Not on the rocks: The resurgence of Irish whiskey

 

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“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”

Cheers to that, Mark Twain.

Never mind the naysayers; everyone from Ireland agrees the Irish were the first to distill whiskey.

And it’s on the rise. A report by the Irish Whiskey Association reveals that whiskey exports bring in €350 million, a rise of more than 200% in the past decade. Irish whiskey brands represent the fastest-growing premium spirit globally and huge investment is planned over coming years.

So, with St Patrick’s Day fast approaching (17 March), why not sideline the Guinness and try one of the new whiskeys?

Whether you prefer an Irish brand or opt for one of the new micro-distilleries popping up across the British Isles, here’s our shout out to the top three exciting distilleries bringing new life to whiskey:

The one for the future: Waterford Distillery, Waterford, Ireland

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An image from one of the live distillery cameras

Image source: Waterford Distillery

With a prime position in the port of Waterford in south east Ireland, the new Waterford Distillery is embarking on the first stages of the distilling process, using its proximity to one of the best barley-growing regions in the world, to produce a profound and complex single malt whiskey.

The aim here is to make true artisan whiskey – and there’s no shortage of great quality raw materials. Owner Mark Reynier is proud of his access to ‘the purest of spring water from renowned ancient wells; a team of passionate distillers that share the vision; and the very best barley in the world’.

The first spirit was run in January but we won’t be able to try it until it’s been aged for a few years in American and French oak casks.

It may be the new kid on the block, but it sounds like it’ll be whiskey worth waiting for.

Best enjoyed in:

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Waterford’s Lismore Connoisseur Whiskey series is the ultimate barware when it comes to Irish whiskey. The design has been created to help you enjoy the colour of a good spirit.

There are decanters, pitchers and tumblers in various shapes – but this straight-sided tumbler is perfect for drinking with simply a splash of water, a dash of soda or an ice cube or two.

 

The Welsh one: Penderyn Distillery, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

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Image source: Penderyn Distillery

Exciting whiskey developments aren’t limited to Ireland. Penderyn village, in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons, is home to a gem of a distillery – the only one currently found in Wales.

Complete with a visitor centre and tasting room, this is a spot where you can happily while away an afternoon. A tour is available (£8.50) or you can dive straight in for a full masterclass and compare whiskeys from all over the world (£45).

The Penderyn Madeira Single Malt is a gold medal award-winning whiskey, matured in bourbon barrels and finished in Madeira casks, although the brand also produces peated and sherry style whiskeys.

It’s worth checking out the website’s whiskey-based cocktails, too. Our favourite? The Cwtch (pictured above; meaning affectionate hug in Welsh) combines Penderyn Madeira with 5ml caramel syrup and 5ml vanilla syrup, stirred – not shaken – and garnished with a cinnamon stick.

 

Best enjoyed in:

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A modern take on the Lismore range, these Lismore Diamond tumblers really sparkle with their intricate diamond cuts.

 

The urban one: The London Distillery Company

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Image source: London Distilling Company

This slick operatives at the Battersea-based London Distilling Company use only ethically-sourced organic ingredients, solar panels and a heat recovery system to counteract intensive energy use.

They even enlist local bakeries to use the spent grain – aiming for the least waste possible. The first London distillery to open in more a century, it boasts two showstopping copper stills, one for whiskey and one for gin – affectionately named Matilda and Christina.

Like the Waterford Distillery, it’s early days for London Distilling Company’s whiskey, but the team offers the opportunity to create your own, bespoke spirits – you can even drop in and lend a hand in the process yourself.

Best enjoyed in:

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Take a new world approach to your new world whiskey with the Waterford Mixology tumblers in talon red, neon lime green, circon purple and argon blue.

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ELEGANCE WINE GLASS PINOT GRIGIO (SET OF 2)

Fine wine and quality spirits can only be fully and truly appreciated when experienced in the proper vessel. This pair of Elegance glasses by Waterford, the expert of crystal stemware, are designed to enhance the fruity and soft floral flavours of a refreshing and smooth Pinot Grigio. Each hand crafted and lead free crystal stem is uniquely contemporary in design and deportment, with a clean delicate bowl, striking deep V plunge, crisp rim, pulled stem and flawlessly modern profile. The Waterford Elegance collection of stemware and barware is perfect for elegant entertaining transforming any event into a special occasion. A simply perfect gift for a wine connoisseur.

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