With St. Patrick’s Day behind us, we can all admit that we aren’t really Irish and go back to drinking bourbon and non-green beer. If you’re now addicted to Irish whiskey though, you should at least know from where it actually comes.
Most people can name a half-dozen distilleries in Kentucky alone, but that’s not the case in Ireland. While Irish whiskey is far and away the fastest growing spirit in the U.S., it’s more than likely that every brand you’ve ever heard of came from one of three distilleries and is owned by Suntory, Pernod Ricard, or Diego. And no, regardless of how many shots of it you took yesterday, Jameson Distillery isn’t one of them.
What, you’ve never heard of Cooley Distillery? That’s probably because there isn’t a flagship Cooley whiskey. You aren’t completely in the dark though because you’ve likely heard of some of their other options.
Jim Beam (now owned by Suntory) recently bought the Cooley Distillery, and when they did, Founder John Teeling’s kids purchased nearly 20 years worth of the stocks to create Teeling Irish Whiskey. For now it’s technically Cooley’s hooch though.
Unlike Cooley, Midleton Distillery actually slapped their name on a bottle, Midleton Very Rare. Contrary to the name though, it’s not that difficult to find. It’s just expensive at $140/bottle. It’s some of their other whiskeys of which you’ve probably had more than your fair share.
Midleton Very Rare
Pernod Ricard has owned Mildleton since 1988 when they bought Irish Distillers, which at the time controlled all whiskey production in Ireland.
Bushmills Distillery went the opposite direction from the other two distilleries. Instead of multiple brands, they produce an array of whiskies all under the Bushmill’s label. Just to confuse things though, they also send off some whiskey to be used in Tullamore Dew over at Midleton, and they buy whiskey from Midleton to use in Black Bush.
Bushmills single malt (10, 12, 16, 21-year)
Bushmills was part of Irish Distillers, which Pernod owned, up until Diafeo bought Bushmills in 2005. You’ve probably only recently heard Bushmills thanks to Diageo’s major production and marketing push.
At the end of the day, the biggest international liquor distributors own all of the Irish whiskey you’ve ever consumed and produce it at just three distilleries.