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Issue 9 - Variety performance

Whisky Magazine Issue 9
April 2000


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Variety performance

Irish Whiskey is entering a golden age hanks to the efforts of entrepreneurs such as Mark Andrews, Gary Regan met this king of Knappogue Castle.

There's a whisky for every mood, or rather there is a Scotch or bourbon one. But Irish whiskeys ... well the choice is more limited. Or rather it was, until such enterprising chaps as Mark Andrews, president of Great Spirits, a company based in Houston, Texas, came along.

Andrews' passion for Irish whiskey was passed on to him from his father, Mark Edwin Andrews, who travelled to Ireland from his native Houston in the 1930s. He fell in love with the country and eventually developed an obsession for tracking down Irish whiskeys unavailable in the US. And along the way, he bought himself a castle.

Knappogue Castle, in County Clare, was in ruins when Andrews senior first found it, but he knew the answer: his wife, Lavoné Andrews, was a prominent architect, indeed one of the best known of her time. After returning the castle to its former glory, she was awarded the Irish An Taisce award for the best architectural restoration of an historic Irish building. That done the Andrews turned to restoration of a different kind on the whiskey front.

Mark Andrews recalls his father watching with interest as single malts from Scotland became more and more popular in America.

“He couldn't understand why the distilleries in Ireland, which produced such wonderful single malts and pure pot-still Irish whiskeys, didn't jump on the bandwagon. Instead, for reasons that were not completely clear to him, they chose to use their finest spirits as components of their blended brands rather...

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