There has been a lot of hot air expended over a bottle of whiskey recently by the name of John L Sullivan.
John L Sullivan is a sourced whiskey brand. They – like many other sourced brands – get their whiskey from a reputable Irish whiskey distillery. They can then proceed to promote, brand, distribute and blend this whiskey in any way they see fit.
Just as many other companies do.
The particular expression that everyone is getting hot under the collar about is one where they have mixed the Irish whiskey with an American bourbon – also sourced from a reputable distillery in the USA – to create a hybrid type of blend.
This hybrid whiskey has garnished rave reviews in some regions here.
And an outpouring of scorn in others.
A facebook thread in Ireland castigates this whiskey as ‘fake’ & ‘pseudo’. It likens the whiskey to the ‘gutrot’ produced by gangsters during prohibitions times which allegedly brought the Irish whiskey industry to it’s knees.
I just don’t buy that narrative.
I congratulate John L Sullivan for coming up with a new & exciting product that can offer an innovative new taste experience to customers – as well as opening up a new revenue stream for Irish whiskey.
The Irish whiskey industry has a long proud history and culture.
But part of that culture is resisting new means and methods of making whiskey.
In 1878 a book was published denouncing the new form of whisky being made by an invention called the Coffey Still.
That new whisky was called ‘silent whisky’ and we now know it as grain whiskey.
Sections of the Scottish whisky industry took to this new product in the 1840’s to create market leading brands that are still popular today.
It took at least another 100 years for the Irish whiskey industry to fully engage with the new methods. None of the 4 large Dublin whiskey distilleries who commissioned the book exist today
What if this new hybrid whiskey becomes the next ‘silent whisky’ in terms of future sales?
Is the Irish whiskey industry of today going to inflict the first cut in it’s demise as it did in the past?
And as the old song goes, The First Cut Is The Deepest.
Or is this new style of whiskey going to be embraced?
Being a new style means there will be labelling issues, regulatory red-tape and legal gremlins to sort out.
Hopefully that is in process.
Whiskey is fluid.
It has constantly flowed, changing and evolving throughout it’s long existence.
History is not kind on those who wish to stop that flow.
My thanks to The Whiskey Jug for the header image.