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9th January 2019 The Irish Whiskey Revolution
Author : John Fleming

Have a read of our recent feature in Joe.ie Learn more about the Irish Whiskey Revolution and what are the key causes of this surge.

In the past few years, craft beers and gins have seen a huge upswing in the Irish market. While traditional Irish pubs and off-licences would have once only stocked a relatively small selection, people are now looking for something new to enjoy.

According to John Fleming of Carry Out Off Licence in Killarney, our whiskey expert, Irish whiskey is experiencing a similar revolution.

“In 2007, we had four distilleries in Ireland. We’re in 2018 now, and we have 19 operating distilleries. Possibly, I think 26 coming along next year,” John said.

Jameson is still rightly the most popular choice for people looking to buy a Christmas present, but there is an increasing demand for something different. There may not be one whiskey that suits every taste, but he said that we now have a broader range than ever to choose from.

“In Carry Out, we have a range for everybody. We had Jameson last weekend down to €20, back up to €24.99 so it’s still €5 off a bottle. We also have Green Spot. It’s down to €55 on promotion from €70,” he said.

The increase in demand means that more companies are creating whiskeys to suit just about any budget.

John’s own pick this Christmas is the Redbreast 12-Year-Old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, which is made only 100km away from his off-licence. Available now as part of the Carry Out Christmas offers for €59.99, he said it’s a quality whiskey that could make for a perfect Christmas gift.

“My tipple for my father on Christmas day will be the Redbreast 12-Year-Old. At €59.99 I think it’s a fantastic whiskey,” he said.

“95% of the spirits made in this country are drank elsewhere”

The Kingdom of County Kerry has been leading the way, and he said there is no sign of that changing any time soon.

“I think Dingle were the start of it and were the original guys. That’s five or six years ago, they seemed to just get in at the right time. The Dingle Batch 3 was, last year, world’s best new Irish whiskey,” he said.

“In Killarney alone, next year there’s possibly going to be three distilleries. The Killarney Brewing Company are opening up Killarney Distillery Company, and this week they just released their new gin, and they’re hoping to have a whiskey on the market next year,” he said.

They aren’t just being kept on Irish shores either, as there is a huge demand for it internationally.

“You know, 95% of the spirits made in this country are drank elsewhere,” he said.

While some may recommend you should only drink whiskey a certain way, John feels it should be more relaxed.

“People can drink whiskey any way they want. They can drink it with ice, with water, with Coke, with coffee. Irish coffees are really coming back in vogue,” he said.

Irish whiskey vs Scotch

The obvious competitor for Irish whiskeys is Scotch, and he says the Scottish are still top of the class. That said, our local distilleries are producing spirits that often match Scotch in terms of quality and flavour.

“Have they (Irish whiskeys) got the quality of the Scottish? 100%. Are they fetching as much at market? Not yet,” he said.

The unique challenge of bringing out a new whiskey is the long wait for their product to even be labelled as such. It takes three years and one day for it to even pass the threshold, so there’s always a long wait to get a new product out there.

“The guys at the moment, they’re ageing their whiskey, they’re doing it right in Waterford Distillery. There’s huge talk about them at the moment. They’re not actually going to start bottling until about 2020,” he said.

Much like we’ve seen with the huge increase in Irish gins and beers, John said the Irish whiskey market is only going to grow in the coming years.

“It’s very exciting at the moment,” he said.

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