Rademon Estate Distillery in Crossgar, County Down, looks set to add its eagerly awaited Shortcross Single Malt Whiskey to its hugely successful portfolio of award-winning gins in the near future.
The whiskey, crafted by master distiller and joint founder of Rademon, David Boyd Armstrong, will be a highlight of the spirit calendar as 2021 develops.
The distillery, owned by David and wife Fiona, the managing director, revolutionised the spirit market when it introduced the first craft gin here in more than a century and has gone on to lead the pace with a locally produced pink gin, a special Bartenders Collection and an oak cask matured gin last month.
The company has also set a cracking pace in terms of export sales to around 30 markets, including the strategically important US. Other consignments have been shipped as far as Australia.
“We were ready to launch the malt whiskey towards the end of last year but decided to put it back for a few months because of the Covid-affected market conditions,” David explains.
“Launching the new whiskey is an important stage in our development which we need to get right. We don’t have a massive marketing budget and so we have to get the timing right,” he adds.
Old Bushmills, the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery, still the sector leader and our own truly global brand, launched the first two expressions of its novel Causeway Collection during the year.
The whiskeys, the latest from highly acclaimed master blender Helen Mulholland – recognised by Drinks Ireland with a Chairman’s Award for her outstanding achievements in the whiskey industry – are a new series of extremely rare and unique cask finished single malt whiskeys inspired by the natural wonder of the Giant’s Causeway.
The Causeway Collection references vary in age from nine to 30 years old and have launched to widespread acclaim in seven markets to date.
Bushmills has allowed these uncommon casks unprecedented years of rest, decades in some cases, creating unique waves of flavour every bit as dramatic as the Northern Irish coastline.
The Old Sexton Single Malt, distilled separately at Bushmills by master blender Alex Thomson and New York-based Proximo, also emerged as among the most popular Irish whiskeys in the US last year.
Good friends Helen Mulholland and Alex Thomas share a passion for rare casks used for maturing the spirit and providing unique flavours.
Hinch Distillery at Ballynahinch is another looking forward to the year ahead. The state-of-the-art distillery developed by businessman Terry Cross was completed towards the end of last year and will be open for visitors when Covid restrictions are lifted. The distillery also collected a host of awards last year for its Hinch malt and blended whiskeys and Ninth Wave Irish Gin.
Hinch is developing a malt whiskey in bourbon oak casks from a Kentucky distillery with historic links to 18th century Londonderry. The unique An Chead Dún cask whiskey is the first ever distillation of Irish single malt spirit there by experienced head distiller Aaron Flaherty.
“We sourced the casks from Maker’s Mark in Kentucky because of the quality of the wood there and its historic role as among the very first bourbon distilleries,” Aaron explains.
“Maker’s Mark traces its history back to John Samuels Snr, a Church of Scotland rector from the Edinburgh area, who emigrated to Londonderry in 1702/3. In 1713, he was among the first families from the city to sail to America.
“He acquired a whiskey still and started producing the spirit,” Aaron says.
An Chead Dún, the name of the whiskey, he explains, translates from Gaelic as ‘The First Down’, and is the first single malt spirit to be released by the distillery as it moves towards full distillation.
Titanic Irish Whiskey could soon have a new home in a distillery near where the Ill-fated luxury liner was built.
A new company, Titanic Distillers Limited, has lodged plans to develop a new distillery at the existing pump-house building at the Thompson Dry Dock in Titanic Quarter and within walking distance of the world leading Titanic Building and the Nomadic vessel which ferried passengers to the liner.
Opened in 1911, Thompson Dry Dock was built to accommodate the massive White Star transatlantic liners Olympic and Titanic.
The relaunch of the Titanic Whiskey brand is scheduled in April 2021 to coincide with the departure of Titanic on its maiden voyage in April 1912. The whiskey was first launched in Belfast on May 31, 2011, the 100th anniversary of the launch of the ill-fated liner from the Harland and Wolff shipyard.
Ireland Craft Beverages (ICB) has emerged among the most innovative whiskey producers, and has continued the contemporary revival in the age-old tradition of independent bonding, blending and bottling by releasing The Blenders Cut – Sauternes Cask Strength (ABV 63.5%) and The Blenders Cut – Barbados Rum Cask Strength (ABV 63 per cent) Irish whiskeys.
These will be the final two bottlings in their limited-edition Blenders Cut with just 222 bottles of each produced.
Bonded and bottled from Killowen Distillery, near Rostrevor, in the scenic Mourne mountains, County Down, Two Stacks is continuing to produce limited-edition premium whiskey for enthusiasts. Killowen continued to set the pace with special limited edition whiskeys using rare casks from around the world.
The revival of the historic Dunville brand continued to be undertaken successfully during the year by Echlinville Distillery in Kircubbin.