Limavady Single Barrel Irish Whiskey has received a substantial boost from US experts which should help to drive export sales in what is the world’s biggest marketplace especially for whiskey and gin.
The small company, launched last year by master distiller Darryl McNally, a native of Limavady, has just been toasted as the Best Irish Whiskey 2021 by a panel of expert judges in the highly influential John Barleycorn Awards, one of the most important events in US spirits.
The competition organisers described Limavady’s outstanding first-time success as “no mean achievement”. The unique whiskey was also gained a coveted Barleycorn Gold Award.
Limavady Single Barrel Single Malt was introduced last year by Darryl, a former master distiller at Old Bushmills, on the back of the historic tradition of distilling in the area.
The experts described Limavady whiskey glowingly as “a soft and fruit forward malt with long lush, syrupy tendrils of vanilla coating creamily on every sip. This is malt silk, pure and simple, elegant and smooth on the palate”.
The prestigious US awards follow recognition of Limavady by the Beverage Institute in the UK last December as “a complex Irish Single Malt with big impact and big elegance”.
A delighted Darryl, commenting on the awards, says: “We were thrilled to achieve such significant endorsement in our primary target market so soon after the launch of our unique spirit. The US awards and UK recognition are significant developments for us as we drive sales in key international markets. It doesn’t get any better.”
Limavady is being developed by Darryl in collaboration with Whistle Pig, a leading whisky distiller in the US New England region, which entered the Northern Irish whisky in the Barleycorn awards. The whiskey was launched in the US market late last year at a series of major promotional events in cities across the nation.
The intensive marketing drive with Whistle Pig led to significant sales, Darryl continues: “The feedback from the hospitality industry and specialist journalists there was extremely positive and immensely encouraging. I’ll be returning soon to support the Whistle Pig campaign in what is a huge and intensely competitive market.”
Darryl’s launch of Limavady was the realisation of his dream of reviving a whiskey his descendants created in the 18th century on a site near the family home.
Born in a bar, Darryl worked in the pub before becoming involved in the distilling industry. During this time, he was employed by the biggest players in the Irish whiskey industry and eventually earned the title of master distiller at Old Bushmills. He has crafted over a dozen internationally awarded whiskeys, winning numerous gold medals for his employers.
Based in Dallas, Texas, the John Barleycorn Society is described as “an assemblage of the world’s top journalists and industry professionals who foster a modern approach to recognising excellence in spirits from seed to glass”.
The awards take account of taste, print and digital marketing, package design, public relations, journalism, social media, event production, filmmaking, and bar design; categories judged by its select panels.
The John Barleycorn Society is “dedicated to redefining today’s spirits awards by acknowledging the entire scope of the industry and revolutionising the process”.
Spirits writers, marketers and designers in the society are among the most influential forces in the US industry for spirits and other beverages.
The society was started by a group of respected journalists seeking to honour and promote excellence in all facets of the industry. The journalists spent several years creating a comprehensive competition that became the John Barleycorn Awards.
An elite team of authoritative and influential spirits journalists was then selected to administer the flagship component of the awards, a blind tasting competition which became the “pre-eminent arbitrator of taste, quality and character of spirits” entered in the annual event.
Limavady is the most recent whiskey business from Northern Ireland to experience varying degrees of success in the vast US marketplace. Old Bushmills, of course, remains the most successful local distillery there. Other local whiskey producers now making an impact in the market include The Sexton in Bushmills, Hinch in Ballynahinch, Dunville in Kircubbin, Two Stacks in Belfast, Rostrevor’s Killowen, Mourme Dew in Warrenpoint and The Quiet Man, Co Derry. Two Stacks has also won acclaim there and sales for its innovative Dram in a Can Irish whiskey.
New malt whiskeys from Rademon Estate Distillery in Crossgar, Strabane’s Wild Atlantic Distillery, Boatyard Distillery in Enniskillen and Scott’s in Garrison are also targeting the US for growth. As a result of the expansion in the development premium spirits such as Irish whiskey, gin, vodka and poitin, distilling has become one of Northern Ireland’s biggest exporters. Sales of Irish whiskey, in addition, are project to exceed Scotch by 2030. Irish whiskey was also the most popular there before Prohibition banned the beverage.
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