Cutting a dash!
With the value of Irish whiskey exports to the all-island economy exceeding one billion euros for the first time last year, there is undoubtedly phenomenal interest across the globe in premium Irish whiskey. Here at home, the sector is also increasingly finding favour among the millennial and generation Z consumer segments, writes Gillian Hamill
25 April 2023
Unique in its richness and tradition, Irish whiskey has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years. Between 2010 and 2020, sales of Irish whiskey grew from 60 million bottles a year to a massive 144 million. This is according to a report published by Drinks Ireland and Irish Whiskey Association in December 2020, which also found that Irish whiskey was the world’s fastest-growing spirits category of the past decade.
Indeed, the value of Irish whiskey exports to the all-island economy exceeded one billion euros for the first time in 2022, the Irish Whiskey Association reported. This assessment was based on CSO/Eurostat data from Ireland and member data from Northern Ireland.
“Breaking one billion in export value represents another important milestone in the Irish whiskey renaissance and confirms the importance of our unique all-island industry to our shared economy, north and south,” said William Lavelle, director of the Irish Whiskey Association. “Across the island of Ireland, the growth in Irish whiskey exports has created more quality jobs, brought more investment into regional and rural communities, and led to more purchasing from Irish farmers.”
The key drivers of Irish whiskey export growth identified in the Irish Whiskey Association’s ‘Irish Whiskey Global’ international trade report published in October 2022, include the growing global demand for premium, higher priced Irish whiskey – in line with consumers drinking less, but drinking better; rapid market diversification; the rise of e-commerce as major sales channels post-Covid; and increased interest in Irish whiskey from the millennial and generation Z consumer segments.
William Lavelle noted that the category has benefited from drinkers’ desire to ‘trade up’ from premium to high-end and super-premium products. “While Irish whiskey has been the world’s fastest growing spirit since 2010, this growth has primarily taken place at standard price points,” he said. “This is changing, as more and more consumers are turning to Irish whiskey as their luxury whiskey of choice. With more supply coming available of age-statement, super-premium brands – from both established and newer distilleries – it is clear that Irish whiskey is going to be an increasingly important player at the higher end of the whiskey market, becoming a real alternative to Scotch single malts.”
Another statistic which shows the huge interest in the Irish whiskey sector is the fact that Irish whiskey distilleries around the island of Ireland attracted 677,000 visitors in 2022, an increase of 425% on 2021 but still a third down on the pre-Covid peak of 1.02 million, according to the Irish Whiskey Association.
In fact, it is expected that at least 26 Irish whiskey distilleries will be open to visitors in 2023, directly employing over 400 people.
With many eyes on the thriving sector, here we outline all the latest offerings cutting a dash in Irish whiskey.
The Powerscourt Distillery in the historic Powerscourt Estate is thrilled to announce its double triumph at the prestigious World Whiskies Awards held in London on 30 March 2023.
The esteemed distillery won two highly coveted awards in the Irish Category, showcasing its excellence in whiskey craftsmanship and further solidifying its position as a world-class whiskey producer.
These accolades reflect the dedication and skill of the distillery team, who have passionately crafted each whiskey using traditional methods and innovative techniques. Winning two Irish category World Whiskies Awards is a substantial achievement for this rapidly growing distillery. Still, it will be no surprise to those in the industry who have long recognised the distillery’s commitment to excellence.
“We are honoured to have our whiskeys recognised at this level,” said Roger Duggan, GM of The Powerscourt Distillery. “These awards represent our entire team’s hard work, passion, and commitment, and we could not be prouder of this remarkable achievement. This double victory confirms our vision to create world-class Irish whiskey, and we’re excited to share our award-winning spirits with whiskey enthusiasts around the globe.”
Head of brand and NPD, John Cashman said: “The World Whiskies Awards is a premier celebration of the very best in all recognised styles of whiskey, to win two Irish Category awards at this prestigious ceremony is an amazing accomplishment for Powerscourt Distillery.
“These awards not only reflect the work, dedication, and quality of all the team at Powerscourt, but also the best of our home, County Wicklow. The Italian Gardens release was inspired by the world-famous Italian garden at Powerscourt, whilst the Distillery Select was made in collaboration with The Wicklow Brewery in Redcross, County Wicklow. The Powerscourt Distillery is now recognised amongst the best whiskey producers in the world, and we look forward to continuing to bring the ‘Spirit of Wicklow’ to a global audience.”
The World Whiskies Awards are the global awards selecting the very best in all internationally recognised styles of whiskies. The awards select, reward and promote the world’s best whiskies to consumers and trade globally. The event is a key highlight in the whiskey industry calendar, with esteemed judges from various sectors of the whiskey world evaluating each entry based on a blind taste test. Winning these prestigious awards reaffirms The Powerscourt Distillery’s dedication to producing exceptional whiskeys that stand out among the competition.
Situated in the heart of the picturesque Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow, The Powerscourt Distillery is committed to sustainability, sourcing local ingredients, and preserving the surrounding area’s natural beauty. The distillery’s success at the 2023 World Whiskies Awards Irish Category highlights its ongoing commitment to excellence and innovation in the world of whiskey.
For more information about The Powerscourt Distillery, its award-winning Fercullen whiskeys, and distillery tours, visit www.powerscourtdistillery.com or follow the distillery on social media across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Divine new trio
Boann Distillery has launched three new whiskeys as part of its premium Whistler range.
The cask finished series are triple distilled for extra smoothness, with each having its own unique finish, including a 16-year-old single malt finished in rare Palo Cortado sherry casks.
The Whistler Dark Symphony, a category winner at the World Whiskies Awards already this year, is a blend of 20% malt and 80% grain. It boasts a unique finish in New Era Oak Casks (N.E.O.C) Cognac barrels for a minimum of 12 months.
The N.E.O.C. process includes hand-shaving and delicately toasting the staves to bring forward oak spiciness, which work in harmony with notes of candied fruits from the cognac influence. The whiskey is bottled at 43% ABV, is non-chill filtered and contains no caramel colouring.
The Whistler 10-year-old French Oak offers a unique single malt whiskey that highlights the best traits of two different species of oak. The whiskey is matured in American Oak for a full bodied and honeyed profile, then finished in French Oak infused with the finest Bordeaux wine. The French barrel was taken through the N.E.O.C. process to offer a virgin oak base for further maturation, giving the whiskey a ‘New Oak’ style spice that works in harmony with notes of dried fruits.
At the top end of the range is the single malt 15-year-old Whistler El Misterioso, presented in a striking red single bottle gift pack. First matured in second fill bourbon barrels for 14 years, this unique triple distilled Irish whiskey was then finished in rare Palo Cortado sherry casks for two years.
Mystery surrounds Palo Cortado because nobody fully understands its origins. It is a sherry that occurs by accident, and is only produced naturally from 1-2% of grapes pressed for sherry. Initially aged under flor to become a fino or amontillado, it inexplicably loses its veil of flor to begin aging oxidatively like an oloroso. It is bottled at 43% ABV and is non-chill filtered.
Co Meath’s Boann Distillery is renowned for its innovative distilling techniques and use of rare and special casks, making it a standout in the Irish drinks industry.
It is the brainchild of the Cooney family, who are leading a renaissance of Irish whiskey with their state-of-the-art facility outside Drogheda.
Full tasting notes for all three whiskeys are available on the Boann Distillery website, www.boanndistillery.ie, where the whiskeys can also be purchased.
The Whistler Dark Symphony retails for €52.50, the 10-year-old French Oak for €75 and the 15-year-old Whistler El Misterioso for €165.
There is more than one way to enjoy Single Malt Irish Whiskey. It is one of the three key ingredients in the light, fresh blend that is Coole Swan; whiskey, chocolate and cream. A modern Irish cream for today’s world, it’s perfect over ice or chilled and simply stunning in a truly inventive range of cocktails.
Coole Swan is intent on shaking up the creams category with a fresh approach to how consumers can enjoy creams today. The brand partners with mixologists to create simple, easy to make cocktails each season. This summer, it is showcasing The Coole Lemon Frappe which is deliciously light and fresh; not what consumers would expect from creams. Created by Rewfus Broad, Coole Swan’s mixology partner, it’s great fun to make and delicious to enjoy with friends.
Coole Swan is an independently owned and family-run business.
Discover more about this perfectly crafted Irish product and the inventive ways to serve it at www.cooleswan.com, or follow on social media for all the latest updates @cooleswan on Facebook and @coole_swan on Instagram.
For adults aged 18+ over: Drink Coole Swan responsibly.
Warrior spirit lives on
Grace O’Malley Whiskey is named after the legendary 16th century Irish pirate queen, born in Co. Mayo in 1530. This whiskey embodies her charismatic nature and timeless character. A natural clan leader and fearless seafarer, Grace O’Malley was not only a daring dealmaker but a ground-breaking provocateur. Undeterred to go against the grain, Grace’s warrior spirit lives on.
Kathrina Rupit, KinMX, is an Irish-Mexican visual street artist who has designed a special mural artwork showing Grace O’Malley in her role as a lionized warrior holding her weapons – a book and a pen, laid solidly on the foundation which the sword has carved out. With them, she writes her destiny.
This artwork is proudly displayed on the Grace O’Malley Special Blend Whiskey, a unique blend of triple and double distilled malt and grain.
As the creators of a brand dedicated to the legendary Irish Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley, the team at Grace O’Malley Irish Spirits have collaborated with a selection of Irish-based artists through the partnership, bringing their talents to the project through various mediums, street art, photography, videography, performance, projection mapping, digital art, textile and sound design.
Grace x KinMX is stocked at SuperValu and independent retailers nationwide, with a RRP of €36.
Tantalising journey of taste
The Busker includes all four types of Irish whiskeys to meet every taste and preference.
Its roots may run deep at Royal Oak Distillery. It may call County Carlow home. But only in wandering far has this smooth, authentic Irish whiskey found its true place in the world. Here. Among the spirited like you.
The Royal Oak Distillery is a world-class distillery producing hand crafted Irish whiskey, proudly located on an 18th century estate in Ireland’s Ancient East region. It’s one of Ireland’s largest operational whiskey distilleries.
An Irish whiskey brand with a strong line-up, The Busker features all four existing expressions in the Irish whiskey world, ranging from single grain to single malt and the single pot still. The brand guarantees high quality products with an affordable price.
The Busker Triple Cask Triple Smooth offers a combination of three of the best whiskey styles that Ireland has to offer. The tasting journey commences with rich tropical fruits and sweet vanilla notes as the taste buds begin to experience that beautiful malt, capping it all off with a superbly balanced mouth sweetness that begs for more.
The secret to The Busker Single Grain is in choosing the highest quality spirits and combining them with hand selected casks. Its satisfying taste starts off with sweet caramel and soft vanilla combined with delicious oak notes.
The Busker Pot Still is a distinctive expression to Ireland, created to bring your customers on a journey of exceptional character. Taste buds kick off with some beautiful intense spices balanced with some toffee, reaching towards a long warm finish.
Meanwhile, The Busker outstanding Single Malt is matured in two different woods to deliver a complexity that is waiting to be experienced. Notes of fruit meet floral elderflower as the taste opens with intense richness, landing on a sweet chocolate note.
How to make the Busk & Ginger:
- 1 part: The Busker Triple Cask
- 2 parts: ginger ale
How to make it:
- Fill a high ball glass with ice
- Pour The Busker Irish Whiskey
- Top up with ginger ale
- Stir and garnish with a wedge of lime and ‘Busk It!’
The original triple blend
Tullamore D.E.W. is the original triple blend of Irish whiskey. By combining three spirits, the blend gives Tullamore D.E.W. three dimensions of flavour to explore; malt whiskey for the fruit flavour, pot still whiskey for the spice and grain whiskey for the sweet. These three spirits come together to give Tullamore D.E.W. a balance of flavour like no other in the category.
Tullamore D.E.W. has a rich heritage of whiskey distilling excellence since its establishment in 1829 and has gone on to become the number two Irish whiskey globally and the number five Irish whiskey in Ireland*. Created in the heart of Tullamore by Daniel Edmund Williams, the whiskey is still proudly made there today, in the state-of-the-art Tullamore D.E.W. distillery which is open year-round to visitors.
Tullamore D.E.W.’s award-winning range includes Tullamore D.E.W. Original, Tullamore D.E.W. XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish, Tullamore D.E.W. 12-year-Old Special Reserve, Tullamore D.E.W. 14-Year-Old Single Malt, Tullamore D.E.W. 18-Year-Old Single Malt.
Tullamore D.E.W. is distributed in Ireland by Richmond Marketing.
*(Source: Collated EPOS data to 26/02/23; Latest MAT – 52 Weeks)
A step up from the ordinary
UAIS: The Triple Blend is a unique blend of 25% single malt, 25% single pot still and 50% single grain. The three core types of Irish whiskey blended together in perfect harmony. The high proportion of single malt means UAIS stands out from other Irish blends. The addition of single pot still brings unique textures and flavours. Grain, the workhorse and often backbone of blends, brings sweetness and mouth-coating body.
UAIS is a step above the ordinary in more ways than one. The bottle is made from the most eco-friendly materials possible; 100% recycled glass and recycled paper for the label with a sustainable wood stopper and a biodegradable vegetable-based seal. UAIS is a part of Ahascragh Distillers Family Bond series of sourced releases but within a few years the liquid inside these bottles will be produced using a zero-emissions distilling process at Ahascragh Distillery. This eco-distillery in the West of Ireland will be powered completely by renewable energy. Their new highly efficient energy storage and heat pump technology is a first for the industry.
UAIS is an authentic Irish whiskey with an innovative twist. A blend of old and new; traditions, flavours and stories.
It’s available now at Celtic Whiskey Shop, Irishmalts and all good stockists.
A lasting impression
The Irishman range of super-premium whiskeys, produced by Walsh Whiskey, is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in single malt whiskeys. A striking rebranding was launched in 2022 and has seen the brand experience significant growth across both on and off-trade. The bespoke, tall, tapered bottle, with a series of embossed phrases around the lower part of the bottle, has considerable stand-out on shelf.
The first Irish whiskey to introduce braille to its labelling, The Irishman was also among the first brands to introduce nutritional and calorific information on e-labels positioned on back of pack and online.
The braille, highlighting The Irishman’s brand name, is also a personal tribute by founder Bernard Walsh to the memory of his own grandfather, Jack Walsh, whose loss of vision in later life, and enjoyment of a good whiskey, made a lasting impression on his grandson.
The Irishman – The Harvest, the core expression in the range, is a multi-award-winning Irish whiskey crafted entirely from a mash bill of 100% Irish barley. A truly unique blend of two premium styles of whiskey, The Harvest honours the great contribution of the farming community in the whiskey-making process.
The Irishman’s brand focus and purpose is to pursue a lifelong journey in search of the perfect drop of single malt, while respecting past traditions and with ambition for future possibilities. The Irishman portfolio consists of The Harvest; Single Malt; Caribbean Cask Finish; 12-Year-Old Single Malt; 17-Year-Old Single Malt & the Vintage Cask. Annual limited releases and cask finishes are also regularly produced to challenge the perception of Single Malt whiskeys.
Synonymous with creativity
Writers’ Tears Irish whiskey is a brand synonymous with creativity. Pride of place on the bar at the Oscar Wilde Awards in Hollywood this year, Writers’ Tears cemented its status as the drink of choice by the Irish contingent at the pre-Oscars party.
The unique appeal of the brand name is matched only by the incredible liquid – a marriage of aged single pot still and single malt whiskey. The core expression in the portfolio, Copper Pot, is named in honour to the age-old craft of whiskey production in Ireland. Each bottle of Writers’ Tears has gracefully passed through the copper pots to become the remarkable high-quality craft product that is enjoyed today.
Writers’ Tears Copper Pot is triple distilled, matured in American oak bourbon casks and patiently left to wait until the time has come to fill your glass. This whiskey is gently spiced with a burst of ginger and butterscotch alongside flashes of apple and vanilla over background notes of toasted oak.
Alongside Writers’ Tears Copper Pot, the brand has most recently introduced a Single Pot Still to its portfolio of award-winning whiskeys, paying tribute to this most creative of whiskey styles.
Originally matured in bourbon barrels, the triple-distilled, single pot still whiskey, was then further matured in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks from Spain and Florio Marsala Hogsheads from Sicily, before being cut at a juicy 46% ABV. The whiskey’s nose delivers candied sweetness and toffee apples, while the palate features notes of pot still spice and the velvet, dessert-like qualities of PX Sherry, finishing with a light chewiness.
Writers’ Tears portfolio consists of Copper Pot, Double Oak, Single Pot Still, Red Head and the Vintage Cask. Annual limited releases and rare cask finishes, such as Japanese Mizunara Oak and Ice Wine, drive the brand’s experimental creativity.
A true taste of Ireland
Hyde Irish Whiskey is a premium range of multi award-winning Irish whiskeys matured and finished to perfection in the idyllic landscape and temperate climate of West Cork.
The Hyde family has been involved in Irish whiskey since 1640, when the family had a well-known pub at ‘Tinker’s Cross’ in West Cork from 1640 until 1962. It was from here they became whiskey bonders – an almost lost art.
An exceptional, small-batch, hand-crafted Irish whiskey collection, today Hyde is an independent ‘bonder’ of Irish whiskey owned by Conor Hyde. Conor hand-selects only the very finest Irish whiskey, made by only the very best Irish whiskey distilleries, which is then in turn finished in a variety of vintage oak casks.
Indeed at Hyde, “it’s all about the wood”. Using generations of experience, the team at Hyde hand-selects only the very finest oak casks from around the world to give each variation a distinct character profile.
Hyde recently launched two new Irish whiskeys, The Éiregold Special Reserve Blend and Hyde No. 11 peated single malt Irish whiskey. Both 700ml bottlings are matured in American white oak, ex-Bourbon casks.
The Hyde No. 11 is branded with the year 1949 across the label, paying homage to Ireland’s first president, Douglas Hyde, who died in 1949. This peated single malt is a non-chill-filtered limited-edition expression which has been aged for eight years. It is smoky on the nose, offering notes of pear, apple and hints of dried fruits. Also boasting a sweet palate of honey and toasted oak, the whiskey features a biscuity malted-grain flavour. The finish gives way to a rich, creamy and full-bodied taste, and the spirit sits at 43% ABV. Hyde is proud to be one of the few Irish pioneers into the peated whiskey sector.
Meanwhile, the Éiregold Special Reserve is triple distilled in a copper pot still and aged for a minimum of eight years. On the nose, the Éiregold liquid presents a balance of spicy and sweet Bourbon-like notes, as well as infusions of cinnamon and clove. The palate includes hints of robust grain spice, vanilla, charred oak and black pepper, while the finish is long and smooth with a combination of oak and barley.
The 40% ABV Special Reserve retails for RRP €29.99 while No. 11 has a RRP of €49.99 The whiskeys can be bought in the UK from Ocado and Master of Malt, and in Ireland from irishmalts.com.
Earlier this year, Hyde Irish Whiskey won a Gold medal for The Éiregold Special Reserve Blend in The Spirits Business’ Irish Whiskey Masters 2021.
For further information, contact Hyde Irish Whiskey (Hibernia Distillers Limited).
Address: Cork Bonded Warehouse, Sitecast Estate, Little Island, County Cork, T45 YF43
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: +353 ( 0 ) 87 6539676 Telephone: +353 (0) 21 4614240
Web: www.hydewhiskey.ie/ and check out Hyde’s pages across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Waterford Distillery, the world’s biggest producer of biodynamic and organic whiskies, was crowned Brand Innovator of the Year at this year’s Whisky Magazine’s Global Icons of Whisky 2023.
Receiving the award for the third year running, Waterford Distillery was recognised across the industry following a range of new product releases, including the first truly Irish peated whiskies in generations. One of the distillery’s latest bottlings, Heritage Hunter, resurrected long-forgotten barley varieties not used in production since 1970s – rediscovering the unique flavour of iconic Irish barley.
With dedication to sustainability and Irish-grown ingredients at the heart of Waterford’s whiskey production, Waterford Distillery was also highly commended at regional level for Distiller of the Year, late last year.
Launched in 2007, the Icons of Whisky Awards are a celebration of the years of hard work that go into every bottle.
Irish whiskey. Reimagined.
In a world full of traditional Irish whiskies, Roe & Co. is different. Sure, the brand has history – its roots run deep with an 18th century maker in George Roe and a 19th century pear tree in its back garden. But Roe & Co. is more excited about what’s to come than what’s gone before.
Roe & Co. was born from collaboration among Irish bartenders and the brand’s distilling team. They trialled 106 blends to define an award-winning whiskey with delicious orchard fruit notes. Roe & Co. is named in honour of George Roe, the whiskey maker who led the golden area of Irish whiskey in the 19th century, who distilled his spirit in the same location Roe & Co. does today.
In Dublin, head distiller Lora Hemy uses old and new whiskey-making methods. Her team ages grain and malt whiskies in ex-bourbon barrels, non-chill filtered and bottles at 45% ABV. These unique blends and methods produce a whiskey which on the nose has notes of orchard fruits and woody vanilla. Sipped, you will discover hints of spiced pear and creamy vanilla. The finish is lingering and gentle with an ending with light creaminess.