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The Science and Commerce of Whisky

The Science and Commerce of Whisky

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The Science and Commerce of Whisky

523 Seiten
4 Stunden
Oct 29, 2020


Since the publication of the first edition in 2014, the whisky industry has continued to change. This book provides the reader with an overview of the latest academic research and industry best practice in an accessible and authoritative format. Despite the recession, new distillation capacity has been added at a record pace and new consumers in new markets have entered the arena. Distillers are experimenting with new finishes, packaging and marketing techniques and amongst consumers there is a hunger for knowledge and informed commentary. An entirely new chapter discussing the management and utilization of co-products and recent developments in areas such as anaerobic digestion is included along with revisions and updates to most chapters. Written by acknowledged and experienced authorities of the subject, this book provide an up to date treatment of this fast developing area. Aimed at the popular market, it provides a leading text for students of distilling, industry practitioners, new craft distillers and whisky enthusiasts.

Review of the 1st Edition

‘The authors have clearly put much effort into this book... I enjoyed the book almost as much as I enjoy whisky. Fascinating stuff from cover to cover.’ Ian W. Davies, Chromatographia, 2014, 77, 1733-1734

‘Sometimes, you come across a book that’s so comprehensive that it’s worth shouting about….a fascinating book that can be engaged with on numerous levels, even if you aren’t a student of distilling.

Pop it on the shelf and consult it from time to time over the coming years.

This might be the only whisky book you’ll ever need.’

Oct 29, 2020

Über den Autor

Ian Buxton has been working in and around the whisky industry for close to 30 years, but has been drinking professionally for a good deal longer. He began writing regularly for Whisky Magazine shortly after it launched, and now also writes in a variety of trade and consumer titles here and abroad. He has published a number of books, including the bestselling 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die.

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The Science and Commerce of Whisky - Ian Buxton



Whisky's Historical Development


There is a glut of chemical books, but a scarcity of chemical truths.

John French's preface to his Art of Distillation (1651)

It might, perhaps, be more comfortable for the grand narrative of modern science if alchemy – one of the pillars on which distilling is founded – could be quietly ignored or indeed forgotten entirely. The rational mind denies the contribution of mediaeval mystics and the arcane lore of the alchemist, yet both Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton pursued alchemical studies – Newton for more than 25 years, with alchemy central to his religious beliefs.

Early works on alchemy contain detailed descriptions of distilling and many illustrations of stills at work. It must be appreciated that these are, at heart, scientific works and that practitioners saw themselves as seekers after the truth, albeit proceeding from an Aristotelian view of a world comprised of four elements: earth, air, fire and water. Distillation represented the route to a ‘fifth essence’ or a kind of ultra-purified elixir that, in its highest form, could even prolong life. This was the search for the Philosopher's Stone that so engaged the mediaeval mind and, from the standpoint of the Aristotelian view, represented an entirely logical pursuit.

Even today, an echo may be found in writing about distilling. Primo Levi, chemist, writes¹ in The Periodic Table:† "Distilling is beautiful. First of all, because it is a slow, philosophic, and silent occupation, which keeps you busy but gives you time to think of other things, somewhat like riding a bike. Then, because it involves a metamorphosis from liquid to vapour (invisible), and from this once again to liquid; but in this double journey, up and down, purity is attained, an ambiguous and fascinating condition, which starts with chemistry and goes very far. And finally, when you set about distilling, you acquire the consciousness of repeating a ritual consecrated by the centuries, almost a religious act, in which from imperfect material you obtain the essence, the spirit, and in the first place alcohol, which gladdens the spirit and warms the heart."

The deliberate ambiguity of this passage, its overt reference to religion and its almost mystical tone – understandable, since Levi's skill as a chemist saved him from the forced labour gangs of Auschwitz – would, I suggest, be immediately familiar to the alchemist, despite proceeding from the formality and rigorous training of a modern scientist.

The inter-mingling of mystical symbolism, scientific practice and religious belief, so impenetrable to our contemporary mind-set with its emphasis on the rational and the material, leads us naturally to the monastery and the work of Franciscan friars, such as John of Rupescissa, Raymond Lull and the 13th century English philosopher and teacher Roger Bacon who, in 1267, attempted a synthesis of Aristotle's philosophy and science with contemporary theology, which he presented to his patron Pope Clement IV.

Basing much of their initial thinking and work on the Arabic writings of one Jabir ibn Hayyan (in Latin, Geber), who considered distillation the best way to separate nature into its component parts, they came to believe that the search for the fifth essence or ‘water of life’ would be through a series of distillations, often beginning with wine as the base. Silver and gold were also seen as incorruptible and therefore a suitable starting point for further transmutation. From this evolved the quest to change base metals into gold, the basis of much of the image of the alchemist and his search for the Philosopher's Stone in the popular imagination. However, as it is the medical application of distilling that led to distilled spirits as a beverage, the search for gold, however fascinating, is something of a sidebar to our story.

Perhaps the most famous description of distillation is given by Hieronymus Brunschwig. ² "Distilling is nothing other than purifying the gross from the subtle and the subtle from the grossand the subtle spirit made more subtle so that it can better pierce and pass through the body…conveyed to the place most needful of health and comfort."

The constant process of purification, as seen below in John French's series of linked alembics (Figure 1.1), was of critical importance to the alchemist (and it might be noted that this continues to be so to today's pharmacist or even distiller of vodka), and illustrations frequently show the ‘pelican’, a device for ensuring reflux and rectification. The pelican also carries symbolic meaning, referring to the legend that, in time of famine, the mother pelican would wound herself by striking her breast with her beak to feed her young with her blood to prevent starvation. By extension, early Christians adapted the pelican to symbolize Jesus as the Redeemer. The red blood of the pelican was also suggestive of a distillation process that had achieved the formation of the ‘Red Tincture’ and was close to reaching its ultimate stage of final transmutation (symbolized by the rebirth of the phoenix from the fire of distillation).

Figure 1.1 Apparatus for redistillation from John French's Art of Distillation (1651).

Thus, it is no coincidence that the first written reference to whisky in Scotland (from the Exchequer Rolls of 1494, discussed further in Chapter 2) directs us to the monastery at Lindores Abbey or that, in 1510, Dom Bernado Vincelli first prepared the liqueur that today we know as Bénédictine in the Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy. To this day, the bottle also features the Latin motto of the Bénédictine order "Deo Optimo Maximo meaning to God, the good, the great", as well as the coat of arms of Fécamp Abbey. Its counterpart, Chartreuse, dates originally from 1605 though it was not until 1737 that the liqueur was released to the world in a form resembling today's version.

While those traditions continue, until recently little remained of Lindores until the 2017 opening of a privately-funded distillery and visitor centre. Excavations at Pontefract and Selborne Priories have revealed fragments of 15th century alembics. These were made of glass or pottery, and thus intrinsically fragile, or possibly of pewter, which would have been re-used in another vessel once redundant for distilling. Very little thus survives of this early technology but based on the Pontefract and Selborne excavations and earlier work, archaeologists have suggested the conjectural evolution of the still (see Figure 1.2). As noted by Greenaway: ³ "medieval Europe gradually developed a taste for distilled alcohol, at first generally in the form of liqueurs sweetened and flavoured by infusing leaves, etc., or by distillation from a mixture. More efficient distillation gave stronger distillates and eventually produced the aquavits and the brandy-wines, which are very strong indeed if drunk exactly as distilled. The abuse of these drinks is a part of social history. There was no dividing line between regimen and pharmacy in early times. The new strong drinks gave a feeling of warmth and well-being, which led to their being prescribed from the 14th century onwards for conditions producing feelings of chill and debilityso it is no accident that liqueurs and monasteries are commonly linked."

Figure 1.2 The conjectural evolution of the still. From F. Greenaway et al., (ref. 3) and reproduced in F. Sherwood Taylor, Annals of Science, 1941–1947, vol. V.

And it is in a monastery that the story of Scotch whisky, at least, is said to start, which is discussed in detail in Chapter 2.


The history of Irish distilling is a long, tangled and unfortunate one, containing a salutary warning against complacency, yet with a happy ending.

Most histories of whisky place its first arrival in Europe in Ireland and then Scotland, with Irish Christian monks having obtained the secrets of distilling from the Moors in Spain, which they then brought home. Though the principle of distillation was known to the Arabs, the process by which it was transferred cannot be documented or even dated with any certainty and, in any event, it is far from clear that early distillation was used for the production of beverage alcohol, in fact it is frequently and convincingly argued that it was used in the making of medicines or perfumes.

It is not disputed that Irish monks travelled widely and gathered learning from a number of different sources. The monasteries they created were religious centres but also places of great culture. Many maintained hospitals to treat the local population and knowledge of the ‘water of life’ would have been greatly prized. But, as well as a medicine, its use as a restorative would have been soon appreciated, especially in Ireland's damp climate.

Moreover, it promoted a fighting spirit as, according to legend, King Henry II's troops discovered in 1170 when they invaded Ireland to boost the cause of the King of Leinster, who was at war with Roderic O'Connor, the High King of Ireland. Later, Sir Robert Savage of Bushmills is said to have given his men "a mighty draught of uisce beathe" as they went into battle in 1276.

There is a recipe for distilling from 1324 in the Red Book of Ossory – mainly a collection of Latin verses complied by Bishop Richard Ledred – but, frustratingly, it describes the distillation of wine which, of course, results in brandy. In 1405, it is recorded that Richard MacRanall, Chief of Mainter Eolais, died from an overdose of uisge beatha – but as to who made it and how we are left wanting.

So to the Scots and to Friar John Cor goes the honour of the first written mention of the production of whisky but, notwithstanding that, most writers agree that the prize for the earliest European distillation of a spirit that we can relate to whisky goes to the Irish. Having occupied Ireland in 1170, King Henry II appointed his son, John, as Lord of Ireland, and by 1177 the country was directly controlled by the English king. However, following the devastation of the Black Death, English influence diminished to the point where they had little control ‘beyond the Pale’, a fortified area round Dublin, central English authority having withered away to little or nothing in the country.

There, outside the reach of the English tax collectors, distilling quietly flourished. Just as in Scotland, distilling was an everyday and unremarked fact of the rural economy and the life of any substantial house. Attempts to raise tax were frustrated and this situation was to continue until King Henry VIII's invasion and subsequent domination of Ireland from 1536. Henry VIII then took a more practical view of the matter, attempting to raise tax and introducing a limit of one licensed distiller in a borough, with substantial fines for anyone caught producing illicitly. Following his dissolution of the monasteries, there was a further dissemination of the skills of distilling and the relevant technology – in 1541 his successor, Queen Elizabeth I, is said to have received (and more importantly enjoyed) a Bishop's gift of a cask of whiskey. The story is widely repeated in whisky histories; however, as she was 8 years old at the time, perhaps it was enjoyed more by her courtiers than the Queen herself!

By 1577, Raphael Holinshed praised aqua vitae in his Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, by remarking: "truly it is a sovereign liquor if it be orderly taken". During the long Anglo-Spanish war, a failed Spanish invasion in 1601 soon led to a period of complete English dominance in Ireland and, in 1608, a system of licensing was introduced under King James I of England and VI of Scotland.

The indefatigable Elizabethan traveller, Fynes Moryson, who was employed in Ireland around 1600 later wrote ⁴ that "the Irish aqua vitae, vulgarly called usquebagh, is held the best in the world of that kind, which is made also in England, but nothing so good as that which is brought out of Ireland. And the usquebagh is preferred before our aqua vitae, because the mingling of raisins, fennel seed, and other things, mitigating the heat, and making the taste pleasant, makes it less inflame, and yet refresh the weak stomach with moderate heat and good relish".

The quality and appeal of whiskey had not escaped the sharp eyes of the English administrators in Ireland's ruling class. Bishop George Montgomery wrote to his sister in November 1607 with a seasonal gift of Irish whiskey:

I am appointed a Commissioner for the plotting and devvyding of the contreye (i.e. Ulster), which I feare mee will keep mee here this Christmas agaynst my will; and agaynst my will it shal be indeed yf I eat not som of my coson's Beaumont's Christmas pyes, and so tell her I praye you. I hope my sister and she have received the water I sent them in a little runlet of a pottle, a quart for a peece.

Famously, Sir Thomas Phillips paid 13 shillings 4 dimes for the right to distil for Coleraine and the Route. To this day, Bushmills have the date of 1608 embossed on their bottles, though this is a generous view of the distillery's foundation. In any event, the privilege was cancelled in 1620 following complaints of abuse and favouritism. A tax of 4 pence per gallon was introduced on Christmas Day 1661 and, under this Act, Excise Commissioners were appointed for the first time with authority to appoint gaugers and searchers. Their effectiveness was limited, however, as the rule of law in Ireland was patchy at best, especially in more remote country areas, and with few records it is hard to reliably estimate the extent to which distilling was carried out at this time.

The situation changed with new laws in 1717, 1719, 1731, 1741, 1751, 1759 and 1761 – the amount of legislation indicating the extent to which government was seeking to regulate and control the distilling industry. In particular, the duties and powers of the gauger were increased and distillery operations more closely regulated than hitherto.

However, according to E. B. McGuire, ⁵ imported rum was more popular than whiskey with over 2 million gallons imported in 1771, remaining dominant until the end of the 18th century, when Dublin began to emerge as a significant distilling centre. It should, of course, be remembered that as in Scotland distilling could be suspended by law at times of poor harvest or, in Ireland, actual famine. This happened in 1758–1759, for example, and again in 1765–1766.

That Irish whiskey enjoyed a high reputation in England is vividly demonstrated by Dr Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (1755) in which he defines usqueba'ugh as shown in Figure 1.3.

Figure 1.3 Dr Samuel Johnson's 1755 definition.

The reference to the spirit "being drawn on aromaticks" is interesting, suggesting as it does a product closer in character to today's gin with its botanicals than to whiskey. It is, however, the case that much 18th century usquebaugh appears to have been flavoured in some way – not just in Ireland – presumably to disguise the harsh nature of the unaged spirit.

Tax increases continued to assist the illicit distiller and increase the appeal of poteen. It is claimed that there were 2000 or more illicit stills in operation towards the end of the 18th century, though by 1796, 214 were licensed and there was a growing trend towards more substantial operations. Licenced distillers were also not averse to evading duty and there is considerable evidence that the same distillery might produce both duty paid and illicit whiskey, making production and revenue statistics highly unreliable.

There was extensive political agitation in Ireland during this period for free trade and to allow Irish goods access to the rest of the British Empire. Important legislation in 1780 started this process and the ascendancy of Irish whiskey in general and the Dublin distillers in particular began, though Cork was also established as a significant regional centre.

The four great Dublin distilleries began operating around this time, though the exact date of their establishment is sometimes unclear as the records are partial. For example, Jameson's quote their date of foundation as 1780 but the 1802 excise return identifies only two operating distilleries in Bow Street and Smithfield: Edmond Grange, then Dublin's pre-eminent distiller and John Stein, from the Scottish family of distillers of the same name. Stein and Edgar also had premises in Marrowbone Lane but, by 1802 that business was registered as Jameson and Stein and by 1822 it was known as William Jameson & Company (Figure 1.4).

Figure 1.4 Jameson's Bow Street distillery, Dublin, ca. 1878, published in Truths About Whisky.

Presumably, John Jameson must have acquired and expanded the Bow Street distilleries and, in 1810, he named the company John Jameson & Son. Eventually, four large Dublin distillers emerged: John Jameson & Son of Bow Street, John Power & Son of John's Lane, George Roe & Co. of Thomas Street, and William Jameson & Co. of Marrowbone Lane. They were to come to dominate the Irish trade.

While their exact history is hard to disentangle, and perhaps of little relevance at this distance in time, several factors emerge: these were businesses, employing large numbers of specialist staff where, increasingly, the owners and directors were distant from physical operations; they were dynastic in nature and they were, in their heyday, to prove immensely profitable.

One other name of particular interest that appears in the rank of Dublin distillers is that of Aeneas Coffey. A former excise man of some 25 years distinguished service, in which he was assaulted and severely injured by illicit distillers, engaged in a vigorous published debate with the Reverend E. Chichester on the ‘oppressions and cruelties’ of the Revenue's officers (whilst understanding the temptation and appeal of illicit distilling, Coffey took the side of the law), rose to the office of Inspector-General and proposed a number of technical innovations concerning still safes and revenue locks. He resigned in 1824 and began distilling at the Dock Distillery, Dodder Bank, Dublin. This passed to his son but had closed by 1847.

His fame, however, rests on his development of the continuous ‘patent’ or Coffey Still, which was radically to transform the world of whisky distilling. Coffey obtained his patent in February 1831 and was soon in the business of manufacturing stills. Around 1835, he relocated to London, where he continued operations until his death in 1852. The firm continues to this day under the name of John Dore & Co in Guildford, Surrey.

The Coffey Still took to their logical conclusion the very rapidly worked stills of the Scottish Lowland distillers, such as John Haig and Robert Stein, who had themselves patented a design for a continuous still in 1826. It took a few years for this technology to be widely adopted but, after Gladstone's Spirit Act of 1860, which allowed blending in bonded warehouses before duty had to be paid, the Scots embraced the product of the continuous still with increasing enthusiasm. However, to their eventual cost, the Irish pot still industry took an entirely different view: a clash both of commercial interests and of cultures.

While history has preserved the reputation of the Dublin distillers, brief mention should be made of their rivals in Belfast and Londonderry which, until the closure of Dunville's (once the largest distillery in the UK) and United Distilleries in the late 1930s, represented a significant second force accounting for more than 90% of the distilling capacity of the north of Ireland. Until very recently only Bushmills remained operational in the north, having been expanded both by Diageo and its current owner, the tequila producer Jose Cuervo.

John Teeling, formerly of Cooley, has established the Great Northern Distillery in Dundalk, primarily to supply spirit to third parties, and smaller operations have been opened in the past few years at Crossgar, Newtonards and Enniskillen, while others are in the planning stage.

Irish whiskey grew rapidly from the 1820s, especially following the Distillery Act of 1823 and, according to Revenue statistics, by 1900 legally recorded production was approximately 14.5 million proof gallons from 30 distilleries.

Throughout the 19th century Irish whiskey enjoyed a markedly superior reputation compared to Scotch and dominated the home market. Still sizes had grown dramatically and this, combined with the practice of triple distillation, meant that the Irish product was smoother and more consistent than Scotch single malt.

This was due, in no small measure, to the size of their stills: Roe's Thomas Street distillery was then the largest pot-still distillery in the UK and the scale of the Dublin ‘Big Four’ should not be under-estimated. In his Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom,⁶ Alfred Barnard gives details of their annual production in 1887:

Jameson's Bow Street distillery: one million gallons (4.54 million litres),

Power's in John's Lane: 900 000 gallons (just over four million litres),

William Jameson's distillery in Marrowbone Lane: 900 000 gallons

Roe's massive Thomas Street operation: nearly two million gallons (some 9 million litres).

Contrast this with the scale of The Glenlivet at the same time: Barnard quotes this as "nearly 200 000 gallons" or less than one quarter of the smallest of the Dublin concerns. If any doubt remains about the status of the Dublin distilling industry at this time, consider that Barnard chose as the frontispiece of his book an engraving of the founder of John Power & Son. These were truly the giants of the 19th century whisky world.

However, to the consternation of the Irish trade, a practice grew up of shipping Scotch whisky to Ireland where, after a short period in a warehouse, it could be re-exported as ‘Irish’ – a practice vehemently and vociferously opposed by the ‘Big Four’ in a series of pamphlets and campaigning around 1878–1879, culminating in the issue of a book by them: Truths about Whisky. ⁷ Questions were asked by Irish MPs in the House of Commons.

Truths about Whisky also rails against adoption of the product of the continuous still – or ‘silent spirit’ and ‘sham whiskey’, which refer to the Dubliners styled grain and blended whiskey, respectively. But be that as it may, political manoeuvring was of little weight compared to the reaction of the market. The energetic adoption of blending by the Scotch whisky industry saw the foundation and spectacularly rapid growth of some great firms: Dewar's, Walkers of Kilmarnock, Buchanan's, Haig & Haig and many other well-known concerns all prospered mightily at this time at the expense of the Irish distillers.

Several factors combined to aid the Scots: the innate shrewdness of their leading firms, the fashionability of all things Scottish, the spread of the British Empire and the arrival of phylloxera in European vineyards all played their part. But there is no doubt that they were greatly aided by an almost wilful refusal by the Irish firms to accept that blending had arrived and was being taken up enthusiastically by the consumer.

Like it or not, ‘silent spirit’ was here to stay; something which was subsequently confirmed by the Royal Commission on Whiskey, set up to determine the ‘What is Whisky?’ question, and which reported in favour of blending in 1909.

Other factors combined to undermine the strength of the Irish position, not least an over-reliance on one market, the USA, where over 400 brands of Irish whiskey were on sale by the late 19th century. The arrival of National Prohibition in the USA in January 1920 was followed by the Irish War of Independence with its unfavourable impact on sentiment in the English market. The eventual secession of the Irish Free State from the UK in 1922 triggered retribution in the form of high tariff barriers effectively blocking Irish whiskey exports to the remainder of the British Empire. A decision in 1926 by the Free State to increase the minimum age of Irish whiskey to 5 years, though doubtlessly well intentioned, placed the Irish industry at a further competitive disadvantage and punitive duty increases completed a dolorous picture.

When Prohibition ended in 1933, the Scots proved to be in the stronger position, able to exploit the opportunity more energetically and with greater commercial acumen. An exhausted Irish industry appeared to have lost its competitive spirit. Many small distilleries had simply closed their doors, never to re-open. Avoniel, Belfast (closed 1929);‡ Connswater, Belfast (closed 1929); Bandon, Co. Cork (closed 1929); Glen, Kilnap, Co. Cork (closed 1925); North Mall, Cork (closed 1925); Phoenix Park, Dublin (closed 1921) and Monasterevan, Co., Kildare (closed 1921) stand as examples of a depressing roll call of failure.

Post-war decline was even more marked – in fact, some commentators go so far as to suggest that Irish whiskey survived principally on the back of Irish coffee, popularized as an after-dinner drink. Whatever the truth of that, by 1966, only five distilleries remained working in the Republic and together they came to form the Irish Distillers Company (later, Irish Distillers Group). Today, after surrendering ownership to Seagrams, it is part of Pernod Ricard of France. The Dublin sites were finally closed, with only the Old Jameson distillery on Bow Street remaining as a visitor attraction.

More recently, a number of distilleries have opened in Dublin, especially in the Liberties district, which historically was the principal distilling region. These include the Teeling, Pearse Lyons and Dublin Liberties distilleries. Diageo are currently constructing a new Roe & Co. distillery, which is projected to open in June 2019.

The Midleton distillery near Cork was closed and re-modelled as a visitor centre and heritage site, while a brand new, state-of-the-art and multi-purpose distillery was built adjacent to it in 1975, although the individual brand identities are still maintained. Capable of producing a remarkable range of whiskies (and other spirits), the Midleton distillery has been expanded on several occasions. Between 2012 and 2016, Irish Distillers are reported to have spent more than €120m at Midleton, with further investment of some €10.5m in 2017 to expand production by 30%. In 2018, an additional €130m project was announced to be spent on expansion and upgrading of facilities, reflecting the dominant position of the Jameson brand in world markets.

Irish whiskey in general, and Jameson in particular, is often seen by the industry as a gateway category and, notwithstanding its own substantial volumes, the brand may play an important role in recruiting young adults into all whisky.

Bushmills in the north was owned by Diageo until their brief withdrawal from the Irish whiskey market in November 2014, when it was sold to Jose Cuervo who have expanded at the site. As noted above, Diageo re-entered this market in January 2017 with the launch of the Roe brands (then sourced from other Irish producers) and the start of construction of the €25m Roe distillery on part of their Guinness brewery site.

A further domestic entrant to what is today a newly resurgent industry was Cooley, established in 1987 in the old Ceimici Teo distillery in County Louth, where vodka was distilled from potato by-products. John Teeling, an Irish entrepreneur, recognized an opportunity for a small Irish distiller and renamed the Dundalk-based distillery ‘Cooley’, making whiskey there from 1989 and going on to acquire other famous brands and distilleries which had been mothballed, including Tyrconnell and Kilbeggan. The Kilbeggan distillery, dating from 1757 and claiming to be the oldest distillery in the world, was re-opened in 2007 and a small stillhouse installed. In December 2011, the company was acquired by Beam Inc. of the USA (today known as BeamSuntory). John Teeling and his eldest son, Jack, subsequently left the business to establish the Teeling Whiskey Co., aiming to "revive the independent spirit of Ireland".

This has subsequently evolved into Teeling Snr's Great Northern Distillery operation, while his sons Jack and Stephen operate as the Teeling Distillery in Dublin.

William Grant & Sons of Dufftown, Scotland acquired the Tullamore DEW brand from Irish Distillers in July 2010 and developed a new, state-of-the-art pot still whiskey and malt whiskey distillery there at a cost of some €35m. This has been further expanded and a visitor centre created in the remaining old distillery buildings in the nearby town of Tullamore. Subsequently, a grain whiskey plant and bottling facilities have also been installed at the Tullamore distillery complex.

In Waterford, the former MD of Bruichladdich Mark Reynier purchased and remodelled a mothballed Guinness brewery and has commenced distilling ‘terroir-derived single malt Irish whiskey’. Waterford uses only Irish barley, including organic and biodynamic strains, from unique terroirs. Each crop is harvested and distilled separately and the distillery has funded independent scientific analysis of its new make spirit to determine the presence or otherwise of terroir, a concept of some slight controversy in whisky production circles.§

Today, as this book goes to print, some 20 distilleries are currently operating on the island of Ireland with an unknown number, possibly as high as a further 20, proposed or in the planning or financing stages. The trade body, the Irish Whiskey Association, has forecast that Irish whiskey will grow its global market share by 300% in the period to 2031, claiming it to be the fastest growing spirits category in the world.

Whatever the eventual outcome of this projection, Irish whiskey is in as good a condition as it has been for more than a century. The category has been developed by shrewd, single-minded marketing led by Pernod Ricard's Irish Distillers and supported by William Grants, Diageo and

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