Whisky Magazine Issue 32
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Peter Mulryan talks to Dave Phelan and Pat Rigney, the men who broke the mould producing a charcoal-mellowed Irish whiskey, Clontarf
Last summer, I was in one of the most popular pubs in the middle of ultra hip west Cork. It was a Wednesday afternoon (whisky writers don't have real jobs), and I was leaning on the bar that, over the previous few months, had been leaned on by Liam Neeson, Quentin Tarantino and Jeremy Irons, when in walked a couple of tourists. I knew they were tourists because they were clutching one of the 800,000 copies that have made McCarthy's Bar an international bestseller, and, yes, the pub also features in that book.
They pushed in beside me and asked the young barman for two whiskeys, Irish whiskeys, two really good Irish whiskeys; “the kind you can't get in England,” the man added hopefully.
Now this is a really good question, and I have used a similar one to devastating effect in numerous bars across Scotland.
But back in this picture-postcard pub, the barman just blinked a couple of times. They might as well have asked for a two-headed turtle. In the end he gave them a Jameson, though for a moment I think he seriously considered Teacher's.
It's eight months later, and I am sitting in the boardroom of Roaring Water Bay Spirits in the heart of Dublin, telling owners Dave Phelan and Pat Rigney this story. It obviously touches a cord, as Dave slams his fists on the table.
“That's my point!” He exclaims.
“Every time I open The Irish Times and glance at the obituary column, I see another dead whiskey drinker.”
Dave is not a man to mince his words. “If we don't get...