Jameson Whiskey’s Newest Caskmates Collaborations

Irish whiskey giant, Jameson Irish Whiskey, are quickly growing their supporter base of beer cask whiskey finished series, ‘Caskmates’. This overnight success has seen an estimated quarter million 9litre case increase for the behemoth of the category. A fantastic feat when they have seen almost no cannibalization of their Jameson ‘original’ market share either. Continue reading “Jameson Whiskey’s Newest Caskmates Collaborations”

Round 2 for McGregor’s Proper No. Twelve

Rushing seems to be the MO (Modus Operandi) of McGregor’s Proper No. Twelve Whiskey. The initial release of the whiskey was launched in a flurry of half completed and illegal decisions that, most notably, saw the whiskey released into the European market in 750ml bottles (EU legally requires spirits to be bottled in 700ml formats). Furthermore, their bespoke embossed green bottle was nowhere to be found and the replacement bottle was painted an odd green hue which did not bond with the glue of the label creating a very shabbily hashed together product. So, surely they can only go up from here? Continue reading “Round 2 for McGregor’s Proper No. Twelve”

Green Spot Cask Strength Single Cask

Tonight saw the launch of the newest expression of the Mitchell & Sons/Irish Distillers Spot Range, Red Spot. The event took place in Mitchell’s old bonding cellars under the streets of Merrion Square, where attendees were brought through the heritage of the Spot Range and introduced to the whiskey that has been absent from the Irish whiskey landscape for over five decades. Although, it seems that another Spot release flew under the radar at this event. Continue reading “Green Spot Cask Strength Single Cask”

The Galway Whiskey Trail

Currently we are going through a second golden age for Irish whiskey. A few years ago there were only 4 distilleries on the island and next year we are expecting to see nearly 30 in operation. Irish whiskey is no longer playing to the stereotype of the “fighting Irish” or just a simple additive to make caffeine alcoholic. The Irish whiskey industry is forging a its place in the global marketplace. It’s synonymous with traditional craft, high quality, smooth and palatable whiskey and this reputation has seen the sector grow by double digits for the last few years.

We are currently seeing 600,000 visitors a year arriving whiskey tourism and that is forecasted to grow to 800,000 in the medium term according to the Irish Whiskey Association. Dublin is currently the Mecca for Irish whiskey tourism with the Old Jameson Distillery attracting the majority of spirits tourism in the country. Although, in Ireland itself, you would be forgiven in thinking that no-one outside of the industry has noticed a thing. It seems that whilst the industry is going through a renaissance Irish publicans aren’t catching on. City centre pubs still consider a bottle of Jameson original juxtaposed by a bottle of Paddy a “diverse” whiskey selection.

Although, one city that has been taking big steps to rectify that by facilitating whiskey tourists with knowledgable bar staff and decent menus is Galway city.

August 14th, marks the official launch of the “Galway Whiskey Trail”. The trail is a publican lead initiative to promote Galway’s ties with Irish whiskey through education of bar staff, improved bar menus and whiskey events all across Galway. 10 bars and 1 off-licence are directly tied with the trail and they have been busy training their staff on all facets of Irish whiskey for the last couple of months. Those associated with the trail are bolstering their whisk(e)y selections with choice brands from around the world. Don’t worry the big names of Irish whiskey aren’t hogging all the limelight of course. The craft distilleries, such as Glendalough and Hyde whiskey, are also getting their fair amount of shelf space giving the consumer great selection.

Stone plaque presented to each establishment on the trail
Stone plaque presented to each establishment on the trail

The launch is featuring events all across the city, culminating in the official opening of the trail by Master Distiller Brian Nation and Master Distiller Emeritus Barry Crockett. They are visiting every establishment on the trail to initiate each one individually. Each establishment will be presented with a stone plaque that identifies the establishment as a member of the trail.

Don’t be fooled in thinking that the trail is lined up to be a one hint wonder either. With a website about to be launched, it will be listing tastings, talks, pairing events, historical, cultural tie ups all throughout the year with each venue scheduled to host a minimum of two events per year. Advertising will also appear in the airports and hotels across the country, highlighting everything the trail has to offer. My big hope is that there will be a fair bit of invention to mark venues apart so that it won’t just be whatever roadshow rolls in from IDL or Beam Suntory and is claimed as an event. But I have big hopes that this ground up initiative takes flight and fares much better than the long outdated “Irish Whiskey Trail”. Hopefully, since this is a collaborative initiative, the publicans will encourage each other to ensure the trail a big success and draw in a fair percentage of those 800,000 tourists a year. I’ve been assured that several of the pubs have events in the pipeline and new kids on the block ‘An Pucan’ have already confirmed three events before the end of the year.

Barry Crockett and Brian Nation induct An Pucan
Barry Crockett and Brian Nation induct An Pucan whiskey bar.

Already positive side effects can be seen within the city. Bars and restaurants that are not affiliated with the trail are strengthening their whiskey menus in anticipation of the tourism that the trail may bring the city. Its looking like Galway might be on track to be the next big thing in whiskey tourism.

So, I will wait with eager anticipation to see what Galway has to offer in the coming months. Perhaps the trail will become a template for future initiatives promoting Irish whiskey across the country. Who knows perhaps in time we will see a Belfast or midlands trail!? Or better yet, how about a Dublin version?

I’ve got my fingers crossed that this isn’t just a flash in the pan, but only time will tell.


Tullamore DEW ~ An interview with Ambassador Eimear Kelleher

I sat down for a virtual interview with Eimear Kelleher, international graduate brand ambassador for Tullamore DEW, to talk about how the brand is being received in the land of opportunity.

Tullamore DEW which was bought over by Scottish giants William Grant and Son’s in 2010 has had an exciting 12 months. The spirit made its historic return to its home town of Tullamore in county Offaly in September, more than 60 years since the original distillery closed its doors.

William Grant and Sons have spent €35million rebuilding the distillery in its home town. The distillery, with an annual capacity to produce 1.84 million litres, puts Tullamore DEW as one of the largest distilleries in Ireland and very soon we will get to witness what they’ve got up their sleeve rather than what they got from 3rd party sources.

The new Tullamore DEW distillery

So I had a virtual sit down with Eimear to see how the U.S. were receiving some of Ireland’s finest and how the market for Irish whiskey was developing.

As a brand ambassador Eimear has first hand experience with both on and off trade to see how the Irish whiskey market is progressing. As she says herself, there is no typical day for a Tullamore DEW brand ambassador. Officially a brand ambassador’s role is to educate consumers, bartenders and distributors on the range that Tullamore DEW offers. One day she is meeting with a key account the next flying out-of-state to host a whiskey dinner, as she says no tow days are the same.

A tasting in the Tullamore DEW distillery

So what exactly are the consumer trends in the U.S. at the moment?

Eimear explains how there are a lot of popular trends in the U.S. at the moment. From craft beer to small batch bourbon its an interesting place for alcohol right now. Irish whiskey as a market and subsequently Tullamore DEW are both continuously growing. Consumers appear to be fascinated by the whiskey’s heritage, what makes it unique and how versatile it is!

I asked Eimear if the brand finally having a distilling home has made the sales pitch that bit easier and I was interested to learn that it most certainly helps. Eimear explains how it helps to complete the brand image. The idea of bringing the brand back home really resonates with the consumers.

Personally I think this is following the current trends of craft sales. More often than not consumers of the younger generations are buying into the story of the brand’s before they ever try the liquid inside the bottle. I can most certainly see how having a definitive brand home completes the image for the brand, even if consumers wont be trying any distillate from this distillery for a couple of years yet.

With these new trends, is the U.S. moving away from shots culture?

Eimear doesn’t think that the U.S. shots culture will ever go away, or at least not for a while, but consumer interest in the back story and culture behind the product is definitely strong and increasing.

So how do you see the relationship between Tullamore DEW and Jameson?

“Jameson is obviously the big dog in the market,” she explains. “I mean, they are MASSIVE but Tullamore are definitely not going unnoticed. The increasing amount of Irish whiskey brands entering the market is a great thing for the category. While we may have to watch our backs here and there, we’re going from strength to strength as a brand. I mean, you can only stay on top for so long. We’re enjoying being the underdog… for now!”

Photo credit: thewhiskeywash.com
Photo credit: thewhiskeywash.com

So finally, with the success of Phoenix do you think consumers are finding age statements less important than they used to in the U.S.?

So Eimear has been telling me that people LOVE the Phoenix. They can’t get enough of it. Its story definitely captures consumer interest but the liquid alone is enough to hook people. She thinks for people who don’t really know about whiskey, age statements mean a lot. They’re of the assumption that older is better and this is definitely not always the case. She ads that she’d personally take Glenfiddich 15 over 18 any day of the week.

So it seems that Tullamore DEW and Irish whiskey in general is being well received across the pond! Consumer sentiment certainly is shifting in the craft direction across all of the drinks categories. Hopefully the growth for the Irish whiskey sector continues and new innovative releases like cider cask and Phoenix will keep the industry on its toes for the coming years. Big thank you to Eimear Kelleher (@TullamoreEims) for her time and participating in this unusual interview format. I hope to continue a series of these interviews with ambassadors to see how Irish whiskey is holding up the world over. Keep an eye out for those!