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Reynier: Irish whiskey is not taken seriously

Bruichladdich’s former managing director Mark Reynier claims he will challenge the “flavoured whiskey and standardisation” strategies of large drinks groups with his new Irish whiskey distillery.

Mark Reynier believes there is “not enough mind-fuckery” in the Irish whiskey category

It was revealed late last year that Reynier had bought a former Guinness brewery in Ireland, with plans to transform it into an Irish whiskey distillery, called Waterford Distillery.

The site, previously owned by Diageo, will have an initial annual capacity for three million litres when operations start in 2016, with an innovative focus on barley and yeast.

However speaking to The Spirits Business, Mark Reynier expressed reservations over the term “innovation” and its prevalence among the marketing terminology used by large drinks groups.

“To the big drinks companies, innovation means flavoured whiskey and standardisation, which I am not very fond of; it’s a complete antithesis of what I do,” he said.

“Flavoured whiskey is shooting yourself in the foot and something that needs to be clarified in a sensible way, otherwise you risk throwing the baby out of the bathwater.

“Marketing companies are always looking at how they can increase the numbers, but doing that at the cost of devaluing the sector is a short term strategy.”

Scotch distillery Bruichladdich was sold to French Drinks group Rémy Cointreau for £58 million in 2012 after an overriding vote by the distillery’s board of directors.

Folllowing a brief two-year retirement period, Reynier now intends to enhance the Irish whiskey category with his Waterford Distillery, where he claims age statements will be “irrelevant” and caramel will be banned.

“We are building a significant distillery which will have a significant identity. This is not a tourist exercise, it’s not a romance thing; it’s hard-nosed distilling,” he added.

“I don’t think people take Irish whiskey seriously, because there isn’t anything with which to take it seriously. It’s easy doing accessible stuff, but there isn’t a great deal of mind-fuckery going on; it’s all just pretty simplistic stuff.

“Our aim is the put some meat on the bones and actually produce some serious whiskey.”

For Mark Reynier’s full interview and more on the Waterford Distillery, see the January 2015 issue of The Spirits Business magazine.

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