This week Jim and I sat down with Tony Carroll from Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey and it got me to thinking about the influence that Irish Whiskey has had on the American Whiskey Culture. While researching I found some interesting facts. It is well known that the word whiskey itself comes from Irish Gaelic itself meaning water. No surprise there right? The Oldest distillery in the world, well one that was licensed to distill is the Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland founded in 1608.

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I also knew that most of the whiskey makers that came to American did so straight from the beautiful green isle. The thing I didn’t know was that it was American Bars or really Pubs that might have been the saving grace for Irish Whiskey. In the 19th century Irish Whiskey was dominate worldwide. That was until Irish independence in 1922 and the loss of the British Empires entire market. Coupled with American Prohibition, bad industry policies and strong competition from Scotch, the Irish Whiskey Industry was brought to its knees. By the 1980 there was just two functioning distilleries in all of Ireland.

Thanks to Jim and many like him (his last name is Shannon), the US is home to more Irish neighborhood pubs that anywhere else on earth. There are over 20 just in the Louisville area and another dozen in Lexington.  Its pubs like these that help save and spread the word again about how good Irish Whiskey really is. Take the Irish Rover that happens to carry Knappogue expressions. It has been slinging whiskey for the last 26 years and right on whiskey rows is one of my personal favorites Patrick O’sheas. Yes there is an Irish Pub right in the heart of the Urban Bourbon Trail.

So today with the help of their wild cousins on the rock as they call it, and according to the Irish Whiskey Association  there are 32 distilleries currently operating in Ireland. Now isn’t that amazing. A more amazing fact is that 40% of that whiskey is shipped straight to the good old U.S..  No surprise there right? Americans are no one trick pony. Yes we love our beer, our wine and other drinks, but Americans most certainly love a beautiful dram of whiskey or whisky depending on your palate.

So I say “May your troubles be less, and your blessings be more. And nothing but happiness come through your door.” “May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you’re dead.” “Dance as if no one were watching, sing as if no one were listening, and live every day as if it were your last.” And with those three toast grab yourself a pour of good Irish Whiskey as Jim and I take a trip down The Bourbon Road then veer off a side road adventure tasting Irelands delicious water with Tony Carroll from Knappogue Castle. Sláinte

Mike (Big Chief)