The brand overhaul was precipitated by a strategic review which commenced in April 2020, in which Walsh Whiskey was assisted by Bord Bia’s (The Irish Food Board) specialist ‘insight centre’, The Thinking House. Meanwhile, the extensive design project was undertaken by London design agency HERE.
The most striking change in The Irishman rebrand is the introduction of a tall, tapered bottle with broad ‘shoulders’ and a cork seal. A series of embossed phrases around the lower part of the bottle affirm The Irishman’s aim to “pursue a lifelong journey in search of the perfect dram/taoscán of single malt, while respecting past traditions and with ambition for future possibilities”.
Other new design features include a new brand icon combining a capital 'I' with barrel staves, and a new colour palette of understated cream, green, grey, blue and burgundy.
Notable features of the new labels are the inclusion of braille for the visually impaired, as well as the provision of nutritional and calorific information e-labels. The braille is partly a personal tribute by Bernard Walsh to the memory of his own grandfather, Jack Walsh, whose loss of vision made a lasting impression on his grandson.
E-labeling is part of an EU initiative to ensure consumers have access to more information about their food and drink products. Walsh Whiskey is an early adopter of e-labels, having participated in a pilot study organised by spiritsEUROPE (the European representative body for spirits companies) and CEEV (the representative body for wine companies).
There are also changes to the composition of the range, with a change of name for one core expression and the addition of a limited edition to the core of the portfolio. The Founder’s Reserve blend (100% Irish barley; 70% single malt & 30% pot still) has been renamed The Harvest in honour of the farming community's contribution to the whiskey-making process. Meanwhile, The Irishman Caribbean Cask has been added to the portfolio’s core expressions, having been released as a limited-edition bottling in 2018.
Walsh Whiskey founder, Bernard Walsh, said, “As the Irish whiskey category continues to develop with increasing variety, it is important that we are clear in our proposition to whiskey consumers. Our message is simple: The Irishman will always be single malt focused – whether championed in pure expressions or blends – and it will always be triple distilled to leave a lasting impression.
“We respect and honour Ireland’s great distilling heritage, while also exploring exciting new innovations through the use of rare and unusual woods and finishes, as well as cereal varieties, to influence the single malt spirit. To date this has seen us work with Florio Marsala, oloroso sherry, Caribbean rum and Irish peated red ale. In the generational pursuit of whiskey excellence, our quest for the perfect dram, or taoscán [tay-scawn] of single malt, is just beginning.”
The rebrand of The Irishman has commenced in Ireland (including Dublin Airport), and will be rolled out across Europe and Canada from April onwards, the United States in the summer, and the rest of the world in the second half of 2022.