Whisky Advocate

I’m boycotting Irish whiskey

February 24th, 2008

Until after St. Patrick’s Day, that is. For the next three weeks or so, I am not going to write about Irish whiskey. Why? because that’s what everybody else will be doing.

The whiskey companies pick now to promote their whiskeys. They pick now to introduce new whiskeys. They pick now to bring their distillery managers, master blenders, and ambassadors to the U.S. and parade them around.

The media, too, will follow suit. For the next four weeks, just about all the drinks publications, and many consumer publications, will be running stories on all things Irish–including Irish whiskey.

I like the Irish whiskeys being introduced right now. I like the people making the whiskeys and the people promoting the whiskeys. And I even understand why the whiskey companies, and the press, are making the big “St. Patrick’s Day” push.

Here’s what concerns me. I love Irish whiskey. I want the industry to thrive. I want more of the world to discover Irish whiskey. But as long as Irish whiskey is something associated with drinking only at St. Patrick’s Day (or putting in your Irish coffee), I fear it will always be the bridesmaid to Scotch whisky. Irish whiskey is something to be celebrated, promoted, and enjoyed year-round.

So, come April, when the Irish whiskey industry and press recovers from their St. Patrick’s Day blitz, I will once again pick up my pen and continue writing about, and drinking, this spirit I love. And I will continue doing so for the remainder of the year. Irish whiskey means too much to me too much to “pigeon hole” it to a few short weeks in March.

7 Responses to “I’m boycotting Irish whiskey”

  1. saqm k says:

    God bless ya, John! I, too, enjoy Irish immensely, and with the new expressions they’re bringing us, it would be a shame to tie them only to a (and excuse me here) sham drinking holiday. Long live great Irish whiskey! Slainte!

  2. Sku says:

    I similarly refused to review Jefferson Reserve on President’s Day. ;)

  3. John Hansell says:

    I wouldn’t make such a bold statement if I didn’t love Irish whiskey so much. We have to change the way people thing about Irish whiskey if it’s going to emerge from the shadow of Scotch whisky.

  4. JC Skinner says:

    It seems an odd way to promote Irish whiskey by refusing to discuss it!
    Still, you’ve long been an advocate of Irish whiskies, so I will not cavill.
    I would add that anyone with a taste bud left in their mouths ought to lay their hands on the 400th anniversary Bushmills, a few bottles of which I picked up at the distillery yesterday myself.
    It’s truly fantastic, and an excellent example of what Irish distillers do that the Scots cannot hope to compete with.
    Of course there is a good tradition of single malts at Bushmills and elsewhere in Ireland. But refining whiskey so smoothly, perfecting the art of blending, triple distilling, these are the hallmarks that for me set Irish whiskies apart.
    I love a lot of Scotches too. After all, what’s not to like? But I do feel sad that whiskey drinkers around the globe do not actually take a leaf out of the average Scottish whiskey lover’s book. In my experience, there isn’t a Scot out there who is partisan about whiskey. They’re as happy with a half-un of Irish as a good Scottish malt.
    In this part of the world, we only distinguish between good whiskies and bad, between favoured distilleries and tipples and those we like less.
    If only the rest of the world followed suit.
    After all, the Irish invented the drink. And I’m not sure that even the Scots would argue that they perfected it. Superlative whiskies abound in both countries.

  5. John Hansell says:

    JC, I just did discuss it. I hope that my posting yesterday will have more impact on the Irish whiskey industry than any other “normal” posting I would have made between now and St. Patrick’s Day.

    And don’t worry. There will be plenty of other Irish whiskey stories in magazines and newspapers over the next few weeks to keep everyone entertained. Let’s just hope that the articles are accurate.

    Sadly, I do see too many scotch drinkers who think of Irish whiskey as being inferior, which just reinforces this blog posting.

    Thank you for your thoughts. –John

  6. JC Skinner says:

    I ought to have clarified – I meant not discussing Irish whiskey, rather than not explaining your decision to not discuss Irish whiskey, if you see what I mean!
    I understand your position entirely, and am pleased that someone will still be championing the cause after the Paddy’s Day furore is a distant hangover.

  7. John Hansell says:

    Thanks JC. When it comes to Irish whiskey, I’m in it for the long haul. –John

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