Some years ago the few Irish whiskey producers that there were on this island used wring their hands in despair as to how they might re-envision Irish whiskey away from its black hole gravitational force image of being “an old man’s drink”.
And the way to do this was to broaden the sales opportunity into more diverse market segments such as the segment of the population that might appreciate Irish whiskey in a cocktail or those that might like something a bit different. This worked for the Irish consumer at just about the same time as the Irish whiskey phenomenon was beginning to take shape internationally.
Irish whiskey cocktails not only worked but stimulated an interest in premium Irish whiskeys in their pure form, neat or with a sprinkling of water. This interest has mushroomed into the demand that one sees for Irish whiskey today and the supply of same being ever-more widely taken up by the growing number of distilleries here.
It’s the versatility of Irish whiskey that makes it so suitable for use in cocktails.
“Both in Ireland and globally, we’re seeing the ever-increasing rise of cocktail culture, particularly among Millennials,” the Head of the Irish Whiskey Association William Lavelle told Drinks Industry Ireland, “Irish whiskey brands are fully embracing cocktail culture through marketing Irish whiskey as an ideal cocktail component and in promoting signature serves. The multiple distillation of Irish whiskey makes it an ideal and highly-versatile ingredient for cocktails and mixologists around the world are including Irish whiskey increasingly in their cocktail menus.”
In its Whiskey and Dark Rum report last February, Mintel stated that its consumer survey had found that of those who’d drunk dark spirits in the past three months, Irish whiskey and golden and spiced rum were the most popular type of dark spirits with 7% here having taken Irish whiskey as part of a cocktail.
The report states, “Pubs and bars remain the main locations where Irish consumers have drunk whiskey and dark rum. However with the beer, cider and wine categories continuing to dominate sales in the on-trade, pubs and bars could look to feature whiskey and dark rum more prominently on their menus and a ‘whiskey and dark rum of the month’ to boost usage of dark spirits within their premises. On-trade operators could also pique consumers’ interest in whiskey and dark rum by using these products as the base ingredient in more cocktails. This would help them to create new usage occasions and ‘Instagrammable’ serving suggestions that could attract new and younger users to the category”.
This must certainly be on the minds of some pubs as they move to make the most of the boom in Irish whiskey sales
At the moment the Overall Whiskey Bar of the Year 2017 Garavans of Galway doesn’t do whiskey cocktails, but has something in the works to come up with a whiskey cocktail ‘mini menu’ which will “offer another avenue down which to explore whiskey for consumers who don’t normally turn to whiskey as a drink to have neat,” explained Darren Green, the Manager at Garavan’s Bar.
Darren believes that Irish whiskey makes for a very versatile cocktail “as the flavour range from Pot Stills through to peated double-distilled whiskeys is wide, offering the depth and character needed to compliment a lot of different ingredients. You can have something sweet, spicy or smoky to name a few qualities for which whiskey can provide a cocktail base to build upon”.
“We’ve been asked time and again for Old Fashioneds, Whiskey Sours or a Manhattan so we hope when we do launch our menu it will prove successful,” he says.
In the meantime his forays through trade venues and cocktail menus have indicated to him that the classic cocktails “as of old Prohibition days” remain in huge demand and are still quite highly regarded by the consumers of today – “…. the Old Fashioned being one of the most popular anywhere I go, just with twists and turns that the venue decides to add to try be something different. Classic is still golden and trends seem to be working hand-in-hand with them”.
Roe & Co
Rare glimpses of sunlight are best enjoyed with great conversation and cocktails. This Summer cocktail from Roe & Co focuses on the spritz moment.
The zingy apple cider vinegar and decadent plum in this Summer spritz perfectly rounds out the caramel and vanilla flavours of Roe & Co to create an immensely sippable serve – a no-fuss twist on a highball.
Bringing a fresh take on the category the Master Blender at Roe & Co Caroline Martin led a panel of bartenders on the search for a great-tasting and unique Irish whiskey that would work in both mixed drinks, alone or over ice.
This blend is an intricate mix of malt and grain whiskies, finished predominantly in first fill Bourbon casks.
- 35ml Roe & Co Irish Whiskey
- 30ml Plum Shrubb (see below)
- Top with Soda Water
- Thyme Sprig and a Plum to Garnish.
Add the Roe & Co and Plum Shrubb to a Collins glass. Fill your glass with ice and top with soda water. Stir well and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme and a plum slice.
To make the Plum Shrubb, simply add 250g of fresh plums, skin on and 250g of caster sugar to a saucepan. Slowly cook over a medium heat until the plums are soft and the sugar is dissolved – don’t let it get too ‘jammy’.
Add 100ml Apple Cider Vinegar and continue to reduce. If your customers enjoy a very ‘zingy’ drink, you may continue to add more vinegar to increase the acidity levels.
Allow the mixture to cool and strain the Plum Shrubb with a sieve. Once cooled, measure your liquid and add one gram of Citric Acid for every 100ml of liquid. Bottle and refrigerate.
The mixture lasts a couple of weeks in the fridge but gradually loses intensity of flavour.
Inspired by the island of Lambay, just three miles off the coast of Dublin, Lambay Island holds many tales of dynasty and devilment, but most importantly it’s the home of Lambay Irish Whiskey.
A combination of French family-owned Camus Cognac expertise and centuries of Irish distilling knowledge makes Lambay Whiskey a unique craft Irish whiskey from a curious place.
Introducing Spring/Summer cocktails with Lambay Whiskey Small Batch Blend – this whiskey is a blended whiskey, triple-distilled, Bourbon cask matured and finished in a French Oak Cognac cask for the distinguished family-owned Cognac house Camus. Water from Lambay Island’s own Trinity Well is used in the final finish.
The Lambay Selkie
Inspired by legends of swan maidens, mythological creatures found in Irish, Scottish and Faroese culture, Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land. This cocktail transforms from one flavour to another while keeping its original aroma.
40ml Lambay Whiskey Small Batch Blend
20ml Elderflower Liqueur
20ml Lemon Juice
10ml Sugar Syrup
5ml Egg White
3 Dashes Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters
Garnish: Edible Flower.
How to Make:
Fill a coupe glass with ice to chill. Add all ingredients into a shaker without ice. Once added, dry shake for 10 seconds without ice to aerate the cocktail. Open the shaker and add ice, shake hard again for 15 seconds. Empty the ice out of the coupe then double-strain the cocktail using a Hawthorne strainer and fine strainer. Garnish with an edible flower.
The Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey
The Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey is crafted by Master Blender Alex Thomas, one of Ireland’s few female whiskey blenders. It celebrates those who forge their own path to leave their mark on the world.
A modern Malt, The Sexton comes to market during the explosive rise of the Irish whiskey category. Born out of a blend between historic Irish whiskey-making traditions and modern-day maturation experimentation The Sexton represents the changing face of Ireland, capturing the heritage and provenance of the past coupled with the optimism and the creativity of the future.
The term ‘Sexton’ is derived from the Mediaeval Latin word ‘sacristanus’ meaning custodian of sacred objects and is used to describe the man who prepared the grave, the last man to witness the body before being laid to rest.
Alex uses classic Irish Single Malt techniques to craft The Sexton with only three ingredients:100% Irish malted barley, yeast and water. But what makes it truly special is the maturation process. It’s triple-distilled for smoothness in copper pot stills and exclusively aged in Oloroso Sherry butts to achieve a depth of flavour from the wine-soaked barrels.
The Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey is a new and unexpected Single Malt, rich in hue, approachable in taste, deep and memorable in character.
On the nose, notes of honeyed malt, nuts and dark chocolate followed by hints of Marzipan and Allspice. The refreshing palate reveals notes of dried fruit followed by a layer of complexity; rich notes of nuts, spice and citrus oils and finally a pleasant Oak finish with a honey sweetness that slowly fades. This is a modern Malt, versatile and perfect for mixing or sipping.
The new Irish Single Malt appears in a striking hexagonal black bottle inspired by the Giants Causeway.
Try the following cocktail recipe from The Sexton.
Dead of Night
35ml The Sexton Single Malt
25ml fresh Lemon juice
20ml sugar syrup
1 egg white
12.5ml red wine
Serve on the rocks.