Irish Whiskey Tries to Dodge Cross-hairs as US Cleared to Impose Tariffs on $7.5bn of EU Goods

As many as you will know, the Trump administration and the European Union have been in a series of disputes over trade relations and anti-competition practices on both sides of the Atlantic, which has led to the EU and the US coming head to head in a retaliatory tariff stand off that has seen US Whiskeys hit with increased tariffs in the EU and Irish Whiskey firmly in the cross-hairs of the US’ next set of tariffs. Continue reading “Irish Whiskey Tries to Dodge Cross-hairs as US Cleared to Impose Tariffs on $7.5bn of EU Goods”

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.

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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.

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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! 

New Green Spot on the horizon

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So summer is in the air and as is a brand new release from Irish Distillers and Mitchell and Sons! Green Spot finished in Bordeaux wine casks! Supposedly chosen due to their long history with the Irish, the Chateau Leoville Barton! 

(check out the background info on Barton here http://www.donnybrookfair.ie/files/pdf/history_of_barton_guestier.pdf)

The launch of this new Green Spot will be approx. June 2/3rd this year in Bordeaux. Extremely exciting for fans of Irish whiskey not only because of the new flavours that will be presented with the traditional pot still spices but the fact that IDL generally don’t release special finish bottlings, rather preferring to release entirely new lines instead. This in itself will make for some exciting news, keeping an eye to see if IDL have opened their doors to new innovations, something which will hopefully become abundant as this Irish whiskey renaissance matures. 

The word on the street is that this is targeted at the U.S. market but it has already been spotted in catelogues for the French market so hopefully we will see these lining our shelves in Europe mid June as well. 

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I don’t know about you but I am extremely excited to see exactly what this tastes like myself but for now I will have to make due with just the tasting notes! 

Nose: French oak, crispy woodland notes which lend themselves to the spicy pot still character. The wine seasoning brings a delicate touch of floral perfume and ripe berries such as raspberries and strawberries, they are in addition to the orchard fruits of the traditional green spot flavours.

Palate: the familiar mouth coating effect is a very satisfying balance of oak and spices. Some vanilla sweetness works in harmony with the dry wine influence, while the fresh orchard fruits and French oak combine effortlessly with the barley grains to complete the complexity.

Finish: the rich French oak character is slow to fade leaving the wine and spices of France and Ireland with the last word.

Why it’s time to buy Irish Whiskey!

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Whiskey fans in the US, it’s time to buy Irish Whiskey.

With the recently announced Quantitative Easing plan announced my Mario Dragi in the European Central Bank €60 billion euro in assets are going to be purchased by the ECB and National Central Banks, each month until September 2016.
A big side effect of QE is with all this virtual money printing going on in the EU the Euro is steadily devaluing against foreign currencies. If we look at the US$ versus the Euro we’re almost seeing parity for (almost) the first time since Bush junior took power!

Enough with the Economics I suppose! 
What does this mean for us whiskey enthusiasts out there?

In Europe (I am referring to the Euro Zone as Europe for the remainder of this article) it means that we’re gonna start buying a lot of home grown whiskeys (not always a bad thing but I miss good dram of Pappy).
In the US its time to buy European whiskeys! Irish of course being the best on offer…. but I could just be biased!

**I’m actively excluding the UK from this article since their higher exchange rate has made it a good time to buy anything European for a while and with such close political and trade ties their exchange rate isn’t as effected as somewhere like the United States.
With the strength of the Euro depleting the consumers of the US are going to get more bang for their buck with European products! Whiskey fans in the states should be noticing a difference both in store and online. If not right now in store, very soon. This should only become more noticeable as we slip into parity. Now I can’t speak for the sneaky shop keepers who might keep the prices up (shakes fist) but its always worth an ask with your local and see what its like states side! I’d love to know what ye find!

Irish whiskey has a lot to offer so if you are stateside Irish whiskey has a lot to offer and places like the Celtic whiskey shop are happy to ship to our US whiskey fans!

With the current boom in Irish whiskey I can only see this QE as a fantastic catalyst for growth for the entire industry. With it in its infancy this new found affordability could be the first rung on the ladder to Irish whiskey reclaiming it’s place on the top of the whiskey world! We can hope I suppose! A the very least this should allow distillers in Ireland drastically grow the piece of mind and share of market in a country that is looking for quality and affordability in it’s whiskey!
I know many whiskey fans from the states who can’t wait for the price drops to reach their watering holes and are already picking up hard to find european whiskeys online and getting them shipped! Yes it still works out cheaper on the whole! Might be worth checking out!

So enjoy and keep an eye on those ever changing exchange rates cause while they’re low now there’s definitely wiggle room for the Euro to fall further and those of you in Dollar land can rake in the savings us Euro heads have been reaping for years!

TL;DR: Euro is weak, time to buy European whiskey.