Water of life!

The world’s fastest-growing spirits category of the past decade, the future of Irish whiskey is bright, with the number of distilleries growing from four in 2010 to 38 in 2019, writes Gillian Hamill

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Brand Central

23 June 2021 | 0

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Without a doubt, Ireland has played a crucial role in the global renaissance of whiskey. The Irish industry invested €1.55 billion in the all-island economy from 2010 to 2020, while the value of Irish whiskey exports from the island of Ireland reached €890 million in 2019, according to a new report published by Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey Association.

The report, ‘Irish Whiskey 2010-2020’ showed global sales grew from 60 million bottles in 2010 to 144 million bottles in January 2020. What’s more, the aggregate value of Irish whiskey exports from the island of Ireland reached €890 million in 2019.

Significantly, the Irish whiskey industry contributed €686 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) to our shared economy, with GVA per employee of €412,756, the highest across the entire Irish food and drink industry. In fact, the industry directly employed 1,640 people pre-Covid.

“This report demonstrates the strength and resilience of one of our island’s oldest industries,” said William Lavelle, head of Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey Association. “Today is an opportunity to celebrate the revival and renaissance of the industry, its contribution to the island’s shared economy, and the achievements of all those involved.”

The report also outlined how distillery developments have made a tangible and substantial contribution to local economic regeneration and to the social fabric of urban and rural communities throughout the island of Ireland.

“In 2010, there were just four distilleries operating on the island of Ireland,” Lavelle said. “Now, only 10 years later, we have 38 distilleries working in towns and villages throughout Ireland, creating jobs, attracting visitors and resulting in the restoration of distilling to areas which once had rich traditions in whiskey production.

David Stapleton, outgoing chairman of Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey Association, said the new study provided an opportunity to reflect on the sector’s success. “The report gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on how the industry has grown in just one short decade,” Stapleton said. “But, in doing so, our gaze is firmly fixed on future horizons.

“2020 has been an extremely difficult year,” he added. “However, the Irish whiskey industry has proven itself to be resilient. After decades of decline, we have experienced a remarkable decade of recovery between 2010 and 2020. That recovery will continue. The industry is ready to bounce back in 2021, and march into the next decade with a focus on the continued growth of Irish whiskey sales.”

Minister for Finance Pascal Donohoe said that the Irish whiskey industry’s performance over the last decade “charts an extraordinary path of success”.

“From the growth in the number of distilleries, which has done so much to ignite, or in many cases re-ignite, a passion for Irish whiskey, to the value of investment across the island and in local communities, which has brought new jobs to many of our region, this sector reflects, to a large degree, the journey we have been on as a country over the past ten years,” Minister Donohoe said.

“This year, however, has presented more than its fair share of challenges, with very few sectors spared,” he added. “I have no doubt though that the future remains exceptionally bright for Irish whiskey, which is revered and enjoyed the world over, and I wish the sector every success in building on this report and increasing the value of the sector further in decade ahead.”

Liquid gold

Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey was a Double Gold winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Grace O’Malley Irish Spirits keeps the wind in its sails on a worldwide adventure with a number of award wins in its latest treasure haul at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2021. Among the gold and silver medals was a double gold for its entry level whiskey, Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey, the sixth for this whiskey since its launch in 2019.

Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey is a special blend of triple and double distilled malt and grain whiskeys is unique in Ireland due to its high double distilled malt content.  Combining multiple batches of whiskey of varying age statements from three to ten years old, each batch of whiskey is aged perfectly in different barrel types including French Oak, American Oak, Bourbon and Rum Casks. Casks are hand selected and matched according to each whiskey’s characteristics for maturing and finishing. The resulting blend delivers a whiskey perfectly balanced between fruitiness, age character, complexity and smoothness.

Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey is unique in Ireland due to its high double distilled malt content

Responsible for the decisions at every step in the ageing, finishing and blending of Grace O’Malley Whiskeys is world renowned spirits expert, cellar master and blender, Paul Caris, who calls the exact moment that each whiskey has reached perfection.

Brave, bold and irresistible, Grace O’Malley Whiskeys are inspired by the many stories from Granuaile’s long and fascinating life to ensure the legend lives on and her great, rebellious heart is never forgotten. Celebrating female leadership through rebellious spirit, the brand honours Grace O’Malley, regarded as not just one of Ireland’s but the world’s most inspirational and extraordinary female trailblazers.

Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey retails at €37 RRP at Celtic Whiskey store, Irish Malts.com, Molloy’s off-licenses, Carry Out, SuperValu, Centra, and leading off-licenses nationwide. For further information visit  www.graceomalleywhiskey.com

From the west coast of Ireland to treasure hunters around the world, the brand’s message is clear: #BelieveInGrace!


Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey tasting notes

Nose: Caramel, bourbon vanilla, malty notes, dry almond, orange peel and honey.

Palate: Smooth front palate with round tannin, well balanced with fruit overtones.

Finish: Oriental pastry, sweet spice and toasted notes.


Next-level smoothness

Each whiskey in The Busker Single Collection boasts an unmistakable taste profile

Introducing The Busker, the new Irish whiskey produced at the world-class Royal Oak Distillery, in County Carlow. The Busker includes all four types of Irish whiskey (Single Grain, Single Pot Still, Single Malt and a Blend). The Busker Blend – Triple Cask Triple Smooth – combines grain with a high percentage of malt and pot whiskey. Matured and finished in three different casks (bourbon, sherry and marsala), this whiskey brings a new meaning of smoothness to Irish whiskey.

The Busker Single Collection, represented by the three traditional Irish whiskeys (Single Grain, Single Pot Still and Single Malt), is produced under one roof at the world-class Royal Oak Distillery. Each whiskey boasts an unmistakable taste profile, with nuances ranging from vanilla and oak to rich, spicy notes.

At Royal Oak Distillery, there is a huge focus on quality, as demonstrated by the recent results of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The Busker received four medals: Double Gold for The Busker Single Pot Still, Gold for The Busker Triple Cask Triple Smooth and The Busker Single Malt Irish Whiskey and a Silver medal for The Busker Single Grain. 

Moreover, The Busker has secured the highest rating (94 points) and ‘Best Buy’ among all Irish whiskey blends from Wine Enthusiast among other medals at the L.A. Spirits Awards, World Whiskies Awards and Bartenders Brand Awards.

The Busker is distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.

Keeping age-old tradition alive

Local apprentice coopers Dylan Healion and Corey Bracken will train under the expert guidance of Enguerrand Vandenbossche at Tullamore D.E.W.

Tullamore D.E.W. has recruited two local apprentice coopers, Dylan Healion and Corey Bracken to its distillery team in Co. Offaly. The role of a cooper is rare in Ireland with only five qualified coopers and four apprentice coopers across a nation with 38 distilleries. Both recruits, hailing from county Offaly, were offered this unique opportunity as they reflected an appreciation for the heritage, knowledge and skills required to keep this age-old tradition alive.  

Both apprentices will train for four years under the expert guidance of Enguerrand Vandenbossche, a French cooper with nearly 10 years’ experience in the industry and the current head cooper at the Tullamore distillery. 

As much as 80% of the character of an Irish whiskey comes from the cask which means coopers are central to the process. 

On a daily basis, each cooper will repair in the region of 23 barrels. In addition to cask repairs, the coopers will be active in the innovation space, creating specialist casks to support Tullamore D.E.W.’s premium blends. The apprentices will receive their qualification under the National Cooper Federation, an internationally recognised body that monitors excellence within the industry. 

Tullamore D.E.W. is the second largest selling Irish whiskey brand globally, with its distinct signature liquid a blend of three great whiskeys from Ireland. 

A sight to behold

Aromas of soft spices and vanilla lead to flavours of ginger, hazelnut and a long finish with toffee/caramel sweetness and spices that linger on the palate

By the coast, on the southwestern tip of the island of Ireland, in Clonakilty, the Scully family have farmed this coastal land for nine successive generations. The family’s mission is to create Clonakilty Whiskey utilising the best resources that nature has to offer, prime land, pristine water and salt sea air. The perfect ingredients for a maritime distillery.  

The state-of-the-art distillery, which opened in 2019, is located in the heart of Clonakilty town. The three gleaming copper pot stills are an inspiring sight to behold. It is here that the team distil the world’s best new make single pot still, an accolade proudly received at the World Whiskey Awards in 2020. 

Clonakilty Whiskey’s Atlantic Ocean warehouse, perched 200m above the ocean on the family farm, is ideal for maturing and finishing the finest of whiskeys. This is where the magic really happens; blending, ageing, bottling and hand-labelling. With a passion for innovation, Clonakilty Distillery strives to use only the best cask finishes for its whiskey and the current range includes NEOC, port, bordeaux and cognac casks. 

Clonakilty’s Single Batch Double Oak Finish is the flagship of the Cask Finish Series and was awarded World’s Best Blended Irish Whiskey at the World Whiskey Awards 2020. A premium product matured in ex-bourbon casks, it is finished in virgin American oak; and shaved, toasted and re-charred ex-red wine European oak casks.

For more information, visit Twitter:@clondistillery, Facebook:@clonakiltydistillery and Instagram:@clonakiltydistillery.

Trail-blazing spirit

Slane Irish Whiskey has a 40% ABV with an RSP of €33+

Slane Irish Whiskey is a multi-award-winning blend that is triple distilled for smoothness and triple-casked for character. Matured in a combination of American virgin oak, seasoned bourbon and oloroso sherry casks, Slane is a smooth, complex and robust blend that is rich in colour and full of flavour. Its striking black bottle calls out its distinctive flavour and unconventional approach that embodies the trail-blazing spirit of Slane. It has received multiple awards since launch at a local and international level, including Best Irish Blended Whiskey (RRP of less than €60) at the 2019 Irish Whiskey Awards*.

Slane can be enjoyed neat, in a cocktail, or on the rocks. #SlaneRocks.

A 700ml format is widely available across multiples and off-licences nationwide, with a 50ml format also available. Slane Irish Whiskey is distributed in Ireland by Edward Dillon & Co. Ltd. 

*(Source: https://irishwhiskeyawards.com/news/82-2017-winners-of-the-irish-whiskey-awards.html)

**(RSP is at the sole discretion of the retailer) 

Most flavourful oak

Glendalough carefully searches for the perfect oak for its casks

Glendalough Distillery is a craft distillery in the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland. The Glendalough team progressively craft spirits that evoke a sense of place, an appreciation of the wild flavours within, and a recognition of what it took to put them there. The whiskeys are the result of a relentless search for the finest, most flavourful oak species in the world.

Glendalough searches the mountains for the perfect oak – sustainably felling its own trees for casks, making sure there are more trees in the ground than when the team started.

Irish oak is rare, so the team at Glendalough also source French, Spanish and Japanese oak for whiskey maturation, controlling the quality of the oak, the cask and even the predecessor liquid. This way they have more control over the depth, and kinds of flavours in the whiskey. Some of these whiskeys have been world-firsts like Irish single malt whiskey aged in rare Japanese Mizunara oak and Irish single malt aged in Irish oak. 

Glendalough was named Sustainable Distillery of the year 2021 in Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whiskey awards. Glendalough Double Barrel won Double Gold at San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2021 where Glendalough Pot Still Irish Whiskey also won Gold.

Whiskey for every palate

The Wild Geese collection is packaged in beautiful re-usable decanter bottles

The Wild Geese premium Irish whiskey collection has a whiskey for every palate in its multi-award winning portfolio. Introduced in 2002, the three-time ‘Best Irish Whiskey’ winner was one of the first independent bottlings and the first premium and super-premium Irish whiskey collection.  From single malts to carefully crafted blends, these best-in-class whiskies are perfect for drinking neat, poured on the rocks or mixed up in a classic cocktail. 

Each whiskey is produced using an extended double distillation process for a much smoother product with distinctive character and matured in single-use white oak Bourbon casks. All are packaged in a beautiful re-usable decanter bottle made from the highest quality glass. 

The collection includes the following:

Classic Blend: An excellent entry level blended whiskey matured in ex-bourbon casks. Easygoing light, sweet and fruity, it’s a versatile whiskey that’s as at home in cocktails as it is sipped neat or over ice. One of the founder’s favourites. 

Rare: A blend of single malt and grain whiskey individually aged in ex-bourbon casks, then blended to create this “rare” expression. 

Single Malt: An exceptional aged single malt. The whiskey is passed through the stills for longer and at a lower temperature, making it smoother, retaining the flavours and giving more depth and character. 

Limited Edition: A blend of double-distilled malt, grain whiskey and a scintilla of peated malt that adds a delicious mouthfeel and long finish to an already exceptional product. Another firm favourite of the founder. 

Visit www.irishpremiumspirits.eu for more information on this exquisite range.

A huge step forwards


50,000 bottles of Dingle Single Malt were produced for domestic and export markets in year one, with an ambition to produce 100,000 bottles per year by 2023

Tasting notes for Dingle Single Malt

Nose – Lime zest and chopped mint. Fresh sweet pear.  

Taste – Apples, caramel, raisins, vanilla.  

Finish – Honey sweetness and mixed spice linger on the tongue.


Dingle Distillery launched its first core whiskey expression last month, Dingle Single Malt, a milestone in the distillery’s history and a huge step forward in its growth journey. In doing so it becomes one of few Irish distilleries to produce a core single malt product made entirely with its own spirit.  

Some 50,000 bottles of the triple distilled, non-chill filtered Dingle Single Malt have been produced and will be sold domestically as well as exported to key international markets including the UK, Germany, France, China and, later this year, the US. The distillery expects to produce 100,000 bottles of Dingle Single Malt, and half a million bottles across the distillery’s portfolio, by 2023. 

Matured in PX sherry (61%) and bourbon (39%) first fill casks and comprising predominantly six to seven-year-old spirit, every element of the production of Dingle Single Malt is manual, with a human hand and eye at each critical point. The distillery’s water source is its own well, 240 metres below ground. 

Priced at €55.00 (RRP) per 70cl bottle, the new whiskey (46.3% ABV) is available to purchase now at DingleDistillery.ie, IrishMalts.com, Celtic Whiskey Shop and across independent off-licenses nationwide. Dingle uses non-chill filtration to produce its whiskey and adds no colouring. 

 “Quality has always been at the heart of our DNA at Dingle Distillery, and that remains the case with our Single Malt launch,” said Elliot Hughes, managing director at Dingle Distillery.

We are one of few distilleries in Ireland solely producing our own spirit – we don’t buy from or sell to other distilleries. When a customer buys from Dingle, they do so with the reassurance that the spirit is 100% Dingle.  

“This new core expression will provide the opportunity for the distillery to grow,” Hughes added. “By adding significant volume to our business, we can open up new markets and broaden our appeal to attract a new type of customer. We’re very excited to present our Dingle Single Malt to the market and look forward to hearing the reaction from Dingle fans and new customers alike.” 

The London Spirits Competition recently announced Dingle Distillery’s Fourth Single Pot Still Release as the Whiskey of the Year 2021 and Best in Show at the prestigious awards. Dingle Distillery was also awarded Gold for its Single Malt Batch No 5 and both Dingle Vodka and Dingle Gin received Silver in their respective categories. 

Dingle Distillery will continue to produce limited release whiskeys alongside its new Dingle Single Malt. 

For updates, follow Dingle on social media: Instagram @dingledistillery,  Twitter @DingleWhiskey and Facebook Facebook.com/DingleWhiskey. 

Smooth yet expressive whiskey

Samuel Gelston’s Blended Irish Whiskey can be savoured neat, over ice or mixed into a long refreshing serve

Established in Belfast in the 1830s, and purchased by Harry Neill in 1869, the Samuel Gelston’s brand has remained in the Neill family for five generations. Harry Neill’s great, great grandson, Johnny Neill, now follows in Harry’s footsteps, growing the Samuel Gelston’s range to include innovative, quality Irish whiskeys with exceptional cask finishes and rate aged single malts. 

The latest launch in the range is a Samuel Gelston’s Blended Irish Whiskey, which is made from a blend of locally sourced Irish malted barley and grain that is triple distilled for smoothness before being matured in the finest quality ex-bourbon oak casks. This combination of triple distillation with the finest ingredients and cask aging creates a smooth yet expressive whiskey that can be savoured neat, over ice or mixed into a long refreshing serve.

In addition to the Blended Irish Whiskey, the range includes Samuel Gelston’s Single Malt, Single Pot Still, 5 Year Old Single Malt, 10 Year Old Single Malt, 15 Year Old Single Malt, 26 Year Old Single Malt. Cousins, Johnny and Sam Neill, descendants of Harry and Percival also recently joined forces on the latest launch that marries Johnny’s Irish Whiskey with Sam’s Pinot Noir New Zealand Wine Casks. 

Sip and whistle a while

The Whistler Trilogy showcases some of the finest whiskey, smoothest honey, and freshest cream that Ireland has to offer

The Whistler range is crafted by the Cooney family in Boann Distillery in the heart of the Boyne Valley. 

Whistled into life one fabled New Year’s Eve, it is a multi-award winning range of Irish Whiskey expressions matured and finished in a host of fascinating casks from around the world. 

Combining family traditions and technical know-how, Boann’s master distiller, family beekeeper, and master blender came together to craft a whiskey-based trilogy that showcases some of the finest whiskey, smoothest honey, and freshest cream that Ireland has to offer. 

The Whistler Trilogy range includes The Whistler Double Oaked Blended Irish Whiskey, The Whistler Irish Honey Whiskey, and The Whistler Single Pot Still Irish Cream Liqueur. 

The trilogy is joined by a family of innovative cask finishes and premium single malts.

The brand’s newest release is the Mosaic Marsala cask small batch single grain whiskey finished for no less than 15 months in Sicilian marsala casks creating a smooth, fruity and delicious addition to the range.

The Whistler range is distributed exclusively in Ireland by Barry & Fitzwilliam.

For further information, visit www.boanndistillery.ie

Generations of flair

The Generation Trilogy celebrates six generations of the Ryan family

Toomevara, Haddington and Finisher’s Touch are aptly named releases that comprise The Generation Trilogy, celebrating six generations of Ryans. The Jack Ryan Whiskey Company is the 2013 centenary revival of the 1913 whiskey finishing business set up by Thomas Ryan of Toomevara. He landed in Victorian Dublin in the 1890s, and after a vintner’s apprenticeship, set up shop on Haddington Road, beside the Beggars Bush barracks. 

His Ryan’s Malt was a Dublin favourite. The eponymous Jack, his son, honed the family’s finisher’s touch. Eunan, Jack’s son and current Ryan scion is making sure his family remains to the fore.

Jack Ryan 12 Year Old – the company’s first release – won an Irish Whiskey Award in 2014, and a San Francisco World Spirits Gold. Encouraged and buoyed by this, several releases and awards have followed. Jack Ryan Whiskey is a family-owned, independent whiskey finishing company, with its own bonded warehouse, finishing hall and bottling line. The company sources fine aged malt and age and finish small batches in its own casks – sourced from around the world – specialising in collaboration finishes with fellow quality-minded small producers of fine spirits, wines, and beers. 

Finca Museum is the first of the Ryan Cask Elite Finishes – very small single batch single cask and cask strength releases of classic, novel, and eclectic finishes. A Generation Trilogy 50ml three-pack is on the way, plus collaboration finishes in imperial stout and more. 

Exciting collaboration

The Dubliner Irish Whiskey Smoked Stout is set to excite whiskey and beer fans alike

The Dubliner Irish Whiskey has collaborated with one of Ireland’s leading craft brewers to create the second batch of The Dubliner Whiskey Beer Cask Series, an exciting, limited edition range, whereby the award-winning Dubliner Irish Whiskey is aged in beer casks, and craft beers in whiskey casks. 

The Dubliner Irish Whiskey partnered with fellow Dublin neighbour and independent Irish craft brewer, Rascal’s Brewing Co, to produce a cheeky coupling of Dubliner 3 Year Old blend with Rascal’s Smoked Stout casks, making for a whiskey packed with personality. 

You will need to be quick though – The Dubliner Irish Whiskey Smoked Stout is a limited edition with fewer than 2,000 bottles on sale, available to customers in Ireland now online from www.thedld.com for €35.

This latest collaboration saw the award-winning Dubliner Irish Whiskey share its ex-bourbon whiskey casks with fellow Dublin neighbour and independent Irish craft brewer, Rascal’s Brewing Co. The crafty Dublin 8 brewery filled the casks with its high quality, unfiltered and unpasteurised beer, and after a few months of finishing, the beer was bottled. 

The casks were returned to the Dubliner team, with each cask refilled with The Dubliner Irish Whiskey, allowing the flavours of the beer, having soaked into the casks, to seep into the three-year-old whiskey, creating a delicious blend.

More releases from The Dubliner and Rascal’s will be revealed in the coming months, announced first on Instagram @dublinerwhiskey. 

Summer sipping perfection

The Powerscourt distillery is proud to present two perfect whiskeys for summer sipping.

Fercullen 8 Year Old Irish Whiskey is a carefully selected blend of aged malt and grain whiskeys, matured for eight years in American oak and skillfully blended by Ireland’s most decorated master distiller and blender, Noel Sweeney. A classic Irish whiskey, hints of citrus, vanilla and oak combine delicately to produce a satisfying, clean, crisp mouthfeel with enough depth to bring life to summer drinks and cocktails.

Fercullen 8 Year Old has a RSP of €43.99 and is available through Barry & Fitzwilliam.

This summer also sees the first release in a three-bottle series of Fercullen whiskeys highlighting the Powerscourt Estate.

The opening expression in the ‘Estate Series’, The Mill House, is a celebration of the group’s spiritual home on the estate and location of its distillery.

This limited edition, Single Grain Amarone finish is a marriage of three casks of varying ages from 2010 to 2012, initially matured in ex bourbon American oak barrels and finished in Italian Amarone casks. Complementary influences from the grain whiskey, bourbon casks and Amarone finish, produce a whiskey with silky soft texture and a long mouthwatering depth of flavour. This whiskey is bottled at 46%, non-chill filtered and resplendent in its natural colour.

Fercullen Single Grain Irish Whiskey ‘The Mill House’ has a RSP of €75 and is available nationwide through Barry & Fitzwilliam.

 

Delicious cocktails for Summer ‘21!


The Lambay Puffin Breeze is a pineapple whiskey cocktail, ideal for kicking back with on a warm summer’s day

Puffin Breeze cocktail

50ml Lambay Small Batch Blend

10ml Limoncello

35ml Pineapple juice

10ml Lemon juice

Add all ingredients into a shaker, add ice and shake hard for 10-15 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass with ice, allow the pineapple foam to fully cover your drink. Garnish with a Lemon zest and some pineapple sprigs. Serve and enjoy!


Lambay Irish Whiskey is a portfolio of Irish whiskeys known for an unique cognac-cask finish whiskey in the Irish whiskey category. Focused on craft and the art of blending through the expertise and partnership of cognac house Camus, Lambay Whiskey Small Batch Blend continues to drive the cocktail strategy for the brand to bartenders and home drinkers alike.

Lambay Malt Irish was launched last September and is the first Irish blended single malt with a cognac cask finish in the market. Both whiskeys make excellent base whiskeys for cocktails

Lambay outlines its top five summer cocktails for the season ahead at www.lambaywhiskey.com/our-drinks.

“The drinks industry trend this summer is all about combining bold fruit flavours but in a health-conscious way, says Sabine Sheehan, Lambay’s global brand ambassador. “[It’s about] working with sugar alternatives like agave, nectars and fermented drinks like Kombucha, definitely more healthy and without the heavy alcohol taste.”

Lambay Irish Whiskey reflects the current climate of hand-crafted Irish spirits in the market that marry classical approaches with modern ingenuity, showcasing local ingredients, with an authentic story.

The Lambay Irish Whiskey Company was established in 2017 in Dublin, and is a separate business unit that belongs to the Camus Group. Headed by managing director, Jean-David Costerg, the company is also a member of Drinks Ireland and the Irish Whiskey Association.

For more information, contact Lambay Irish Whiskey Company DAC (LIWC) at info@lambaywhiskey.com, LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lambay-whiskey, Twitter: www.twitter.com/LambayWhiskey, telephone: +353 (0) 1 567 5400 and web: www.lambaywhiskey.com.


Q&A with… Bernard Walsh, managing director and co-founder of Walsh Whiskey

Bernard Walsh

Q: Once stereotypically perceived as something of “an old man’s drink”, today that is far from the case for whiskey! How would you describe the key factors driving the global whiskey renaissance?

A: There are a few things. It started with changing societal factors whereby, aided by good marketing, younger audiences gradually became interested in a ‘hidden gem’, an unexplored spirit that has great range and flexibility in terms of styles and serving options. This led to greater innovation in whiskey styles and finishes. After the financial crash of 2008, there was also a huge resurgence in cocktails as people sought to celebrate with less money in their pockets, putting greater emphasis on socialising with a smaller number of higher quality, status drinks. The market success encouraged investment in the form of increased production facilities and capacity, which further fuelled innovation and premiumisation as people sought to build on their experiences and deepen their taste range. 

Q: How has the whiskey category successfully managed to improve its appeal to female consumers and how can this be built upon further going forward?

A: The sector has harnessed the social changes of our times, whereby women (half of the entire potential audience) are as entitled to partake in any alcoholic beverage that men are. Cocktails and lighter whiskeys broadened the pathway, as did inclusive marketing communications. Once demand amongst women is well established, the usual marketing segmentation techniques, based on differentiation, will ensure that the full gamut of audience and taste profiles are provided for.

Q: How can people discover the ideal whiskey for their palate?

A: An open mind and experimentation will take people a long way. There is great choice behind bars and on shelves, as well as great information online. There are many ways to deepen your experience of whiskey including:

  1. You can find the whiskeys most suited to your taste from the Writers’ Tears and The Irishman ranges by exploring the Flavour Wheel tool on the Walsh Whiskey website. It recommends a whiskey from seven criteria that you choose from – nuttiness; spices; floral notes; earthiness; fruity cakes; woody tones and cereal notes. Discover your ideal match from Writers’ Tears and The Irishman whiskey at walshwhiskey.com.  
  2. Ask the person serving you for a recommendation. People in hospitality and retail are at the coalface and some are experts themselves.
  3. Join a whiskey society. They organise periodic tastings led by experts and brand ambassadors.
  4. Subscribe to a whiskey publication like Irish Whiskey Magazine.
  5. Seek out online retailers that sell a range of miniature-sized bottles. Order a few to experiment with.

Q: What makes Walsh Whiskey’s portfolio stand out within the international whiskey market?

A: Three things:

  1. The quality of our whiskey is of the highest order. 
  2. The uniqueness of our core whiskeys (Writers’ Tears – Copper Pot and The Irishman – Founder’s Reserve), the only whiskeys in the world to combine two premium styles (aged single pot still and aged single malt) to the exclusion of grain whiskey.
  3. The range of our rare super-premium cask finishes to include – marsala, mizunara, cognac, oloroso sherry, rum seaweed IPA and coffee stout….so far!

Q: How has the Covid-19 crisis affected the business and how have you navigated the challenges involved?

A: Like everyone, it virtually killed on-trade and travel retail lines of business, while correspondingly boosting retail and online sales. We have had to adjust our own sails accordingly. Two things that have helped us have been our international geographic spread, we weren’t over-exposed to the vagaries of a few markets, and the strong growth in demand for premium spirits which our portfolio is all about.

Q: How extensive are your marketing plans for the forthcoming year?

A: We are a small company with two whiskey brands across over 50 countries. We have five core areas of activity on the go at all times:

  1. Supporting in-market promotion, country by country.
  2. Maintaining our own communications channels on the web and social media, while building audience size and engagement.
  3. Brand development – such as the Writers’ Tears refresh last year.
  4. Launching annual and new whiskey releases.
  5. Supporting media and influencer interest in all markets.

A homage to Ireland’s creativity

Famous fans of Writers’ Tears – Copper Pot include Margaret Atwood, Stanley Tucci, Katy Perry, Marta Kauffman and JK Rowling, to name but a few

Writers’ Tears Premium Irish Whiskey, one of the Irish whiskeys that has symbolised the category’s global renaissance in the last two decades, enjoyed a sales increase of over 20% in Ireland during 2020, despite the challenges posed by Covid-19. Writers’ Tears – Copper Pot gained a new listing in Tesco, and is also on sale across major retailers including Dunnes Stores, O’Brien’s, SuperValu and other good drinks outlets such as The Celtic Whiskey Shop.

Renowned author, Margaret Atwood recently tweeted a photograph of her with a bottle of Writers’ Tears – Copper Pot in her garden during lockdown, while actor Stanley Tucci shared some of his favourite cocktail recipes on Instagram during lockdown, with a bottle of Writers’ Tears taking pride of place on his back bar. Other celebrity fans include Katy Perry, Marta Kauffman and JK Rowling, to name but a few.

Writers’ Tears is a unique style of whiskey, embedded in Irish history. A marriage of single pot still and single malt Irish whiskey, it’s distilled entirely in copper pots from 100% barley. Writers’ Tears is a critically acclaimed, award-winning recreation of the fabled 19th century whiskey, crafted in homage to Ireland’s creativity – past, present and future. 

Singularly satisfying

This summer sees an exciting whiskey launch from The Connacht Distillery, which is about to unveil the first batch of whiskey to be fully produced onsite at its Ballina location. The distillery sits on the site of the old Duffy’s bakery just outside the town, which was painstakingly renovated to create today’s state of the art facility. Since production began back in 2016, the team has carefully overseen all aspects of the whiskey making process, from mashing to maturation. While waiting for their whiskey to mature, they have created a number of award-winning spirits, including Conncullin Gin and Straw Boys Poitín and Vodka. 

Connacht Single Malt Batch One will launch in July

The First Cask of Connacht Single Malt recently sold out on pre-order and will be bottled and shipped just after the liquid turns five years old at the end of June. Connacht Single Malt Batch One comes hot on its heels at the start of July. Made from 100% malted Irish barley sourced from Hook Head Peninsula, this small batch four year old whiskey is double distilled, aged in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in Oloroso sherry casks from Bodegas Fernando de Castilla in Jeréz. It will be bottled at 43% and non-chill filtered.

 

 

 

 

 

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