Food & Drink

Busting Myths One Pour At a Time: The New York Irish Whiskey Festival Returns After Two-Year Hiatus

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Amongst North American audiences, Irish whiskey is poised for a second within the solar. The fast-growing class’s U.S. gross sales were up over 16% in 2021, and by some estimates, the spirit might overtake Scotch’s stateside footprint throughout the subsequent decade. As with most boozy traits, occasion organizers have taken notice, their progress solely quickly slowed by COVID-related delays.

In 2019, Moira Breslin based The New York Irish Whiskey Festival to present Irish whiskey a foothold within the metropolis’s ultra-competitive reside occasions area. The inaugural occasion — showcasing each large and craft manufacturers — happened in November 2019 and was billed as America’s first Irish whiskey pageant. That occasion attracted 25 presenting manufacturers and a high-profile partnership with The Dead Rabbit, one in every of NYC’s most esteemed and awarded watering holes.

Quick ahead greater than two years later, and the Competition’s second version returned to Decrease Manhattan’s waterfront on Saturday, March 12, 2022. Drinkhacker was in attendance on the max-capacity occasion, sampling an expanded lineup of drams, together with Irish-inspired appetizers, reside music, and even a pop-up barbershop.

Shortly after, we caught up with Breslin and The Useless Rabbit homeowners/founders Sean Muldoon & Jack McGarry to speak about Irish whiskey’s development, busting myths surrounding the spirit, and what the long run spells for Irish whiskey followers in america and past.

Notice: The interviews under seem in two elements. These interviews have been evenly edited for readability.

Moira Breslin

Drinkhacker: Inform us a bit about how The New York Irish Whiskey Competition first took place. Did any particular occasions, festivals, or spirits gatherings initially encourage you? 

Moira Breslin: The Irish whiskey class is presently experiencing double-digit development, with gross sales not too long ago reaching an all-time excessive in 2021. But there was no particular second devoted to celebrating this particular class till The New York Irish Whiskey Competition. We had been impressed by the immersive bourbon festivals taking up New York, however there was nothing fairly like this for the Irish whiskey class. We needed to draw millennial cocktail fans seeking to discover the rising class and Irish tradition in a energetic, modern environment.

Drinkhacker: How was planning for this 12 months’s pageant impacted by COVID? 

Moira Breslin: After our two-year hiatus as a result of pandemic, we really feel extraordinarily grateful we had been capable of conduct this 12 months’s pageant. We labored intently with the town and the manufacturers to make sure we had been following really helpful authorities tips and laws so we might in the end host an occasion that was protected and arranged.

Drinkhacker: How did you supply model companions? 

Moira Breslin: Our companions in The New York Irish Whiskey Competition are Irish whiskey specialists, Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry of the [award-winning bar] The Useless Rabbit. With The Useless Rabbit institution sustaining one in every of (if not the biggest) collections of Irish whiskey, totally different manufacturers throughout the class had been naturally within the alternative to take part.

Drinkhacker: How did your private love of Irish whiskey start?

Moira Breslin: Born in Eire, I affiliate Irish whiskey with good individuals and good occasions! It’s extremely thrilling to see the expansion within the class within the U.S. and the regular circulate of innovation popping out of this.

Drinkhacker: For these simply beginning their exploration of Irish whiskey as a class, what are some useful suggestions or issues to bear in mind? 

Moira Breslin: There are such a lot of superb Irish whiskey manufacturers in the marketplace and every has one thing distinctive to supply. From manufacturers like Bushmills which continues to dominate the one malt class with ongoing annual releases together with most not too long ago their 12-year-old expression, to Redbreast, and Knappogue Citadel to distinctive blends from manufacturers like Jameson, Slane, Roe & Co, and lots of extra – there’s actually an Irish whiskey for each degree and style desire.

Drinkhacker: Is Irish whiskey an missed class in america? In that case, why? 

Moira Breslin: Irish whiskey is experiencing big development within the U.S., however there are nonetheless some misconceptions surrounding the class — whereas there’s at all times extra to be finished when it comes to consciousness, the truth that it’s set to outpace Scotch in gross sales over the following decade is a large indicator that buyers have gotten extra accustomed to the class and there’s an urge for food for extra depth and variety in Irish whiskey.

Drinkhacker: What are the most typical misconceptions you hear about Irish whiskey, significantly amongst American drinkers? 

Moira Breslin: As talked about, there are some widespread misconceptions about Irish whiskey, one being that it’s primarily for taking photographs, however it’s so way more than pickleback photographs… for all the explanations listed above!

Drinkhacker: How would you prefer to see the Competition change or develop within the coming years? 

Moira Breslin: We’re excited to advance the pageant because the class continues to develop and evolve. Subsequent 12 months we’re excited to implement much more thrilling moments, serve specialty cocktails, host seminars on Irish whiskey, talk about the way forward for the class, and make use of the spectacular out of doors space for serving heat drinks corresponding to Irish coffees and sizzling toddies.

Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry 

Drinkhacker: How did The Useless Rabbit get entangled with the New York Irish Whiskey Competition? 

Muldoon and McGarry: Moira Breslin of Articulate Ventures first approached us to debate the thought of a pageant devoted to Irish whiskey. As we shared in her sentiment that the class was tremendously underrepresented, we had been instantly excited by an expertise for shoppers to get to know the Irish whiskey class and in addition debunk a few of the myths surrounding it.

Drinkhacker: What are the most typical misconceptions you hear about Irish whiskey, significantly amongst American drinkers? 

Muldoon and McGarry: We don’t assume the common whiskey drinker is essentially conscious that there are totally different kinds of Irish whiskey – not every little thing is a mix! There are single malt, pot nonetheless, grain, and blended classes, and every has its personal distinctive processes and components.

Drinkhacker: Past yourselves, who’re some impactful influencers and groundbreakers in increasing Irish whiskey’s recognition in america? 

Muldoon and McGarry: Grasp blenders and grasp distillers from distilleries throughout Eire have had a huge impact on the class and its recognition. Given their hands-on experience, persons are excited by listening to from them straight about totally different merchandise and what makes them distinctive.

Drinkhacker: What ought to Individuals be enthusiastic about on the subject of the expansion of Irish whiskey? 

Muldoon and McGarry: There’s hundreds to be enthusiastic about – as homeowners of an Irish bar, we’re at all times in search of new and fascinating expressions so as to add to our repertoire of choices for shoppers so the continued innovation popping out of Eire could be very thrilling. Extra selection within the classes simply means extra alternatives and choices for shoppers, which we expect could be very thrilling.

Photos courtesy Joanna Lin and David Gannon

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