Crowds of whiskey enthusiasts in New York celebrated St Patrick’s Day by taking part in a unique festival featuring two brands from Northern Ireland including the iconic Old Bushmills.
The New York Irish Whiskey Festival promoted the ‘depth and diversity’ of the golden spirit that’s now enjoying a remarkable renaissance over the past two decades and is now the fastest growing especially in the US.
Sharing the sampling sessions with Bushmills was The Quiet Man, a range of whiskeys created by Niche Drinks in Londonderry which was formed by Ciaran Mulgrew and is now owned by Luxco of St Louis, Missouri. It continues to be bottled in Londonderry by Niche Drinks, original developer Saint Brendan’s Irish cream liqueur, the first in Northern Ireland.
The New York Irish Whiskey Festival returned to Manhattan for its third year and was held in The View at Battery Park. The first-of-its-kind immersive festival provided “a unique chance to explore the dynamic category and Irish culture in a lively atmosphere”.
Belfast native Jack McGarry, who is co-owner of the Manhattan bar The Dead Rabbit with Sean Muldoon, also from the city and Irish-born entrepreneur and founder of Articulate Ventures Moira Breslin, created the festival with the aim of reaching a young, north American consumer interested in discovering something new about Irish whiskey, including premium brands.
Jack explains: “Irish whiskey is thriving in the US, and the festival celebrated classic favourites while showcasing innovative start-up brands that represent new styles of the spirit being created by small distilleries across the island.”
The bar was opened by McGarry and Muldoon, who worked together in Belfast in cocktail bars including the five-star Merchant Hotel, in 2013. They also formed another award-winning bar in Manhattan, The Black Tail, in 2015.
Moira continues: “We approached Jack to discuss the idea of a festival dedicated to Irish whiskey as we all felt that the category was greatly underserved. We wanted to create an experience where Irish whiskey could be celebrated on its own and we could show the depth and versatility of the category while debunking some of the myths surrounding it.”
Colm Egan, master distiller at Old Bushmills, states: “We were thrilled to be featured at such an important event in the US, a key market for us, as the New York Irish Whiskey Festival has become since its introduction. We look forward to continuing to work with the organisers and The Dead Rabbit Bar which is doing so much to increase awareness of the unique flavours of Irish whiskey, especially among a new generation, in New York and from further afield.”
The one-day festival showcased more than 25 Irish whiskey brands, including Bushmills, The Quiet Man, Powers, and Teeling, as well as newer brands like Lost Irish and Silkie. Guests at the festival were able to enjoy live music and Irish food.
Director of the Irish Whiskey Association, William Lavelle, adds: “The Irish Whiskey Association is delighted to support the New York Irish Whiskey Festival, which has now become one of the premier Irish whiskey festivals in the world. The festival offered a valuable showcase for Irish whiskey brands, including from craft distilleries and demonstrates the depth and diversity of the Irish whiskey category.
“The US remains the largest market in the world for Irish whiskey and more and more American consumers are choosing Irish whiskey."