IT Carlow’s Stephen Foster wins Walsh Whiskey Bursary

Stephen Foster, a Second Year Brewing and Distilling undergraduate from Gorey in County Wexford attending the Institute of Technology Carlow, has become is the third recipient of the annual Walsh Whiskey €1,000 bursary.
Bernard Walsh of Walsh Whiskey with the third Annual Walsh Whiskey Bursary cheque for €1,000 won by Stephen Foster, a Second Year student in the Brewing & Distilling Degree course at Institute of Technology Carlow.

Bernard Walsh of Walsh Whiskey with the third Annual Walsh Whiskey Bursary cheque for €1,000 won by Stephen Foster, a Second Year student in the Brewing & Distilling Degree course at Institute of Technology Carlow.

The prize is awarded by Walsh Whiskey (Writers’ Tears & The Irishman premium whiskeys) to the student with the highest First Year grades in the Bachelor of Science in Brewing and Distilling course at the ITC.

The Carlow programme was the first of its kind in Ireland when initiated in 2017.

“I’m delighted to have received the award from Bernard Walsh and Walsh Whiskey,” said Stephen, originally from Hollywood, Wicklow, but now living in Gorey, in accepting the Walsh Whiskey Bursary, “It represents both the culmination of a lot of hard work and the great link that exists between the academic programme at IT Carlow and the brewing and distilling industry in Ireland. To have someone like Bernard and a company like Walsh Whiskey directly attached to the programme highlights its credibility.“

Bernard Walsh, Co-founder and Managing Director of Walsh Whiskey, said, “Despite the headwinds caused by the pandemic, Walsh Whiskey is strongly committed to supporting the development of the next generation of Irish whiskey distillers. We congratulate Stephen for his excellent Grade Point Average score. We’re unlikely to ever see a whiskey as strong, but Stephen’s marks reflect the sort of excellence that the Irish whiskey sector will rely upon to fulfil its potential in the years and decades ahead.”


Significant opportunities

Owing to the pandemic restrictions, Bernard presented the award virtually to Stephen as part of a video-conference address to the undergraduates of the BSc in Brewing and Distilling course.  Bernard, also a Director of Drinks Ireland, presented an overview of the significant opportunities in the whiskey sector, notwithstanding the challenges of the pandemic.

“Irish whiskey has outperformed other whiskey categories and spirits during this pandemic,” he stated, “Taste for Irish whiskey has been continuing to grow all around the world for over 10 years now and that will continue to feed into the creation of distilling-related jobs here in Ireland. Sales of our Writers’ Tears and The Irishman whiskeys across over 50 countries have doubled in the last few years. So we’ll need plenty of world-class distillers of the future like Stephen to come through and ensure the sector continues to meet that global demand.”

In offering his congratulations to Stephen, ITC Programme Director Dr David Ryan, commented, “We very much appreciate the continued industry support for our unique Honours degree programme and I particularly want to thank Walsh Whiskey for once again offering this bursary to our students. Despite the impact of Covid restrictions,  our programme continues to grow and we look forward to our first-ever graduating class later this year, all of which makes the awarding of this year’s Walsh Whiskey Bursary an even bigger cause for celebration”.

The four-year Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Brewing and Distilling was developed by ITC following significant research and consultation with industry, representative organisations, national bodies and government. The programme has received huge support from an industry that has consistently reported difficulties in recruiting suitable qualified staff.

The programme is one of only four in the world to achieve professional recognition by the prestigious Institute of Brewing and Distilling, the world’s leading professional body for the brewing and distilling industry.

Graduates of the degree are eligible to sit the Masters level professional qualifications of the IBD and are hugely in demand within the industry at home and abroad.


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