Whisky Magazine Issue 49
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The Byrne family has been selling whisky for generations. Richard Jones looks at the Lancashire-based business
Whisky isn't just a passion for the Byrne family of D Byrne & Co, Clitheroe, Lancashire, it's in their genes.
Andrew Byrne is the fourth generation in a family firm that's been around for the best part of 126 years and, when I visited him recently, he proudly showed me a clipping from a 1999 edition of Whisky Magazine. In it, his son Joe Byrne, then just 13 years of age, came second only to his dad in a nosing (note: nosing not drinking!) competition held at the Islay Festival.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Joe Byrne has recently decided to abandon his sixth form studies to join his father in the family trade.
“Although we're best known for our wine, whisky has always been extremely important to us,” Andrew Byrne begins.
“Our original business was grocery, delivering to all the farms in the Ribble Valley on horse and cart, but we began to specialise in wine and spirits around 25 years ago.
“We developed a reputation for stocking every wine and spirit that you could get, however weird and wonderful – today we have a range of over 300 different whiskies covering just about everything there is.” Although Clitheroe isn't the easiest place to get to, a visit to the Byrnes' shop on the main high street is always a memorable experience. This is the wine and spirit merchants that time forgot – think Ronnie Barker in Open All Hours with stripped wooden floors, a huge oak counter and shelves to the ceiling, alongside an original arched cellar full of nooks, crannies, cases...