Irish whiskey“where it all started”Ireland is a land where time and character go hand in hand. Nobody can talk for longabout Europe’s drinks heritage without mentioning the monastic tradition thatunderwrote it. And, most would agree, it is impossible to mention this tradition withoutconsidering the special role Irish monks played in it. Ireland has inherited the art ofdistillation from the technique brought by Christian monks in their travels in the MiddleEast. Ireland’s living drinks tradition, born when those enterprising monks set up theworld’s first distilleries dated back to the sixth century. The beautiful, sinuous pot still(which is what the Arabic alembic morphed into in Ireland) spread across the continentand became the foundation technology which made vodka, gin and brandy possible.Whiskey, then, is not just the ‘water of life’ as it was originally christened but Europe’smother spirit.The different phases of Irish emigration across the world resulted in opening up theworld whiskey market. Despite this, when Ireland left the United Kingdom it lost theaccess to the Commonwealth market and the USA Prohibition in the 30’s, lead to a sharpdecline in Irish whiskey sales. In the 70s, a large number of distilleries were closed. Butthe consistency and effort a few diehards have allowed the development of legendarybrands and the Irish whiskey category is the spirits with the strongest growth rate in theworld past ten years with over 57 million bottles sold per year !Whiskey ingredients“The three Ts”Its ingredients could hardly be simpler, barley and water, but the end result is full of thelife-enhancing complexities, subtle variations and meadow and heather flavours thatdelight connoisseurs to this day. Each Irish distillery has its own secrets but all can be saidto depend on the three Ts: Technique, Timber and Time. Whiskey, refreshingly, cannotbe hurried and one of the most important roles of a distillery is its simplest: to be astorehouse where aged oak cask rest and breathe.
Irish whiskey todayToday, after a century of fierce competition from its Celtic sister and American bourbons,Irish whiskey is finally reasserting itself. It is a tribute to the complexity of whiskey thatit is differentiated by its country of origin to a degree no other spirit is. The distinguishingmark of Irish whiskey is that its barley is dried in smokeless kilns and triple distilled andthe differences are easily noted on the palate. Having spent much of the 20th centuryon the sidelines, the new energy and pride in Irish whiskey has brought about a hugerevamp in its fortunes since the early 1990s. Today, Ireland’s top whiskey brands rateamong the best performing and most highly regarded in the global spirits industry.Around the country, old distilleries have been reopened and some almost forgottenvarieties and techniques revived. Today, a new generation is discovering the secrets ofthis golden liquid, born of Ireland’s golden age, and savouring complex mellow taste ofthe eternal Irish countryside.Irish whiskey has been the fastest growing brown spirit category for the past 10 yearsand continues to grow by over 10% per annum. The worldwide sales of Irish whiskeystand at approx. 4.5 million 9 litre cases.Irish Cream LiqueursIt is also in Ireland that the first brand of cream liqueur, the meeting between thecenturies-old whiskey and cream was developed. The most famous Irish cream brand waslaunched in Ireland in 1974 and since then many other cream liqueur brands have beenmarketed all over the world. The mix of cream and Irish spirits has been a very populardrink and the category is one of the leading areas with the international spirits industry.As well the original flavoured creams, several flavour extensions e.g. mint, coffee etchave been launched and have gained popularity. Several Irish cream liqueur manufacturers are also important suppliers of private label Irish cream liqueurs to international retailers and supply customers with products designed and developed to their specific requirements. Irish beers and ciders Ireland is also a land of brewers. As well as the world famous dark beer, several microbreweries are now well established in Ireland. These small to medium sized companies breweries produce a range of craft beers and ales and appeal to the growing market of consumers who are looking for something different and products that are artisan and produced in small batches. These products are available on draught and bottles in selected pubs and shops in Ireland and in export markets. Cider is amongst the oldest beverages known to man and is primarily derived from the fermentation of apples.Irish cider is made from traditional methods and is now established as a successfulcategory of the alcoholic drinks industry. Irish cider is also growing in popularity and isgaining sales and recognition in international markets such as the US, UK and Australia.As well as leading international branded cider that is available in both apple and pearbased variants, several other ciders are now coming on to the market from small Irishartisan manufacturers..
Sláinte All these popular drinks are enjoyed in the 7176 pubs found in the Republic of Ireland (for a little over 4 million people!), symbols of the Irish conviviality Irish pubs have spread throughout the world, As we say in Gaelic, Sláinte!BORD BIA Contact:Embassy of Ireland - Hovslagargatan 5 - 11148 Stockholm - Sweden Nicolas RanningerTel: +46 8 54 50 40 58 Nordic Market Managerwww.twitter.com/bordbia firstname.lastname@example.org/bordbiawww.bordbia.ie