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Writers’ Tears Irish whiskey and literature: the perfect pairing

Dublin’s deepest legacies, Irish whiskey and literary greats have been brought together by Writers’ Tears to create the perfect drop to pair with prose.

Writers’ Tears Ulysses Centenery Edition Bottle, photographed by Trevor Heart and Eleanor Harpur

Dublin was the beating heart of Irish whiskey production during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The spirit’s heyday was spurred by its popularity among many great writers, including Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Brendan Behan and, of course, James Joyce.

This year marks 100 years of Joyce’s greatest work: the novel Ulysses. To celebrate the momentous occasion, Amber Beverage Group-owned Writers’ Tears has created a commemorative bottle of Irish whiskey.

The bottle features an illustration of Sweny’s Pharmacy, a special location in Episode Five of the novel (The Lotus Eaters). Nowadays, Sweny’s is a cultural centre that Writers’ Tears supports philanthropically. Joyce himself visited Sweny’s in 1904 when researching his opus.

Only 5,442 bottles of the limited-edition Writers’ Tears – Copper Pot have been created. The bespoke packaging was designed by Studio Minerva of London, featuring a striking screen-print and line drawing of Sweny’s Pharmacy, a Victorian premises located near Trinity College in the centre of Dublin.

Available in Austria, the UK, Canada, France, Germany and Ireland – including The Loop in Dublin Airport – the special bottling is priced at RRP €45 (£35/US$42).

Bernard Walsh Writers Tears
Writers’ Tears founder Bernard Walsh with his rare first edition copy of Ulysses
Literary inspiration

Sweny’s Pharmacy ceased operating in 2009. However, a number of literary enthusiasts collaborated to preserve the location as a celebration of literature, hosting daily readings of works by literary giants, which also air on Facebook. The pharmacy has been preserved in its original state, retaining its Victorian frontage, layout and musty atmosphere – including some uncollected prescriptions still in cabinets from Joyce’s time. The building was under threat from increasing rents until Bernard Walsh, creator of Writers’ Tears, stepped in and pledged to contribute towards the rent in 2019.

The inspiration behind the latest Writers’ Tears bottling, Ulysses, is an epic novel about regular people going about their lives on a single day in Dublin: 16 June 1904. The tome recounts the lives and uncensored thoughts of the characters through their own streams of conscience, a revolutionary idea in 1922. So ground-breaking was the book that it caused uproar in ‘respectable’ society and was banned internationally until a group of brave Parisian women published the first 1,020 copies on 2 February 1922, Joyce’s 40th birthday.

The book is celebrated annually on 16 June, a date now known as ‘Bloomsday’, named after the main protagonist from the novel, Leopold Bloom. It also happens to be the date that Joyce went on his first date with his future wife, Nora Barnacle. Joycean enthusiasts mark the day by wearing Victorian attire and visiting venues across Dublin that feature in the book.

Writers’ Tears celebrated the centenary of Ulysses with a number of events throughout June, including co-sponsoring the Borris Festival of Writing & Ideas in Carlow, Ireland, from 10-12 June. In addition, they hosted several readings from Ulysses and whiskey tastings led at Joycean venues throughout Dublin, from 15-16 June.

Furthermore, the brand hosted a drinks reception at the International James Joyce Symposium in MOLI (the Museum of Literature Ireland) in also took place throughout Dublin from 15-16 June.

After all, Writers’ Tears is the perfect Irish whiskey to pair with prose.

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