1500 years of Irish whiskey in 300 words

Dingle Distillery

I’ve never asked a Scotsman this question, but did you know the Irish invented whiskey? As far as earliest records go, Irish missionary monks discovered the skill of distillation on their travels. They put these new skills to the test when they got back to the Emerald Isle and gave us Irish Whiskey which we still thank them for when we pray to them.

Irish whiskey was very famous throughout the world for a long time, enjoying much success around the globe in the 16,17,18 and 19 centuries. Our fortunes changed in the 1900s though; WW1, WW2 and prohibition in the US among other factors, were catastrophic for the drink. We had 88 licensed distilleries in Ireland at the end of the 1800s, but by the mid 1900s there were just 5 left!

These 5 distilleries joined forces and formed Irish Distillers Group in 1966 and at at the very moment, the rebuilding of Irish Whiskey had begun. The group was bought by French drinks company Pernod Ricard in 1988 and they implemented an intense sales and marketing effort to distribute Irish whiskey on a worldwide scale again, with Jameson as the flagship brand (they liked the green bottle!). Around the same time, John Teeling opened Cooley distillery and there were two big players on the whiskey scene.

And for a longtime it was just Irish Distillers and Cooley. Both companies were performing so well around the world that other budding entrepreneurs were back in Ireland saying surely there’s room for them. And boy, there was quite a few of them! We’ve distilleries popping up everywhere in Ireland right now, each making their own unique whiskeys, with their own unique branding. Great news for Irish whiskey and, and great news for Whiskey Island!

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