The rise in popularity of unaged whiskey isn't a phenomenon limited to the U.S.
As I wrote of such things in my book "Barrels & Drams: The History of Whisk(e)y In Jiggers and Shots" (Sterling Epicure, NYC) about such spirits:
"In the United States, it's old-fashioned moonshine from corn. In Ireland it's poitin, or poteen, from grain or potatoes. Langkau from rice in Malaysia. Raki or rakia from plums or grapes in Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, and the Serbo-Croation region. Siddiq from sugar water in Saudi Arabia. Mampoer from peaches or marula fruit in South Africa. Boukha from figs in Tunisia. Screech from molasses leftovers in Canada. ... You get the idea."
The rapid expansion in the number of craft distillers, small-time operations that need some immediate cash rather than having to wait years for a product to age and then go to market, is helping fuel the trend.
Much has been written about that topic on the domestic market, but The Wall Street Journal has a very interesting look at one of the old standby spirits mentioned above -- Ireland's poitin. Here's a sample of its story:
In the wild world of moonshine liquor, Ireland's poitín is the stuff of legend. Sometimes distilled up to 180 proof, it is often stronger than absinthe and may not be much weaker than pure grain alcohol. Despite being banned in 1661, poitín (usually pronounced po-cheen) continued to flow, finding its way under the counters of Irish pubs and into the limelight of Irish folklore. Now, it's being given a new lease on life as an ideal cocktail ingredient.
Legally produced in Ireland since 1997, often at a manageable 80 proof, poitín has been relaunched in recent years by a growing number of high-end distillers as a premium spirit. And enterprising bartenders in Ireland and beyond are figuring out new ways to apply its characteristic blend of the creamy, the fruity and the earthy.
Traditionally distilled in pot stills, poitín -- from the Irish word for "little pot" -- is both fish and fowl: as clear as vodka, but with the vigor of a whiskey or rye. ...
"Poitín is clear but more in tune with a dark spirit," says Donal O'Gallachoir, co-owner and brand manager of Glendalough Irish Whiskey Ltd. ...
The firm launched 80-proof Glendalough Poitín, made with a blend of malted barley and sugar beets, at the end of 2012. This year, it introduced a 120-proof version, called Mountain Strength, as well as one aged in sherry casks for extra complexity.
You can see the full story here.