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Issue 106 - Ask the Expert

Whisky Magazine Issue 106
September 2012


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Ask the Expert

A friend has this interesting bottle of Burke's Whiskey by E&J Burke, Dublin he got through a family member, from the Canadian prairies. Could you shed any light on this item regarding its age and the original contents?
S Tse by email

This decanter would have contained blended whiskey (mostly but not necessarily all of it distilled in Ireland) and it was filled by a Dublin firm of blenders, bottlers and exporters registered under the name of Edward & John Burke. The company was founded in 1849 by the nephews of the second Arthur Guinness and became a limited company in 1890. In the late 19th century, it was recorded as being the largest customer of Highland Park outside of Scotland. Companies like E&J Burke Limited would buy pot still and patent or grain whiskey from distillers and then produce their blends within their own bonded warehouses. This was commonplace in Ireland with smaller scale operations including publicans buying casks to make their own proprietary brands looking to satisfy customers' tastes by aiming for a consistent flavour.

Blends began to seriously challenge Irish pot still whiskey in the final decades of the 19th century and they were to dominate the market over pure pot still whiskey from then on (even if we're enjoying a current resurgence in Irish pot still whiskey at present). E&J Burke's export business relocated from Dublin to Liverpool in the early 1920s and whisky was bottled there. Certainly, examples of moulded waisted glass decanters exist ...

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