In the 1960’s Irish whiskey almost died. Now it’s only a matter of time before it overtakes Scotch.
Saints and Scholars features a map of the liberties to show the major Irish Whiskey’s of the Golden Age.
The golden triangle was what we now call The Liberties. Back then, it was a global powerhouse, where brands like Jameson, Powers and George Roe (for which Roe & Co is named) were initially located.
It was faced with potential extinction prior to a major cash infusion. Come to our Pub to learn more about the history and try some of our awesome Whiskey’s. Now there is a whiskey revolution in Ireland. With that there is also a Gin revolution as it takes 3 years to age in a barrel to be an Irish Whiskey, therefore in the meantime they distill Gin. With that there are now so many amazing Irish Gin’s available in the marketplace and featured at Saints and Scholars.
These days Irish whiskey is at the centre of the world stage. It’s the fastest-growing spirit globally, and sales are expected to keep on increasing by so much it’s poised to overtake Scotch as the most sold spirit in America. Back in the second half of the 19th century, Irish whiskey was the top whiskey category in the world. And production peaked at an estimated 12 million cases from 88 licensed distilleries. During this ‘golden age’, whiskey was a thriving Business employing hundreds of people in the golden triangle alone.
The missed opportunity to adopt the Irish invented column still, prohibition in the United States and our own War of Independence amounted to a series of unfortunate events that systematically dismantled the Irish whiskey industry in the 1900s. Slowly Irish whiskey distilleries started to close. Then, suddenly, there were only four distilleries left in the whole of Ireland, and they were all floundering.
The cash injection
In the late seventies, Irish Distillers was bought by French drinks Giant Pernod Richard. This is probably the single biggest reason for the rebirth of Irish whiskey. Because with this takeover came a massive ingestion of cash dollah. The new French overlords focused most of their marketing strategy on Jameson. Rumour has it Jameson was chosen because it was in a green bottle. With the colour green already being stereotyped as Ireland’s colour, it made it easy to get Irish Americans to back the brand.
The iconic brand was transformed into a more approachable whiskey by blending with column spirit to ensnare new customers. Coming up with a product that was easy to drink, smooth, and iconically Irish was a stroke of genius. What they did was offer an accessible counterpart to the more challenging Scotch whiskies, especially for younger or inexperienced drinkers. As a result, Jameson became synonymous with the craic of an Irish pub. To this day, Jameson is an easily mixable product, far from complexity and ‘seriousness’ that then and even still is associated with Scotch. This roundabout way triggered the revival because it is undeniable that interest in Irish whiskey has been ‘revived’ in the decades since.
Whiskey went from an old man’s drink to the must collect thing somewhere around 2012. Or at least it started in 2012 with the selling of Cooley Distillery and the founding of Teelings spawning the ‘resurgence’ or ‘revival’ of the industry. The Teelings emblem of a phoenix rising is an apt summation of this era of revival. It not only symbolizes the rebirth of Teelings as a distillery but emphasizes the ‘rebirth’ of the industry as a whole.
2012 also saw the founding of Pearce Lyons whiskey. In the same year, Powers upgraded by adding two single Pot still whiskeys; Powers John’s Lane (a whiskey that slaps every. Single. Time) and Powers Signature Release. Paddy also released a single pot still whiskey in 2013 to celebrate the brand’s centenary.In 1988 Jameson sold less than half a million cases worldwide; by 2012, this number had increased eightfold to reach four million cases. The rapid and consistent growth meant whiskey had gone beyond this rebirth stage. It’s this time of strength and growth that kicked off the renaissance.
Like the Italian Renaissance, our whiskey was spurred on by establishing what was lost in the dark ages. Old brands that had died were reinvigorated. Not just by big wigs like IDL but by smaller indie producers such as Belfast’s Dunvilles and Echlinville Distillery.
What best encapsulates the renaissance era is one specific whiskey style—Single Pot Still(SPS). Considered by many as the quintessential Irish whiskey. SPS whiskey offers a complex and exciting alternative to Scotch single malt. It also testifies of solid expertise and craftsmanship among Irish distillers. In addition, legacy SPS such as Redbreast and Green Spot helped bring back the respectability some say was lost by the marketing Irish whiskey as smooth and approachable.