I am ultimately a positive person, I have a few causes related to Irish Whiskey which I get riled up about. But I would classify any ranting about them as an effort at positive disruption. Such is the rise of our category that behemoth ‘Whisky’ Magazine has launched their Icons of Whiskey Awards for the Irish Category specifically. We were shortlisted as Brand Innovator of the Year for those awards, alongside, Hyde Whiskey, Pernod Ricard, Grants, Disaronno/Walsh and Teeling. It was great to make the shortlist but I knew from the get-go we did not have a hope in Hades of a gong. The Icon awards nominations are voted on by the Editorial Team at Whisky Magazine so getting to the shortlist is a good affirmation. The awards are then put to a public vote online. I was very pleased to make the shortlist as it was some nice recognition but winning I knew was not possible. If you are an Irish Whiskey Company selling 500,000 or 3 million cases per Annum, securing a lot of votes is fairly systematic, you simply have your distributors, customers and social media vote for you globally. If you are an indie company with 500-10,000 cases per Annum you of course apply the same strategy but the odds are stacked against you.
I’m not complaining here, just observing that the way those awards are structured will ensure that it may be a while until an Indie breaks through in a category really. Such is life. I went to the awards to say hello to everyone and it was a lovely little affair and a nice kick off to Whiskey Live. I was desperate to head to the AMAZING 16-61 bar after, but my husband joined me in Dublin and we had not seen each other in a week, so I was responsible and we had a lovely dinner together instead and I got a good night’s sleep.
It was off to Dublin Castle Bright and Early for me to set up Stand 2 for Whiskey Live. I transported pretty much our entire back office wall to the show. I did not go bananas on a stand or merchandising. I just wanted to give people a low key feel for what we are up to and get Liquid on Lips as they say. In tow with me was Aibie my Mentoree from our See It Be It program. Aibie is now studying events management at University so this was some great experience for her and I love watching her grow professionally.
I have in reality nothing but good feelings about the state of the spirit (with the occasionally outrage) just now and this is mostly because of my fellow Indies. There is a really great crew of us Indie Spirit Producers who are just now hitting the market. We have all been beavering away for 2 or 3 years getting product ready to go and we have just now all launched together. We understand each others issues and struggles in a way that nobody else does.
The IWA Mentorship program is a nice initiative but when you need a second-hand 4 Head F12 bottle Filler that does 500 bottles a day I can assure you that program won’t help. When you are having a problem figuring out your EMCS on the Revenue system or need to understand how to acquire a bond or you need a affordable glass producer recommendation who you gonna call? Another Indie producer that’s who. These issues are not 50,000 feet issues they are day to day things that we deal with all the time. Many of us are still tiny organisations with 2 or three people and the struggle is real as they say, but the struggle is also a hell of a lot of fun.
I feel like we have the beginnings of a proper ‘Crew’ now, we’ll be seeing a lot of each other at trade events and the like and most importantly collaborating on various projects and sharing PRACTICAL information with each other. There is a good atmosphere building and that was evident at WhiskeyLive. We flitted around to each others stands, tasted each others products and had the chat.
It was also great to meet so many people at the show who follow this blog and to finally share The Gael with them. I can’t tell you all how much I appreciated your kind words of support and encouragement for what I’m trying to do here. My job is to make good whiskey and ultimately to contribute positively to the evolution of this category. It is whiskey fans who will judge whether or not I do this so I really appreciate that many of you stopped by to tell me that you do. I hosted a seminar at WhiskeyLive where we deconstructed the blend of the Gael and tasted its components and there were many familiar faces in attendance there too. We’ve only been live now for 2 months really but I feel the JJ CORRY family is expanding. The Gael is showing well and I’m really proud of our first expression. Thank you all for following my story so far. Along the way your words of encouragement have really helped me.
It is great that we have our very own Whiskey Live now, (Thanks Ally and the Team) it is even better that the Indie Exhibitors will soon outnumber the Multinationals. Innovative and Independent market fragmentation is what is going to really push Irish Whiskey into the stratosphere in the long term. It will force and indeed already has forced multinationals to innovate. Method & Madness would never have happened if it was not for groundswell pressure from the Indie newcomers whether in the Irish Category or not. The Irish Indie Spirit scene has not yet fully come of age but by God is is exciting. There is quite the gang of characters involved and I expect great things. WhiskeyLive 2025 will be a Helluva show…….