The Irishman stands tall in the madding crowd with portfolio of single malts
The Irishman’s six expressions offer whiskey drinkers both clarity and great diversity through composition, strength, age and finish.
People with an interest in the rapidly expanding Irish whiskey category can find it difficult to plot a path that excites and reassures in equal measure. With the rededication of The Irishman portfolio to the exploration of super-premium single malts, whiskey drinkers have a guarantee of both a safe haven and exciting journey ahead.
The Irish whiskey revival is multi-layered. It offers the opportunity to explore four broad taste profiles, namely single malt, single pot still, grain and blended whiskeys. The variations don’t stop there, with the rules governing Irish whiskey-making allowing for great innovation and variety in terms of the cereals in the mash bills and the woods used to finish the spirit. The flexibility of Irish whiskey ensures that it is a category of increasing diversity.
One of the older brands in the Irish revival, The Irishman, established in 1999, has always been about exploring what single malt can be for the Irish whiskey category. To date, it has released no fewer than 14 expressions in 20 years. Single malt is the heart of the portfolio, and this month the company took the opportunity of a comprehensive £420,000 (€500,000/US$572,000) rebrand, to rededicate itself to the pursuit of producing the perfect drop of single malt. Produced by Walsh Whiskey (part of the Amber Beverage Group), the investment in the rebranding will support The Irishman’s target of doubling sales across its 50-plus markets within five years.
The Irishman’s critically acclaimed portfolio of six core expressions offers beginners and enthusiasts alike, great diversity in the single malt sub-category, including age statements (12- and 17-year-olds); a range of strengths, from 40% right up to cask strength; and a variety of finishes including Marsala wine, Saint Lucia rum, coffee stout, peated red ale and both oloroso and PX Sherries.
The journey will not stop there under the guidance of co-founder and managing director Bernard Walsh, who created both The Irishman and its sister brand Writers’ Tears, which is a single pot still-led suite of super-premium whiskeys. Walsh is currently working on new age statements and new finishes to further augment the portfolio.
Announcing the renewed focus on single malt and the brand redesign, 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 that it will always be distilled to leave a lasting impression.”
He added: “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 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, to name but a few. In the generational pursuit of whiskey excellence, our quest for the perfect dram, or taoscán [tay-scawn] of single malt, is just beginning.”
A closer look
The most striking change in The Irishman rebrand is the introduction of a bespoke, tall, tapered bottle. All expressions in the range are now sealed with a cork which affirms the super-premium nature of the whiskeys. The bottle has strong whiskey cues, including broad ‘shoulders’ and a tapered base. A significant feature of the bottle is a series of embossed phrases around the lower part of the bottle that capture the essence of The Irishman’s focus and purpose, which is ‘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’.
In addition to The Irishman rebrand, 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 (70% single malt & 30% pot still), with one of the highest malt contents of any Irish blend, has been renamed The Harvest. This expression, a truly unique blend of two premium styles of whiskey, started life as the first whiskey created by Walsh Whiskey’s founder. The renaming of this core expression as The Harvest honours the great contribution of the farming community in the whiskey-making process. The whiskey is crafted entirely from a mash bill of 100% Irish barley.
First released as a limited edition bottling in 2018, The Irishman Caribbean Cask is being added to the portfolio’s core expressions, which also include The Harvest; Single Malt; 12-Year-Old Single Malt; 17-Year-Old Single Malt and the Vintage Cask. The Irishman Caribbean Cask Finish is a rare vatting of single malt and single pot still whiskeys finished for six months in Chairman’s Reserve Rum casks from the tiny tropical Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, before being bottled at 46% ABV.