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Issue 90 - Leading the revolution

Whisky Magazine Issue 90
September 2010


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Leading the revolution

Iorweth Griffiths meets the man who helped Irish Whisky in to the limelight.

Dr Barry Walsh has been a central figure in the development of Irish whiskey and a big part of the reason it has reached where it is today – growing, both in sales and appreciation.

He worked for Irish Distillers for nearly thirty years, mainly as master blender, and still plays a role in Irish whiskey to this day as a consultant. He is also deservedly a winner of Whisky Magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award.

During his career he played a part in Irish whiskey's move from being a mainly struggling domestically focussed industry to being the growing, export-led category it is today with Jameson as the undisputed brand leader.

Barry Walsh began working for Irish Distillers in 1974 as assistant flavour chemist. Prior to this he had a university background in science culminating in a Doctorate in Agricultural Botany.

His appointment began in earnest in January 1975 at the Irish Distillers Central Laboratory in Thomas Street, Dublin.

This was then in the Power's Distillery which had merged with the other remaining family concerns in 1966 to create Irish Distillers.

His job was to research maturation. The company knew little about this subject and their whiskey was stored in a number of rented warehouses around Dublin, Cork and at Bushmills; the latter had come into the Irish Distillers Group in 1972.

He went round these warehouses measuring humidity, temperature and dipping casks to check the losses. It also involved “opening casks, taking samples and bringing them back...

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