Not content to leave the Celts have anything of their own the English have been distilling whiskey.
Irish whiskey has been on the kind of upward trajectory that all industries dream of. Growing year after year, pandemic be dammed. This year Irish whiskey is set to overtake Scotch as the most coveted spirit in America. A feat that seemed impossible as recently as 2012.
With the massive growth of the sector, there have also been new players. Japanese whiskey has been gaining momentum here, and Canadian whiskey took root a few years ago. But it has been the Irish, the Scots and Americans that remained the contenders to emulate.
Now the English want to get in on the action. There are now the same amount of active English whiskey distilleries in operation as there are in Ireland; forty. The oldest has been distilling for about twenty years. It’s predicted that by 2023, English whisky sales will rise by 418 per cent compared to 2019.
They have been marketing their whiskey as “a welcome relief from the increasingly corporate world of Scotch”. Though anyone who knows Scotch knows how many stalwart independent producers there are.
It’s worth noting, though, that English whisky isn’t new — old enough records exist of distilleries in London, Liverpool, and Bristol. But it died a full-on death during the nineteenth century. When St George’s Distillery in Norfolk bottled its first whisky in 2009, it was the first time in a century that single malt whisky had been made in England.
Similar to the regulating bodies Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) and Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which operate in Ireland and Scotland to protect whiskey quality, the EWG has been set up to help protect, encourage, and showcase the whiskies coming out of England.
Every whiskey distillery operating in England cites either Scotland, Ireland, or America as their inspiration. So at least they know they’re in homage mode. Something tells me it’s unlikely that any of these distilleries are likely to.
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