World toasting quality and unique flavours of our spirits

Rademon Estate Distillery in Crossgar, Co Down recently won its first international quality award for a single malt whiskey launched late last year.

By Sam Butler
Saturday, 7th May 2022, 7:00 am

The whiskey from the family-owned distillery, which gained a prestigious gold award in the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC2022), was among a host of original spirits from Northern Ireland distilleries to win prestigious IWSC award. The competition is an annual celebration of the world’s best spirits.

The highly coveted awards clearly highlight that local spirits are now increasingly winning international recognition for outstanding quality and distinctive tastes. And Irish whiskey, according to projections from Drinks Ireland in Dublin, is poised to overtake Scotch shortly as the world’s leading golden spirit.

Spirits from local distillers, now selling in over 30 countries, are also fast becoming major export successes for the economy here. Indeed, IWSC 2022 was the most successful ever for Northern Ireland distilleries.

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First gold for Shortcross single malt whiskey from Fiona and David Boyd Armstrong in Crossgar

The latest success for Rademon, best known for its multi-award winning Shortcross Gin – the first local craft gin in over a century – comes as the small distillery also launches the first rye and malt whiskey.

David Boyd Armstrong, Rademon’s master distiller, who formed the distillery with wife Fiona in 2014 to widespread acclaim and success in global markets. The gin is now in sale in over 30 international markets. Shortcross single malt whiskey gained its first recognition as ‘Best New Whiskey’ in the Irish Whiskey Awards last year.

Shortcross, also gained gold at IWSC for its novel Angel’s Edition gin.

“We are thrilled to receive this recognition so soon after the launch of our whiskey,” says David. “It will help to increase awareness internationally about the quality of our spirit.”

Joe McGirr of Boatyard Double Gin in Enniskillen won gold for his unique gin

Another recent launch, McConnell’s 5-year-old whiskey, marketed by Belfast Distillery, which is planning to produce the spirit in the old Crumlin Road Gaol, also gained an IWSC gold medal. It has just signed distribution deals in North America, Europe and Britain.

There was a first gold too for Mourne Dew’s single malt whiskey from Warrenpoint using a unique vacuum distilling process developed by master distiller Donal Farrell.

The most successful whiskey producer in the global competition, inevitably, was Old Bushmills, Northern Ireland’s best known and most successful exporter of whiskey, which won three golds and a silver. Bushmills is now among the most highly regarded and most successful distillers. It is now among Northern Ireland’s best-known global brands.

The historic distillery, now owned by Mexico’s Jose Cuervo tequila producer since 2014, gained gold for its Black Bush blend and its 16-year-old and 21-year-old single malts at ISC. In addition, the company, regarded as the world’s oldest licensed distillery, was awarded silver for its 12-year-old single malt.

Gareth Irvine, the founder of Copeland Distillery which won the overall best gin as well as golds for its vodka and poitin

Bushmills whiskeys were entered by Proximo, the New York based global marketing agency behind the recent initiatives by the distillery which was once the only one in Northern Ireland and one of just three on the island of Ireland.

Furthermore, Proximo entered The Sexton, another whiskey from original spirit distilled at Bushmills. The Sexton, which also won a gold medal at IWSC, is currently the biggest selling single Irish malt whiskey in the US. Interestingly, The Sexton was created by master distiller Alex Thomas for Proximo.

Alex, who gained her knowledge and expertise at Old Bushmills, is now the master distiller at the historic distillery.

The company is now among the world’s most successful whiskey distillers. Old Bushmills and The Sexton were also recently named among the 10 Best Irish

Colum Egan, master distiller at Old Bushmills which won three gold awards

Whiskeys by the influential Good Housekeeping Institute. The Co Antrim distillery’s 10-year-old single malt was named at number five as the ‘Best with a Splash of Water’ in the prestigious list. The list, compiled by an expert panel, featured The Sexton Irish Single Malt – at number four and the ‘Best for Burnt Sugars’.

Distilled at Echlinville in Kircubbin, Jawbox Gin also received IWSC golds for its classic gin and export strength gin. There was gold too for Boatyard Double Gin in Enniskillen; gold for Limavady single barrel whiskey; and golds for Niche Drinks for its Tesco Finest Irish Cream Liqueur, Gingerbread Latte Irish Cream Liqueur and Tesco Finest Caramel Liqueur and Marks and Spencer Traditional Irish Cream Liqueur, all produced in Derry.

Copeland Distillery in Donaghadee won the overall world’s best gin title; gold for its vodka; and silver for another gin. Copeland won silver for its rum. Ninth Wave Gin from Hinch in Ballynahinch also won a silver.

The IWSC sets the international benchmark for quality, standing out in the crowded world of drinks awards with hundreds of global experts including buyers, producers, distillers, sommeliers and distributors.

In the San Francisco Spirits Competition, Limavady single barrel whiskey won gold and Titanic in Belfast silver for its whiskey which will soon be distilled at the historic Pumphouse in Titanic Quarter.