It's official: The Irish Whiskey Society of America (IWSA) is up and running.
Twenty people helped launch the Society at our first public tasting at
The Whiskey Priest
overlooking Boston Harbor on St. Patrick's Day eve (to keep Paddy's
Day clear) with good food, a 7-sample intro to Irish whiskey and a rake
of craic. IWSA Committee members prepping the evening's samples
Fáilte Go Uisce Beatha
Most attendees had tried some Irish whiskey before but mainly just Jameson and Bushmills. Our "Fáilte" tasting introduced them to Ireland's distilleries, a bit of background and history and a slightly broader range of what's out there to explore and enjoy. Our tasting line-up consisted of whiskeys readily available at most US pubs and liquors stores:
Bushmills and Black Bush from Bushmills
Tyrconnell Single Malt and Michael Collins Blend from Cooley
Jameson, Paddy and Red Breast 12 from Midleton After a good meal, onto the tasting!
The Red Breast was the favorite of the evening, followed by Black Bush, Jameson Tyrconnell and the others. By the end of the evening, the room was abuzz with conversations between
new acquaintances who were strangers a few hours before, sharing
stories and plans to connect again at our future tastings.
We'll be posting our calendar of future tastings shortly, each with a theme related to specific distilleries, brands whiskey styles (single malts, finishes, unfiltered, peat, etc.) and even broader topics like food pairings and other interests. So stay tuned.Serious Fun
The Irish Whiskey Society in Dublin is our model. They have done a brilliant job of building a vibrant, growing, accomplished and well-organized group with regular monthly meetings and associated activities, including commissioning their own bottlings. It's the opposite of a gathering of purist whiskey snobs discussing the merits of non-chill filtering, fusol oils and the like as if it were an ideology. It's fun, and it's supposed to be. As they will tell you, they are serious about the whiskey, without taking it -- or themselves -- too seriously.
We too are taking time and care to build a solid and lasting organization that will expand to cities across America. The Boston group will be the model for starting new chapters. We are doing our homework, if you will, on everything from finance, legal matters, technical infrastructure, recordkeeping, member benefits, relationships with distillers and distributors, organization and management, and even the basic of how to conduct tastings. We aim to make it easier for you start your own chapter by having done much of the legwork upfront, a bit like a franchise model. Offering membership sign-up online with well-defined benefits is coming shortly.Hello Out There In Whiskey Land
I've heard from a number of you interested in attending the Boston meetings and in starting a local chapter (Hello's to Jim in upstate NY, Megan in DC, Tom in Maine, Peter in Ohio, Michael in MN, Michael N. and Barry in Chicago, among others.) Keep in touch over the next few months as we grow.It's All About...
Yes, we focus on the whiskey at tastings, for sure. But in the end the whiskey -- and the IWSA -- really isn't about drinking. It's the connections, the conversations, the stories and the conviviality sparked by our shared interests in whiskey, in heritage and -- most of all -- the craic.