The pursuit of all things whiskey takes me down many unexpected paths – like reading a book on Conor McGregor!
As the figurehead for Proper Twelve Irish Whiskey – now the 4th biggest selling Irish Whiskey in the world according to International Wine And Spirits Research (IWSR) – a greater understanding of the person behind this spectacular achievement drew me in.
Written by award winning journalist & author Ewan MacKenna – who has followed Conor from his 1st UFC victory in 2013 to the present day – it’s a no holds barred account of the Notorious phenomena.
In creating the Notorious character, Conor indulged in unorthodox tactics both in – and often more publicly – outside the ring. Trash talking before fights descended into racism, misogyny & xenophobia mirroring the ‘strongman alpha male’ attitudes of politicians like Putin, Trump & Bolsonaro. Despite projecting an anti-establishment aura – they are all part of the new establishment which has usurped the former incumbents.
The 13 second knockout of José Aldo in 2015 propelled Conor to the top of his sport & amassed a huge fan base.
Despite his off ring antics – which are fully explored in the book – Conor leveraged his position to gain lucrative sponsorship fees & appearances at subsequent UFC fights.
Ewan locates the cult of Conor among other sporting icons. Their dedication & determination to get to the top, their struggles to stay at the top & their inevitable decline afterwards.
Conor’s Proper Twelve Irish Whiskey was eventually released in late 2017 & immediately achieved record sales. Perhaps it’s a way to extend his career as a public figure after losing to Khabib in his last UFC fight in 2018?
Conor’s entry into Irish Whiskey certainly upset the establishment.
To launch a celebrity based brand with no distillery by such a vulgar character was greeted with derision & scorn. No one seemed to even contemplate the success it would engender.
Now placed at number 4 – behind Jameson, Tullamore & Bushmills – Proper Twelve outsells established brands like Kilbeggan, Paddy & Redbreast & leaves for dust newcomers like Teeling, Dubliner & JJ Corry.
It marks a major change within Irish Whiskey circles where the status quo of established names has been disrupted & the hegemony of ‘premiumisation’ is challenged.
For the most part the Irish Whiskey community is ignoring these changes.
It’s interesting to note Irish Whiskey also poured scorn & ignored a previous disrupter.
His name was Aeneas Coffey with the patented continuous still.
In doing so Irish Pot Still Whisky lost the lead they had & Scotch took over with blended whisky.
Ironically the current rise of Irish Whiskey is mainly being fuelled by the very same blended whisky – this time spelled with an ‘e’ – of which Proper Twelve is making such a large contribution.
Sometimes I wonder if the Irish Whiskey community is ready for success.