Until quite recent times, Irish whiskies came from just three sources – Midleton in County Cork, Cooley at Dundalk, Co Louth, and good old Bushmills in Co Antrim. All three belong to bigger distilling groups, respectively to Pernod-Ricard, Beam Suntory and Diageo.
Located 20 miles south of Dublin, Powerscourt is one of Ireland’s finest stately homes, has one of the world’s top 10 gardens and, since last year, boasts its own whiskey distillery.
Apart from working as a journalist, I have spent many years working as a tourist guide. Many foreign groups I accompany around Scotland have at least one distillery on their holiday itinerary, others are just one long pilgrimage to one distillery to the next.
Amid the current mushrooming growth of gin distilleries, I have long intended to visit one. That finally came to pass some weeks ago when I saw a gin distillery that, for all it was in the most delightful and historic setting, reminded more of a medieval alchemist’s workshop than a 21st Century distillery.
Alcohol seems to be this country’s boom industry. Not only are countless new distilleries opening, but there has been a parallel surge in new breweries and—way down south—ever more new vineyards producing some remarkable wines.
Writers tend to be voracious readers and I always look for old or unusual whisky books in second-hand bookshops or at car boot sales.
The continuing expansion of Scotch whisky, with countless new distilleries opening and existing distilleries upping production, means demand for malt is growing hand over fist.
Two separate factors have affected air travel in recent years and have also put paid to what was one of the more enjoyable perks of foreign holidays.
What is really special about Lindores Distillery is its location and the site’s history. Although whisky buffs know all about Friar John Cor and his invoice, few people realise just how important the abbey was in its days before the Reformation.
A former editor I knew once said to me: “Journalism is the only profession where you are never off duty.” And he was right. As a journalist, you never know when a chance chat in a pub, a fleeting glimpse of some cargo on a lorry or a dusty document in a drawer might lead you to a good story. And good stories are the lifeblood of journalism and, I hope, of Amber Lights.