A new addition to the growing list of 40 countries where Walsh Whiskey Distillery’s The Irishman is distributed worldwide is Australia. I was recently tasked with a two week mission to launch The Irishman range there including; Founder’s Reserve, The Single Malt, The 12 Year Old Single Malt and The Irishman Cask Strength. ‘A tough assignment’ I hear you cry! That may well be…but someone had to do it mate!
I got to Sydney after a 24 hour trip and landed in Australian Winter sunshine with temperatures in the high teens, which we in Ireland would welcome in our Winter! As well as it being The Irishman whiskeys debut, it was also my own first ever trip to Australia. I was excited and agog to see what the trip would entail and the people and sights I would encounter. I knew interest in whiskey was increasing there, but I wondered how our own treasured whiskeys would be received by the Australian public.
We have launched The Irishman with a new partner and distributor, Spirits Platform, whose owner, Ian Atherton, is himself an Irish man from Dalkey. Ian moved ‘down-under’ a few decades ago but was back home in June for the official opening of our distillery at Royal Oak in County Carlow. It was there that Ian and our founder, Bernard Walsh, literally inked the deal to get The Irishman into the hands and glasses of as many of Australia’s eligible population of 24 million people as possible and making The Irishman one of the leading Irish whiskeys in Australia.
My itinerary during my visit was hectic. While there was no Barrier Reef, Alice Springs, Uluru, or Ayers Rock – I was in search of whiskey enthusiasts, the more the better, and Spirits Platform put together a great itinerary across Brisbane, Melbourne, Wollongong and Sydney. I gained great exposure to all aspects of the Australian whiskey sector along the way. In particular I saw first-hand the Australian customers’ love for sweet and dry spirits. Against that palate, it was little surprise that The Irishman was so well received and that the Single Malt with its Oloroso sherry influence was a big favourite.
As Brand Ambassador for The Irishman range I also gave interviews with the largest spirits trade publications in Australia, The Shout and The Spirits Association. Fame at last! I attended two whiskey fairs, Whiskey Live in Brisbane and The Sydney Whiskey Fair in The Oak Barrel – which is an independent liquor store like the famed Celtic Whiskey Shop in Dublin. After all of that I am happy and proud to report that The Irishman range was very well received wherever we went.
Australia’s own domestic whiskey industry is booming, particularly in Tasmania. This in turn has driven a lot of renewed consumer interest in the whiskey category generally in Australia. New whiskey bars are springing up in all the major cities so it is good timing to enter this market of 24 million people, many of whom have close connections and ties to Ireland. The vibrant market has attracted a good range of Irish whiskeys which is expanding the category and helping Australians to develop and deepen their taste for Irish whiskey.
I left Australia safe in the knowledge that The Irishman is off to a great start and is in great hands with the team at Spirits Platform. I am already looking forward to my next trip ‘down-under’ to check on progress. Like I said, someone’s got to do it…again!