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"Give an Irishman lager for a month, and he's a dead man. An Irishman is lined with copper, and the beer corrodes it. But whiskey polishes the copper and is the saving of him." Mark Twain, Life On The Mississippi
It means that the shelves at the Celtic Whiskey Shop are heaving with whiskey brands. There’s something there for the connoisseur who likes characterful pot still and single malt whiskey and something too for those who prefer to mix it up with cocktails.Irish whiskey is an extraordinarily versatile spirit of consistently high quality.
All this from a low point in the 1970s and 1980s, when the sector was a barren landscape, with only two distilleries operating on the island. Bad luck, bad planning, American prohibition and independence from Britain conspired to close distillery after distillery after distillery. It was a far cry from the peak of Irish whiskey’s popularity in the Victorian era,when spirit flowed out of the country’s cities and towns on an industrial scale.Back then, it was the drink of choice of the British Empire and beyond.
Thankfully, a few distilleries kept the flame alive. In the 1970s, Powers, Jameson and Cork Distillers consolidated in a distillery in Midleton to produce the traditional pure pot still whiskey under the IDL flag, and Bushmills to the north joined the partnership with their triple-distilled malt. Entrepreneur John Teeling saw an opportunity and broadened the spectrum further with a double-distilled malt, peated and unpeated, as well as single grain whiskey.
Irish whiskey is once again on an upward curve, producing whiskey of real quality, versatility and consistency. And with more and more producers and bottlers coming on board, the sector is set for a new golden age.