This week our Irish Whiskey News features articles on St Patricks Distillery having to drop distillery wording from label and McConnells whiskey brand comes back to life after 244 years.
So let’s see what’s happening this week in our Irish whiskey news.
A prominent Cork whiskey brand has dropped the word “distillery” from its label on foot of complaints that its use was deliberately misleading and damaging to the industry’s reputation abroad. St Patrick’s Distillery in Douglas, Co Cork, had been selling a number of whiskey and gin products internationally under the “St Patrick’s Distillery” label even though it buys in whiskey from other distilleries and has no operational distillery. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is known to have received a number of complaints about the mislabelling of whiskey products here, including at least one against St Patrick’s Distillery Limited.
The company has now seemingly bowed to pressure and changed its label to simply “St Patrick’s”. General manager Cyril Walsh acknowledged the company had recently dropped the word “distillery” from its label but insisted it had never made a secret of the fact that it buys in “new-make” whiskey from elsewhere. “We don’t believe we were misleading anybody,” he said. “We’ve been open and honest about the fact that we buy in whiskey from a number of other Irish distillers and we’ve made that public knowledge in all our brochures and on the website,” Mr Walsh said. He said the name of the company was still St Patrick’s Distillery Limited and its website was still stpatricksdistillery.ie.
Last year the Food Safety Authority of Ireland published revamped guidelines on the labelling and marketing of Irish whiskey, which the IWA helped draft. They stipulate that all distilleries involved in the production of Irish whiskey must be verified by Revenue. They also state that any statements on labels that would appear to give the impression of distilling where distilling is not yet taking place is not permitted.
McConnell’s Irish Whisky, it is said, once enjoyed great popularity in the U.S. from the late 1800’s right through the early part of the 20th century until Prohibition sent it into hard times. Noted as well for reportedly being the oldest whiskey brand ever to come from Ireland, having been founded in 1776 by two brothers, John & James McConnell, it is now making a comeback to the United States after over 90 years of dormancy. The McConnell’s brand, according to those behind it, went quiet after its Belfast-based distillery closed in 1958. It has been brought back by Conecuh Brands, who is working with Great Northern Distillery to recreate the whiskey while a new distillery is being built “in the historic, Crumlin Road Jail, in Belfast, Ireland. The Crumlin Rd. Jail is not far from the original distillery site on Cromac St. The ‘Crum’ is well known for housing political prisoners from the 1840’s to 1996, before being converted into an iconic tourist attraction. Once the building is complete, the new distillery will house production, aging, a visitors’ center and a retail area.”
“We’re resurrecting one of the greatest global brands of all time, McConnell’s Irish Whisky,” said Roy Danis, President & C.E.O. of Conecuh Brands, in a prepared statement. “The opportunity to recreate a brand with such rich and deep history has been incredibly rewarding. My entire team is so excited and humbled at the same time.” What will appear in bottle for the time being is a five year old blended Irish whiskey that was aged in American oak barrels. It packaging consists of “a bottle shape inspired by a simple pill capsule, which harkens back to the original label, featuring three references from Doctors, who recommended the whisky and used to prescribe it for medicinal purposes. The label is signature green with a handsome metal plaque that reads J.&J. McConnell’s, Est. Belfast 1776, Ireland.” As it stands now plans call for McConnell’s to be bottled at 42% ABV and to price around $33.
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