The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2015

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Page 26 of 116

26  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2015 SCOTCH REPORT A s I noted last issue, Scotch whisky has suddenly—and unexpectedly—hit turbulent times. Exports were off 11% in the first half year of 2014 and little improve- ment was seen by the third quarter, with a slated cumulative 8.6% drop. Some major players have been hard hit, Diageo's total North American business falling by 2% with U.S. Johnnie Walker sales down 14% in the company's most recent half-year reporting. So it's more than pleasant to turn to Irish whiskey, where the outlook seems distinctly brighter with a steady stream of good news: New releases, distillery expansions and openings are the order of the day. Irish Distillers (home to Jameson and an expanding range of pot still whiskeys) have come up with something new— maturation in virgin Irish oak. Skilled coopers have turned a venerable 130-year-old oak from the Ballaghtobin Estate in County Kilkenny into hogshead casks for maturation at The Midleton Distillery, creating the latest member of the single pot still Irish whiskey family. Just a few years ago this pot still category was all but dead and buried, but today is typified by innovation and fresh thinking. And we will certainly see fresh thinking from Mark Reynier, formerly of Bruichladdich who recently purchased the old Guinness plant in Waterford with ambitious plans to create a new Irish whiskey distillery there. He will make around three million liters of single malt and pot still styles annually and, perhaps controversially, says: "It gives me the opportunity to create a significant Irish whiskey brand with a whole lot of extra credibility that sometimes is missing from big companies." He is not alone. New, handcrafted copper pot stills have arrived at the new Teeling Whiskey Company distillery the first new distillery in Dublin in over 125 years, marking a milestone for the Teeling family, as they bring whiskey production back to their ancestral roots in the city. The new facility will have the capacity to produce 500,000 lit- ers of whiskey annually. Jack Teeling, ex-Cooley, and founder and Managing Director of the Teeling Whiskey Company, commented: "We are extremely proud to be returning to our ancestral distilling roots and bringing whiskey distillation back to Dublin. We look forward to the first spirit flowing from our new stills and opening our doors to the public to come see a real Dublin distillery in operation in 2015." Others are already in production, with spirit flowing at William Grant & Sons' Tullamore D.E.W. distillery. The brand recently received TV support with their award-winning "Parting Glass" video airing through March 2015 on multiple premium cable channels including AMC, ESPN, Comedy Central, FX, ESPN 2 and Esquire. But while the industry moves forward with confidence, I'm delighted to see that its long heritage is still honored with the opening of the Irish Whiskey Museum. Located across from Trinity College, the museum is one of the most centrally located tourist attractions in Dublin, and is the only Irish whiskey museum in the world. Though an independent initiative, distillers such as Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Bushmills, Tullamore D.E.W. and Teeling have endorsed the project. The hope is to not only educate the public on Irish whis- key's history, but to promote an understanding and apprecia- tion for something that is, unmistakably, Irish. Ireland on the Rise AS SCOTCH STUMBLES, IRISH WHISKEY'S OUTLOOK IS BRIGHT by Ian Buxton The new Tullamore Distillery. A pot still at the Teeling Whiskey distillery. The Victorian Bar at the Irish Whiskey Museum, located in Dublin. The new Waterford Distillery. PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLIAM GRANT & SONS PHOTO COURTESY OF TEELING WHISKEY COMPANY PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK REYNIER PHOTO COURTESY OF THE IRISH WHISKEY MUSEUM

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