After spending a weekend in the city of Edinburgh I was pleasantly surprised to see that in a city that boasts no distilleries of its own, every bar has a reasonably priced and varied selection of Scotch whiskies, ranging from small to huge. I had a stark realisation that the bar industry in Scotland was far more aware of having a drinks selection outside of the draft beer and wine, that appealed to tourists and locals alike who wished to sample what Scotland had to offer.
Irish bars and restaurants have perfectly manicured wine selections, with bottles hailing from the likes of France, California and Chile. While the singular lonely bottle of the Irish home grown spirit is only reserved for hot whiskeys.
The Irish whiskey industry is going through a monumental renaissance at the moment. Distilleries are popping up all across the country and this expansion is only being mirrored by the fact that Irish whiskey is currently the fastest growing spirit in the world. Tens of thousands of tourists come to the Emerald Isle every year to witness the birth-place of Irish Whiskey and the bar trade seems none the wiser that there is a market of locals and tourists who have a taste for the grain.
We have seen that there is a market for it. The Irish Whiskey Museum opened recently in the heart of Dublin city and they have shot straight to the top of Trip Advisors attractions in Dublin city. Thankfully we are also seeing the beginnings of Whiskey bars start to poke their head’s above the parapets in some of the major cities too. This is a great start but it should be better. The thirst is there and the publicans of Ireland are not quenching it.
Now I’m not suggesting that every bar owner in the country rushes out and drops €7,000 on a bottle of Middleton Pearl. But for a couple of hundred euro a bar would be able to stock its shelves with a snippet of the variety that Ireland has to offer.
A decent selection served in a decent glass (I’m not saying we should all stock up on glencairns straight away but not a high ball either) would enable publicans to widen their portfolio of clients as well as their profit margins.
Tourist spots could better cater to the visitors who have come to our country having heard so much about the national spirit. It could become a very enticing selling point for Irish businesses, introducing both foreigners and locals to what Ireland has to offer, both in the glass and on the plates with clever food pairings.
The Irish whiskey market is booming and with the global reach of the spirit getting wider its time for the Irish bar trade to catch up before they get left behind.
TL:DR: Irish bars need to stock better varieties of Whisk(e)y.