Irish Distillers, Ireland’s leading supplier of spirits and wines and producer of the world’s most well-known and successful Irish whiskeys, has been named Distiller of the Year at the first Icons of Whisky Ireland awards. The Icons of Whisky Ireland aim to recognise the diversity and passion within the Irish whiskey industry today, they are presented by Rob Allanson, Editor of Whisky Magazine and include the Hall of Fame Ireland ceremony. Irish Distillers was also honoured with a number of top accolades including Visitor Attraction of the Year, Master Blender and the Irish Whiskey Brand Ambassador categories.
Commenting on the significant achievement, Jean-Christophe Coutures, Chairman and CEO of Irish Distillers said: “We are delighted to have been acknowledged with such a prestigious range of awards in this year’s Icons of Whisky Ireland. To receive recognition in a number of areas from whiskey tourism to innovation from our industry peers is extremely special. It is also a tribute to the growth and success of Irish whiskey and Jameson that the organisers of the Icons of Whisky, Whisky Magazine, decided Ireland warranted its own category from this year.”
Jameson Distillery Bow St was recognised as the top visitor attraction, which is particularly significant following the €11m redevelopment of Jameson Distillery Bow St in 2017. Despite being closed for six months to accommodate construction, Jameson Distillery Bow St saw a surge in visitors as whiskey enthusiasts, local and international, have flocked to enjoy the new look distillery and the new experiences it offers.
Ray Dempsey, General Manager at Jameson Distillery Bow St, stated: “This is a fantastic endorsement of the hard work our team has carried out in the redevelopment and opening of the brand-new Jameson Distillery Bow St. We’ve been bowled over by the goodwill and feedback from everyone who has come to our home on Bow St to touch, smell and most importantly, taste Jameson in the original Bow St Distillery building.”
Billy Leighton, Master Blender at Irish Distillers accepted the Master Blender Award on the night. Commenting on the accolade he said: “Although I have the privilege of accepting this award, this win is down to the dedication, commitment and the passion of everyone at Midleton Distillery. This award is a testament to the hard work we have put in through our commitment to innovation. This quest to innovate and build the category has helped us to create a portfolio of whiskeys that can be enjoyed worldwide and offers something for every occasion, every palate and price.”
Advocating on behalf of Irish whiskey is central to the Irish Distillers mission and this was celebrated at the awards when Gerard Garland, Advocacy Team Manager and Irish Whiskey Ambassador, received the coveted Irish Whiskey Brand Ambassador 2017 Award. Speaking on the night he said: “I am truly honoured to accept this award. My job involves championing Irish whiskey and its production process, but it never feels like work. Since I joined the industry almost 20 years ago, I have been proud to help tell the story of Irish whiskey to people from all around the world. It’s always great to help increase the interest in and passion for Irish whiskey. I am delighted for the whole team tonight as we see that the industry is just as excited about quality Irish whiskey as we are.
Irish Distillers was also highly commended in the Brand Innovator category and Paul Wickham was highly commended in the Distillery Manager category. The night celebrated a wide range of established and new whiskey brands and distilleries, highlighting the continued renaissance that Irish whiskey is experiencing in recent years.