Monday 19 March 2012

Irish whiskey shorts

Happy St Patrick's Day!

A little late, I know, but we are still kicking back in Ireland. St Patrick's Day is a national holiday but it fell on a Saturday this year so we get the Monday off work instead. Feel free, therefore, to enjoy another glass of whiskey this evening. It is officially sanctioned.

Beam to be acquired?

The Sunday Business Post reported a rumour from Britain that both Diageo and Pernod Ricard are eyeing up Beam. It's not all that surprising though; the story of the drinks industry is one of consolidation and growth by acquisition. I proposed exactly this scenario when Beam acquired Cooley a few months back.

With both Pernod and Diageo already major players in Irish whiskey, the Irish and European authorities will want to ensure that a competitive market is preserved. That could put Cooley back in play again.

Pernod has only recently said it has no gaps in its drinks portfolio and its appetite for debt might be reduced as it continues to digest Vin & Sprit, bought in 2008 for €5.7bn.

Whiskey events in Dublin

The Irish Whiskey Society's tastings so far this year have all sold out early so no tickets remain for the Powers evening later this month. I believe the April theme will be Japan so keep April 26th free if that appeals.

There is a charity whiskey tasting at Against the Grain on April 5th. It's organised by Zoltan Vari, leading light at the society, host of the upcoming Japan evening and expert on all things whiskey. Guaranteed to be great, in other words.

The Celtic Whiskey Shop continues its whiskey tastings on April 12th with Scottish whisky. Tickets are €20. Contact the shop for booking / details.

Traditional Irish Medicine (TIM)

A Hot Whiskey is the standard cold cure (or preventative measure) in Ireland. Greatist website also proposes whiskey to relieve a sore throat. An old New York Times article dismissed whiskey for toothache but they have that wrong. Sure, it won't cure the problem but it definitely offers respite from the pain.

(That's "TIM" à la "TCM", or Traditional Chinese Medicine, by the way. We have a trade imbalance with TCM at the moment. Support TIM!)

Speaking of Tim...

One of the faces of Irish whiskey in the US is Tim Herlihy, brand ambassador for Tullamore Dew. You can follow Tim's adventures all over America via Twitter. If you fancy the idea of representing Irish industry abroad, Tim offers tips for breaking into the career in an Irish Times article.

And sure while you are on Twitter, you should also follow famed Global Brand Ambassador for Cooley, John Cashman, who, besides bringing you around the world with him, will also keep you updated on the contents of his hip flask at rugby internationals!

Speaking of China...

China's Vice President (and presumed next President), Xi Jinping, was in Ireland recently. He visited a farmhouse in Clare where he was given an Irish Coffee. It's not recorded if he liked it but neither coffee, cream nor whiskey would be typically familiar flavours for a Chinese person of his generation. Hang on, I have an idea...

I have just added a nip of Powers whiskey to a hot cup of green tea. Say, this is good! I've just invented the Irish Tea™! This we could market to China, I am sure.

1661 Poitín is a go

Ashlee Casserly got her Kickstarter funding for the 1661 Poitín venture I covered here a few weeks ago. Congratulations, Ashlee! The Kickstarter site is still being updated with progress reports and, of course, if I hear anything I'll report it here too.

WhiskyCast comes to Dublin

Mark Gillespie, of the excellent WhiskyCast podcast, was in Dublin this weekend. You can catch the latest Irish-themed episode on the WhiskyCast site. I haven't had a chance to listen myself yet but I see David Byrne and Liam Donegan from Irish Distillers are participating so it's bound to be enlightening.

Around the web

The Concannon winery launched a website dedicated to their recently-launched Irish whiskey. I'm still looking forward to a taste of that.

Cool Hunting visited Ireland and got the behind-the-scenes tour of the Midleton Distillery. They also called out some of the hip spots in Dublin I mentioned here weeks ago, namely Indigo & Cloth and Clement & Pekoe. Clearly we are riding the bleeding edge of cool on this blog. If we can just avoid the banjo music...

Did someone say "banjo"?

This was a long post but I hope I can still sneak in some music. Since it's St Patrick's weekend, let's keep it Irish.

I discovered this amazing live solo banjo "bootleg" recording on YouTube from Gerry O'Connor. It's called "Funk the Cajun Blues".

You can hear a studio version of that on Gerry's MySpace site. In my humble opinion, however, the arrangement dissipates the funky edge you can hear in the pure banjo above. I'd like to hear Irish Gerry get together with his American "cousin" Mark to see what happens: