If you find it hard to keep up with the bewildering array of new Irish whiskeys that seems to grow by the day, don’t worry, help is at hand. Gary Quinn, a big whiskey fan, has written an up-to-date guide to all of our distilleries, new and old, and the whiskey they produce.
This is an invaluable book, written as much for the uninitiated as the whiskey aficionado. There are short introductory chapters outlining the fascinating saga of Irish whiskey, an overview of each of the many new distilleries (as well as those who don’t actually own a distillery) and tasting notes on more than 100 Irish whiskeys, including many of the single cask and limited releases that get whiskey anoraks really excited. But the focus is really on the growing number of affordable spirits that make Irish whiskey so interesting.
“I wanted to simplify everything,” says Quinn. “It turned into part travel guide, part whiskey book. I just kept meeting all these really interesting people and wanted to capture a bit of that too, spending time with them, having a laugh and talking. Some of the places I went to were fantastic. Killowen and Lough Mask are two one-man bands. Killowen is simply a converted stable with stills lit by flame. Lough Mask is the most beautiful place – so many people, even in Mayo, don’t know it.”
Written in a relaxed but informative style, this pocket-sized book will be useful for any visitor to these shores with an interest in whiskey, and many Irish people too, both as a travel guide to the growing number of distillery visitor centres or simply as an aide to buying a bottle of whiskey.
“There is so much happening, the book is already out of date! But it seems to me that everyone is collaboratively determined that Irish whiskey will succeed. I was so encouraged by all the people I met, some working on a shoestring, others with millions behind them. And I got to drink every whiskey in Ireland over nine months.”
Irish Whiskey by Gary Quinn, Collins Little Books, will be published on February 6th, £6.99 (€8.20)