new dram -- “uisce beatha” or “water of life.”

Irish whiskey popularity soared through the 19th century to the point that it dominated liquor sales worldwide by 1900. The four largest Irish distilleries at one time produced a combined 5 million gallons a year compared to 100,000 gallons of Scotch made in Scotland. But the onset of World War I began a 70-year decline that continued through the War of Independence, Civil War, Economic War with Britain, U.S. Prohibition and WWII.

By the late 1960s, Irish whiskey production was in dire peril. Where there once had been 28 legal distillers, a handful of survivors consolidated to form one company with two distilleries – Midleton in Co. Cork and Bushmills in Co. Antrim.

The 1987 opening of the Cooley distillery in Co. Louth marked the rebirth of Irish whiskey. Today there are 4 distilleries – with expansions underway at 2 of those -- and 3 new plants in development. Irish whiskey is now the fastest growing spirits category worldwide with new styles and tastes to delight everyone from whiskey enthusiasts to curious newcomers.

Presented by whiskey specialists All About The Craic, the tasting will include some of the newest, hard-to-find Irish offerings. The evening starts at 7 p.m. with the dinner included in the $50/person fee. Attendees are strongly encouraged to reserve a spot here. Payment can be made in advance online or at the event.

A celebration of Irish whiskeys and the fact that it's only 6 months to St Patrick's DayGoogle Images