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Issue 70 - The emerald isle

Whisky Magazine Issue 70
February 2008


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The emerald isle

Once rich in distilleries, Ireland has few left and only one permits visitors. So whisky tourists have to work domainly with museums. Great country to do it though.

No matter how much you might love Irish whiskey, there's no escaping the fact there is a palpable sadness over the whiskey industry there.

With the exception of Jameson, an increasingly cosmopolitan whiskey and a major world success story, little Irish whiskey crosses its borders.Great Irish brands such as Paddy and Powers are largely shunned by the younger generation, and fine pot still whiskeys such as Redbreast and Green Spot are known only to whiskey enthusiasts, mainly outside Ireland itself.

It's partly to do with the fact that Irish distilleries are closed to the public.While Scotland is buzzing and whisky tourism grows year on year, south of the Irish border the nearest you'll get to Irish whiskey production is a limited amount of distillation of low wines brewed and first distilled elsewhere on the site of a distillery museum.Neither Irish Distillers at its large and awesome Midleton distillery nor Cooley operating on the Irish border on Ireland's east coast, accommodate tourists.

It's as if whiskey got left behind with the old Ireland that is being swept aside by the country's new found wealth.And indeed,a once fertile nation of whiskey making would seem to have been reduced to a few closed distlleries.No matter that Midleton is growing as never before and that Cooley,now in its 20th year, is offering a varied and stimulating selection of whiskey brands.

It's a matter of perception, you see.Much of what's good about Ireland's whiskey future is hidden from sight....

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