Season 2 begins March 1, 2023!
Barrel Room Chronicles
Jan. 21, 2022

BRC EP 1 - The Irishman and Writers Tears

On this premiere episode of Barrel Room Chronicles, Bernard Walsh shares  his whiskey journey, while tasting through several expressions from his brand, Writers Tears.  Bernard also talks about his involvement with  Left Bank, a documentary about four remarkable women who made the first publication of Ulysses (by author James Joyce) possible in 1922—and  lastly, he tells us about the recent acquisition of the Walsh Whiskey company by the Amber Beverage Group.

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BRC - Eps 1 Walsh Whiskey

Kerry: [00:00:00] Welcome to the barrel room Chronicles. I'm Carrie Moynahan, S certified bourbon steward, former bartender and all around whiskey officiant auto. I traveled the world to explore whiskey from every avenue for the last 20 years. I've been helping others tell their stories through television, film, and other media, but now I'm taking my love for whiskey and my experience in the entertainment industry to uncover the fascinating stories of the water of life.

So kick off your shoes, pour yourself a DRAM and join me for this premiere episode. As I speak with Irish whiskey maker, Bernard Walsh, founder of the Walsh whiskey company. First, we'll take a peek inside the DRAM diaries.

The history of whiskey begins in Ireland around 1080. When Christian monks brought distilling techniques back from the Mediterranean, they then modified the techniques to create a drinkable spirit called Husky Betha or , which meant the water of life [00:01:00] later became the word whiskey as it is known today.

Fast forward to the 18th century. The demand for Irish whiskey was great and Ireland was home to 1,228 registered distilleries. Unfortunately, an act of parliament placing a tax on production passed in 1779, forcing many distilleries underground by 1790, only 246. Licensed distilleries remained in Ireland and by 1821, that number had fallen at two only 30.

Thankfully in 1823, authorities finally reformed the existing legislation, making distilling more attractive for prospective licensees by 1827. The number of licensed distilleries in Ireland had risen to 82 and by 1835 to 93, by now, Irish whiskey had become the most popular spirit in the world. So how did the industry all but disappear in a matter of decades at the turn of the 20th century, tremendous change came to Ireland.

The MRR isle went through a war of independence, civil war, and then a [00:02:00] trade war from the 1920s to thirties, which cut off whiskey exports to its biggest markets. Additionally, due to the nationwide prohibition on alcohol sales in the United. Exports to the U S we're non-existent from 1920 to 1933. All of these factors greatly impacted the Irish whiskey industry and forced the closure of many distilleries by the 1960s.

There were only a small handful of brands and makers left. And in 1966, Jamieson powers and court distilleries merged their operations to form Irish distillers. But the 1970s, only two Irish whiskey producers remained Irish distillers and Bushmills out of Northern Ireland. And the 1970s and eighties whiskey was losing market shares to clear spirits, such as tequila, gin, and vodka, pretty much all over the world.

However, Irish whiskey began its remarkable yet slow resurgence in 1987, when the first new Irish whiskey distillery opened its doors in over a century, but things didn't really start picking up for Irish whiskey until the early two thousands. [00:03:00] Today, there are more than 32 whiskey distilleries operating on the island with several others in development and under construction.

Many of which will be introduced on this program. The first to be featured on the show is Bernard Walsh, founder of Walsh whiskey, and the creator of the Irishman and writers' tears, Irish whiskeys. Up next, I speak with Mr. Walsh about his two brands and his personal whiskey journey. Stay with us.

Good evening. Good afternoon. Good morning to me. Good afternoon to you. I believe.

Bernard Walsh: Good morning America. This is a Arland calling.

Kerry: Great. So today's on today's show. We have Bernard Welch and he is very fascinating to me. And so we called him up and said, please come and tell your story. So before I get into too much about Bernard, I'm going to let him tell us the story and.

Can you tell us about your whiskey journey? Cause I know that you and Rosemary, your wife established the Walsh whiskey company back in 1999, [00:04:00] but where did your journey actually begin? Like where did your love for whiskey start?

Bernard Walsh: Well, okay. You you're, you're sort of bringing me back now and before I chat, I'm actually just pouring myself a writer's tears here.

Oh, nice. I'm just going to let her warm up while we sort of chat. So I like to have it sort of working with the last week, so it's ready. All

Kerry: right. Well then I'll do that.

Bernard Walsh: Let you just do a little bit of quality control first

Kerry: and that'll be the copper pot, right?

Bernard Walsh: There's there's copper pot and we'll come back by that in a minute.

Okay, so listen, you're, you're bringing me back there in 1999. Wow. It doesn't feel like it, but it's it's 22 years of my life and that's that's first into anybody's life. But in whiskey terms, it's not, it's not long, is it 22 years in whiskey terms at any long, but yeah.

I'm I suppose my introduction to whisky, if I, if I really want to say I go back to my farming roots because I'm a farmer's son one of nine from county Tipperary in Ireland. And yeah, no, and my parents did not [00:05:00] drink to not drink whiskey to not drink. But my grandparents did and my grandfather he, he he loved his whiskey.

Unfortunately he was blind for the latter part of his life and every day my grandmother would take him for long walks and they'd get back to the house at about 11, 11:00 AM and they'd sit down typically by the fire because, often cold and wet here, nine months of the year anyway, and yeah, a snuggle up and he always had an Irish.

And that was my I'd get the lickings of it last cause I was only a chap then and I get the lickings of a class and it's, it sort of intrigued me a little a little bit. And that was my first taste of whiskey. But anyway it was a long journey from there til when I actually got involved in the business 22 years ago, 1999, but in the interim like all good Irish families, the yellow list stayed on the farm, did a wonderful job as a farmer and the rest of us were educated and scattered to the four winds edible skeleton for Winston.

I happened to get involved in software technology and has just a wonderful 15, 16 years in that industry and [00:06:00] travel the world and. But always, I was always brought back to my agricultural roots because of my travels. And particularly I remember in France and Italy, my time, my days off will be spent in visiting vineyards.

And I just loved walking through the the vines. I just loved everything about that and how they took the grape and just transformed into this beautiful liquid called wine as a, for me, or our grape is barley and our wine is whiskey. And I just loved how we transform this into a beautiful aromatic liquid called whiskey.

And that was a seed was planted. And ultimately like a lot of Irish, we do want to get back home. And so myself and my wife, rose Marie traveled back to Ireland and took the opportunity just to change a direction in our career. And we started out in a whiskey and the cure business. Just because it was something that we were passionate about, not we didn't know too much about it at the time.

It was , very, very interesting, but I was welcomed with [00:07:00] open arms by the Irish whiskey industry, which amazingly was only three distillers today we have like 38 and it, depending on what day of the week, it's growing, but there was only three houses on the island. You had Middleton, which was on by our students down south.

And then up north, we had Bushmills which again was owned by our facilities. And then you had a coupe, Hulu, Syrian and that was it. Incredibly, nobody was knocking down the doors in 99, looking for Irish whiskey. And, I spent a huge amount of time with the chops.

Our stillers learnt a hell of a lot, traveled to Scotland, learned from the Scots as well. Open-plan grants and Dennis Malcolm, just wonderful people, just wonderful one for people. But to my dismay, when I went to market, if you like to talk to people, to talk to people in the bars and so forth, nobody was looking for another Irish whiskey.

We have one it's there, and I was, I had to sort of bite my lip and then say, okay, well, I'm going to do this anyway. So I ignored all the great [00:08:00] advice I got and entered the gap in the market where there was no gap

Kerry: and there was a gap they just didn't want to, they didn't want to say there was a gap, but there was a gap, but it was,

Bernard Walsh: but let's say ignorance or my lack of maybe a know-how at the time was great because it just kept me going.

And what you need in any business is resilience. And what you need in the whiskey business is extreme resilience. It's a long term project, and that's what I love. It's like farming, you're looking down, years ahead. You're always, you're not looking over your shoulder, you're looking at well next year.

I w w we are always looking long-term. So I love that. So yeah, it's very simply started there. I was also, I suppose, a couple of things were going on in my head at the time, what was happening in the U S with bourbon in the early two thousands. And I was really excited about that. And also.

I suppose I was enviable of what the Scots had done weight, especially single malt and how they had brought that the Scott [00:09:00] Scottish offering and moved, okay. Yes. College plans very popular, but everything that happened within that more category whether it's the word they were at, the cask finishes and so forth, it was just so much excitement around that.

And none of that was happening in the Irish because there was no, no competition, no need to do is it was all right. That's understandable. That's fine. So very much we sought as our job to really try and get our whiskey back to where it was a hundred and 150 years ago. And the diversity in the taste profile of Irish whiskey back then was, so much different.

And so we set ourselves a challenge of broadening out the taste profile of Irish whiskey. And we're one of, many of an army of people in the Irish whiskey industry trying to do that. We, we were lucky, we were one of the early folk there of some of the pioneers and we're right in the middle of a, an Irish whiskey Renaissance as well.

Kerry: Yeah. So, let's talk about the Irishman really quick. I know that's not what we're here to talk about, but is that what you started your profile? Yeah,

Bernard Walsh: listen I'm here to always talk about my [00:10:00] babies. Then I have two of them. I got the Irish man and writer's tears. And just so that we don't miss out.

So this is the Irish man. The arch man focuses mainly on the, the mold side of the house, the single mold mold side. And it's very traditional look and feel. And I had two things pulling up me and if you like in the, in my whisky quest, so one was, be true to the traditions and been very traditionalist.

And that's what the ocean represents to me, of course. And the other side was the rebel in me. And, in the Irish heads is always the ying and yang. Well, the rebels just do something very, very different. And that's what writers' tears. What? So here we go. Let's go. We bottled out here. I've also been nipping up my box here.

So even in, in look the name, everything about it. It was left of center. From what was an offer from our shoes, from the Irish whiskey category. And[00:11:00] if you look at the bottle of you you'll see the influence, the bourbon influence, I love the edginess of what was happening with bourbon in the early two thousands.

And that's what we've tried to bring to writers' tears.

Kerry: Did you come up with that name for traditional reasons? I mean, how did that come to be?

Bernard Walsh: Yeah, it's a, again, like everything in, in, in Ireland, history is never too far away. When it comes to Irish whiskey but with, with the name as well I suppose I was.

Moved by a great Irish Patriot Wolfe tone, who back in 1798, talked about an Ireland where he would not be known as a Catholic Nora at the center, but just an Irish man. And, we have, money, money. We've had many troubles in this aisle over the hundreds of years. And yeah, I really, I look forward to the, when, we're just Irish, we're Irish men, Irish people no matter what your color creed [00:12:00] is we're all together.

And that's the beautiful thing about Irish whiskey. Uh, It is the whole island north, south on the island is a category that's defined within the island. So w we have a geographical indication here in Europe for Irish whiskey, similar to the Scottish and champagne and cognac. And it's not, not others. It's not just the Republic of Ireland.

It is the whole island. So we're United in whiskey. That's how awesome.

Kerry: That's awesome. So, tell me, how did writers' tears come about and give us a little background too, on how you chose the name for this one.

Bernard Walsh: We'll be here a while. I bet. Yeah. Hmm. So, your listeners and viewers will, will be familiar with the Irish whiskey story and the history around it.

And how, a hundred, 200 years ago, Irish whiskey was quite big. In fact, it was a golden era for, for Irish whiskey. And I'll come back to the history that whiskey piece in a minute, but also for Irish literature. [00:13:00] The writing data, the great geniuses of the time we're out of Ireland, we're out of Dublin, we're out of the west of Ireland from your country carry it was an incredible boom in literature.

So you have the likes of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw. The list goes on even pre that Jonathan swift Brahm Stoker who wrote Dracula, all these amazing guys emanating out of Ireland and just it, it was a golden era for us writing. And if you have been to Dublin, you will see occasionally there'll be, some of the old bars will have a plaque outside or inside saying,, this is where this is where beacon use drink.

This is where James Joyce would have a drop, et cetera. And the story is told that, you know what? They go there. Observed life. So what are they sat inside and look looked out or sat inside looking at the the clientele, but they, they sat there observing life and drinking. Their whiskey whiskey was very popular back in the 18 hundreds.

And the story is told that they could be there for an hour, a day, [00:14:00] a week. Nobody knew how long they were there for observing life. But what I did know is that when they cried, their tears were off whiskey. So we adopted that lovely sort of story of the scribe, if you like and how it just coincided with the golden era of Irish whiskey as well.

Kerry: That's awesome. That's really awesome. So tell me what is writers' tears involvement with the the film project about James Joyce?

Bernard Walsh: A couple of things We have, we've always had an like, personally and then there's work, but on both fronts, I've always had an interest in, in our great writers.

And I got an opportunity to help out a, a bunch of friends who operated and run SU Sweeney's pharmacy, or was a chemist. And this was a famous chemist in Dublin. It's an Lincoln place just at the back end of Trinity college in Dublin. And this Sweeney's chemist was in [00:15:00] operation during Joyce's time.

And he incorporated this into his book, Ulysses and this Mr. Bloom, who, who spends one day wandering through Dublin at the EULA, says this magnificent. Possibly the greatest novel of the 20th century at about one guy he's he's day traveling around Dublin and he calls into Sweeney's and it's it, it plays a part in, in uses, but unfortunately the chemist and I, I think it was 2009 ceased to exist, and the, the line, et cetera.

And a number of joy Joycey and enthusiasts came together said, listen, we'll keep the doors open. And instead of, us dispensing tinctures of ornaments and forth. We'll actually, we'll make it a bookstore as well, a secondhand bookstore, and that all went, and this was really important. This is an amazing piece of history that could have been lost and has been saved by these enthusiasts who only had the, the [00:16:00] shillings in the dollars in their pocket to keep the doors open.

Unfortunately, the land, it's in a very property wise, you prestigious part of Dublin and the rent was just going up and up and open. The Sweeney's found themselves that they could no longer pay the rent. So we took the opportunity to come in and help them to keep the doors open by paying some of the rent for them.

So that's was very nice. My first sort of connection with the Joyce in story. And then We, I hear about this documentary being made about Ulysses, which next year 2022 it will be the 100 anniversary of uses. So I hear about the story that, well, there's a documentary made, but not about necessarily about Joyce or not necessarily about some of the amazing venues around Dublin, but by it's about four women.

And these are the four women who without them Ulysses would not have seen the light of day. And I just love this. I got four daughters, so there's a, just, [00:17:00] I would love my four daughters to know about this. These women need to be celebrated. These. The footage of these women was incredible because the, this book was banned in the U S of a, Hey, the, I think it's the first 2000, the first edition that was 2000 produced in England of which 500 made their way to north America and to the U S and I believe most of the 500.

These, they were strange times. So anyway, we're lucky. We are really lucky and privileged that writers' tears can actually lend a hand. We want to shine the light on this one. We want to make sure that the story is told. So, yeah, that's awesome. Really.

Kerry: And the Kickstarters that's still happening right now.

Is that a current or are they, did they reach their goal? Are they ready to go? They,

Bernard Walsh: they have reached a goal. So, we got, we, we got that done and dusted. So again, it's looking at it. It's looking really, really promising.

Kerry: Oh, that's very cool. I, when I was looking at [00:18:00] that story, I thought, oh, this is amazing.

Cause I always, I always like to find out about women in whiskey history and women in every kind of history, because I always feel like behind every good man is a good woman doing something to promote the man to,

Bernard Walsh: enjoys this case. That's so true in my case, that's so true because my wife, Rosemary, it was together with her.

We started this business and she's kept me on the straight and narrow since. And that's awesome.

Kerry: Okay, well, let's talk about this first expression that we've been sipping on. This is the copper pot

and, and what was the first expression of writers' tears and how many, how long did it take before you had multiple expressions?

Bernard Walsh: Right before I answer, I really have to.

Kerry: That's totally fine. Understandable. It's

Bernard Walsh: so delicious. It's part of the job. I love it. So with all our whiskeys, again, I lean on history a lot and weed writers' [00:19:00] tears in particular.

So for me, the, the, the embers for this great whiskey came from our research into our whiskey in the 18 hundreds could even say maybe late 17 hundreds. In the 17 and 18 hundreds, 1800 particular, two styles of whiskey dominated here in Ireland. Pottsville Irish whiskey. And malt whiskey. So, and I don't know if we, if we have time to go into the, the, the parcel story, but I'm sure there's something that's quite unique to Arash whiskey.

In, in Scotland, you've got your single malt and you've got your grain whiskey, and then your, your plans of those in Ireland, we have one extra style called single pot, still whiskey which really was created out of necessity. If you like. There were taxes brought in, in the 17 hundreds on Irish whiskey.

Kerry: Let me, let me guess.

Bernard Walsh: Well, let's see our friends across the pond. It was, it was a malt whiskey [00:20:00] tax. Ultimately it was a tax that was put on the malting barley because of course with whiskey. Divert one pipe in a wall to that tank and another one to that barrel. And you can cut your tax bill that way, but the authorities are wise to that.

So ultimately they said, I don't care how much whiskey you make. It's we're, we're, we're, we're texting them. It's the barley, which is molted. And the tonnage of barley comes in and so forth. So that was, that was the tax. So to avoid tax or to reduce their tax bill. So very efficient tax planning the Irish distillers started to introduce and change the Nashville's.

So instead of using all motor, partly bringing in over cereals, most importantly, on molted barley into the mash bill, so that had a wow effect on the, on the whiskey. So this developed into. Whisky, they are grew to love and adopt to be your ultimate in Irish whiskey, which was a very spicy, [00:21:00] creamy full-bodied whiskey.

And this was adopted in Ireland. It was adopted in north America and the U S as this is the go-to whiskey of the wild west and through the 18 hundreds potstill and malt whiskeys were where the stilled, the, the grain whiskeys. So let's say the still from a column still invented by an Irish man, or I shouldn't say invented by an Archer patented by an Irish man and Mr.

Coffee. The, the, the grain whiskeys were not to the liking of the Irish in general and very much shunned and everything originated from the. Was Bellissimo. So the, the pot and mold combination became known as a champagne blend of Irish whiskey. And that's what spurred me. Wow. Taking part in more to pure ingredients marrying them together.

And you are now going to taste the, the end result of it was, I remember the time I said, surely when we were doing this, that arch whiskey, they have, there are other brands, other plans, [00:22:00] other out there doing this, but no this was a first for our whiskey in living memory and I've been around more than 50 years.

So, yeah, so this was a style that had sort of died out and we got a great, we got the opportunity to bring it back and I just love this.

Kerry: I do. That's what I w one of the things I do love about, about copper pot whiskey, is it. Okay. So Irish whiskeys and space side scotches are my favorite whiskeys. And then second to that, if you go to America, I'm into rye. So what I like about the copper pot is it has a little bit of a bite, like dry. So I feel like the copper pots, Irish whiskeys always are like the combination between kind of a single malt scotch and the heat of the rye, which makes it so that's why I like it so much.

Yeah. Okay.

Bernard Walsh: All right. I love I love that spicy, that right. That rhino that you're picking out, I really, and it's it's upfront. [00:23:00] Yep. Then give it 10 seconds and then you've got this lovely malt palace, just beautiful floor. And there's there is no burn. I've got that lovely spice up front, but no burn, well balanced.

Really, really nice.

Kerry: So was this, this first expression here that the triple distilled copper pot, was that the first expression that you guys made for writers'

Bernard Walsh: tears? It was a, it was the first expression we made for riders, tears. And we, I suppose I learnt a lot in the process because, being, being our first, so, money, w we had money casks tucked away experiments and things like that.

And not all went to plan because there was nobody to tell us. It was, nobody had done this before. W there was no whiskey association which there is now, well, this was all new ground. So, we, we, we learned very quickly and we, we had to adapt and change whatever, and this brought me [00:24:00] to our next.

Project, which was double Oak. So writers too are still below. Kind of think we are going to taste that I'm going to, I'm going to brag now. Cause I got a full bottle.

Kerry: Well, I had a full bottle. I don't know what happened to it. You've

Bernard Walsh: got leakage problem there. I think the next house I'm going to be really curious.


Kerry: been leaking right into my stomach. I don't know. What's I don't know how that happened. So

Bernard Walsh: this is a rubbish two-ish double Oak. So Roger students, double Oak was born out of one of our experiments staff. Just really, I was just so thrilled about, and I have a friend in France, a family, or in the cognac business.

The Gower family. And I just love what to do. It's a small artisan cognac house DOH, XO DEU, DOH, XO cognac is there they're big brand, but they're small. And but it's a one it's a wonderful cognac. I love, [00:25:00] I love everything about it. And I, I approached them said, listen, could you, cause they don't typically like to in cognac generally let's let's cask south, especially when it's associated with a conic house, you get generic bottles, et cetera.

But the, they were the lighter to do this collab. It was a collaboration. And so. The kiosks came to Ireland. There was two casks. That's all. Wow. We, we writers' tears rested in there for about 18 months as a finish and we've, we tasted all the way along and, it's very unusual for me to leave something in that long for a, for a class.

It overpowers you don't want to lose the character of the originating whiskey or what? I definitely don't because I, we love writers' tears and its personality. So here we just, it was wonderful. The cognac cask. A combination. And I'm gonna say writers' [00:26:00] tears that we tasted copper pot earlier on is all matured in bourbon barrel.

So again that would be a nice connection for you back to you carry in your particular rye. But here we have Kanya casks, kind of concerts, they're there's Oak casks lightly toasted, not charred. So it's a whole, whole different aspect and bringing a whole new flavor profile to the whiskey.

So that project went so well. We, we said, listen, can we make this a permanent addition? And registers expression. So that's runners tours, double Oak. And

Kerry: so the, so the cognac folks said, okay, fine. And now you're getting more than two barrels. I hope

Bernard Walsh: we are. We are listen, w it's every year it's getting bigger and we're laying down more casks and that's the.

Perennial channel challenge for the, the w the whiskey makers is to, how much to, to lay down and, well, you'll have, say me with my, if I put my sales hat on saying, listen, we're going to sell tons of this. And the the [00:27:00] poor guy down in the warehouse. Yeah. So we have to, there's a balancing act there.

Right. But rather serious double Oak has been a real eye-opener for me to see how we can take rusted copper pot, which is an expression I absolutely love and now introduce to Kanya cask and totally changes. And I don't know, Carrie, if you've had a chance to have that. Yeah.

Kerry: I'm, I'm having some of that right now.

It's delicious. I can, I can definitely taste. The copper pot in it, but the, the, the double Oak does definitely give it a new, more,

Bernard Walsh: That it's a, it's a big creamy, creamy note you get in an, in a cognac. I can, I can feel that in Pottsville as well. We talk about a creamy note. They really work well together also that that gingery or spicy note that you get from Kanye, especially on the, those chart casks, are they likely toasted casks?

Yeah, that's just a lovely, there's a [00:28:00] lovely balance there.

Kerry: Yeah, for sure. Now is the copper pot expression, the base for all of your whiskeys or just some of the whiskey

Bernard Walsh: from a lot of them? Not all of them. So, that's that's, that's our go-to. And for the whiskys we're talking about today, It's based on our registers corporate pot, which is that pot malt.

And it's what we've been known for. We were the first to do it and proudly, proudly retaining that title if you like. Yeah, that's awesome. So good. I gotta add, let me see that you may not see it up there, but it's 46, 40 6% or so it's not 92 proof.

Kerry: Yeah. So it's a little hotter than the copper pot, the copper pot,

Bernard Walsh: and a little bit more so on roasted copper pot.

Yeah. Yeah,

Kerry: I was, it was also noticing the label. Let me get this up here. The label up here [00:29:00] is this, is this your

Bernard Walsh: that's my signature Carrie. That's fantastic. Yep. Yep. So, yeah, there's listen, does that? There's some nice little detail on the, on the neck of the water, we've got some of the technical detail to time system, brain type use the bowels use on the main label in lying DBaaS, we have an extract from James Joyce's portrait of an artist as a young man.

Oh, that's great. So yeah, it was lovely to be able to get out and weave some lovely. I love this little WT cutout on the label. Yeah,

Kerry: typewriter. I like it. I actually. My first experience with this whiskey? Well, actually this whiskey was about two years ago and I still have the bottle because there was a point where I was making lamps out of bottle.

I was trying to start a little side business, but then I had too many bottles and too many lamp pieces. But anyway, I still have a [00:30:00] bottle. A friend of mine is making a, a bar in her backyard and she's going to call it Storybrook and it's a big, huge shed. And the idea is to put, it's basically going to look like a library.

And so I said, oh, well, we have to get, we have to make a lamp for your bar made out of the writer's tear bottle. And it is not the same label. It is, it is a little bit different. It doesn't have the little WT. So when I went out this year to get more, I was like, oh, well, they've changed up the label.

It looks really nice. It's very snazzy. I like it.

Bernard Walsh: Yeah, I think, yeah, we so I suppose if we go back to the founding of writers' tears and, and that in the 18 hundreds and that Victorian timeline. We wanted to upgrade the bottle to be more Victorian in look and feel. And so that's what we have with the Thai font and going back to cork because I think your original was Carrie.

[00:31:00] Also, I love this. We have a last embellishment here, which is a tear. Yeah. I love it. Yeah. So.

Kerry: I, I kind of want to remake the lamp now with the new bottle, but having the old bottle is also vintage. So that's

Bernard Walsh: cool. It's vintage collectors item. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Well, I'll definitely buy a bottle of you.

You make it into a lamp. Fantastic.

Kerry: I'll send you, which one do you want? I've got copper pot. I've got a double Oak. I have the cast drank and out of my own collection,

which I finished first. So the next one we have is the cast strength. And then I had my own collection the Marsala. I went to a tasting not too long ago and I fell in love with this and I was able to find it. So, I grabbed a bottle while I could, but let's talk about the cast, right?

Bernard Walsh: Yeah. Okay.

Now it's interesting. You have the cost structure.[00:32:00]

Okay. It comes in a. Yes.

Kerry: Gorgeous gorgeous box. Yes. With the whole yep. But woods lady, this, this will be going on my shelf in my, I have

Bernard Walsh: actually a nice bit of furniture for the the bookshop and the library.

Kerry: Yes. Yes. I have in my kitchen, the entire top of all of the cabinets is filled with drunken bottles and it's lit up and pee and it keeps getting bigger and people go, have you drank all of those?

I've tasted something out of every bottle, some bottles I got from going to tastings and I took the empties home, but a good portion of them. I drank most of it. I'm not gonna lie. All right. So yes, the cast strength,

Bernard Walsh: And that's the 20, 20 vintage that's in the U S at the moment, which there are [00:33:00] only 1,500 bottles made it to the U S so very to get one bottle.

Yeah. Yep. And let me get my glass.

Kerry: And when I have bottle number 0 3, 8, 4 of 1500, it says strength, 54.5%. Oh, that's awesome. Now, do you really know? Great. You should have taken that oh seven bottle. You should take all of them and have a collection. So chapter four mean

Bernard Walsh: each express, each expression we give different chapter numbers too.

Okay, awesome. So, now this is, both of us have been drinking whiskey for, for awhile decades and enjoying whiskey. And, I, I, again, when I went to Scotland, I, I was just amazed at the breadth and depth of, of their offering. And one thing that re really [00:34:00] enjoyed was tasting constant or high strain whiskey, as almost like the distiller wants you to taste it before you may be diluted down.

And yeah, I really liked that concept idea. I love the taste. And I was just amazed at, in Ireland, there was none, zero zero costs, rent, whiskeys, unaltered. Yeah, commercial offerings anyway, in my lifetime. And again, all I am, so it's barely

Kerry: 50. That's what you said. Barely

Bernard Walsh: Fisher, barely 50, there's a five minutes.

There's something else in there. But but in my lifetime, no constant or high stern Irish whiskeys available for, so this is

Kerry: part of, did they even have them offered as like distillery tastings or anything?

Bernard Walsh: That's crazy, but why would you, when you know, to only a small club back in 1959 and before that a very small club there was no real competition, too tough to diversify beyond that.

So you, I can tell you commercially, I make a lot more money selling a 40% ABV than at 50 [00:35:00] or above that. So, it's commercial units, it was a wise thing, but in fairness to the, the whiskey companies that went before us in the 1980s and 1990s, Save Irish whiskey from going out of business.

They they've done a wonderful job, keeping, keeping it together, keeping us in business and allowing myself and many, many more people to get involved in Irish whiskey. But this is an opportunity to diversify, to the taste profile of Irish whiskey. Let's introduce some high-strung Castro whiskey.

So here you go. This is the first for our whiskey. And every year we'll take some exceptional casks and we do, we do a port for us and the rest of the reservoir Europe. So on average we'll have three to 4,000 with Mo most of them ending up in Europe, but of that 1500 will end up in the, in the U S I just love this

Kerry: it's delicious.

And what I like about it is it has a big pop of flavor, but. [00:36:00] The finish does not burn. So even though it's hot going in, it's cool going down,

Bernard Walsh: you've taken the words right out of my mouth. This there's beautiful heat. I just love the warmth, no burn. And then give it 10 seconds. 20 seconds does that. I've got just this beautiful creamy palette.

There's waves of different flavors here.

Kerry: Yeah. This is definitely a sipper that you'd want to. In fact, I was sipping on this last night because. It kind of forces you to drink slow because you, if you don't drink it slow, then you miss all the after finish flavors. I feel like I'm going to call it. I'm going to call it that the after finished flavors.

Bernard Walsh: Yeah. We're finished. Yeah. I like that. These are the after finished flavors. Now I'm just going to try a drop of water because I saw some interesting too. Maybe that was to put another dropping in there. Here we go. It's always interesting, just to add a drop [00:37:00] no more.

Kerry: Yeah, I did. Last night I did well, I did three of these, so I did a neat, I did a drop of water and then I I've just got this apparatus that makes clear see-through ice.

So I put that in there. You couldn't even see the ice cube in here, but it was a small one. So, and because it was the shape that it was in, it, it Melted slowly. So for the first, five minutes, it was opening up all the flavors and yet cooling down. It was fantastic. It was, it was a great experience last night.

Let me

Bernard Walsh: just, well, I, yeah, I'm really enjoying this. I've just put two drops of water in. It really has. I love it. I love it. Yeah,

Kerry: I do. I do

Bernard Walsh: love experimenting. Carrie is a privilege that we have and this is, this is the reward we get, and if you look in my office, I don't advise you to put those bottles everywhere and they're stocked and there's little tinctures and all sorts.

[00:38:00] But getting to taste and try things and The say, we're always right, but we have a particular taste profile that we like, and then we follow up

Kerry: and I love, and I don't know if that's because I'm a virus descent or if, just because you've nailed it on the head for the whole world, but I absolutely love every expression I've ever tasted from you guys.

I did a tasting, I dunno, like a month ago and I think we had like five or six different expressions and I couldn't afford to buy all of them, but my favorite of that was the Marsala cask. So I did go out and buy a bottle. So I would love to to talk about that one here in a second, but before we do, can you tell me how many expressions total you guys make, whether they make it to the U S or

Bernard Walsh: not?

Well, each year I will have. Somewhere between 14 and 16 expressions on offering. Wow. But our core, so the core for writers' tears will be a writers' tears, copper pot. You've just tasted writer, [00:39:00] Sears. There's double Oak cask. And there's one other course. So we, for the core and the other one is writers choose redhead.

Ah catch-up yeah.

Kerry: Redhead. I don't think I've had the redhead, but that makes sense. Being Irish, a red

Bernard Walsh: head. Yeah. I'm I'm sorry. I'm just surprised Carrie. You have not had the red

Kerry: and is that offered in the U S cause if it is, I'm going to have to go find it. It

Bernard Walsh: is extremely limited. You will find that.

I'm sure our, we will make sure we help you find it. The riders twos. And while it's core, it only, we, we only have one patch, so we get to the us every year. So that's, unfortunately it's limited in that sense right now on top of that. And we do a lot of experimentation, a lot of and the great thing about Irish whiskey is, you don't have to just use Oak, you can use other woods but even within Oak, prior to 1999, there was very little wood experimentation.

So we, we, we tried a hell of a [00:40:00] lot and the ones that work, you get the taste. So just to give you an idea, like, last year seaweed, IPA cask finish, right. So if you think about it was it salty. It was is that there was a little, a little. So, when you you tasted maybe a like salted caramel.

Kerry: Yeah. I was going to say maybe that would be good with one of those, a salted caramel chocolate. Yeah.

Bernard Walsh: It was a little of that coming through, but it was a C, so it was a beer, an IPA beer. And in the mash for the beer was seaweed and the seaweed, it was harvested down here and carry in about under Dingle, peninsula.

Kerry: Yeah. That's the best count I've never been there, but it's the best county cause it's spelled correctly.

Bernard Walsh: It's the only county for you. But the, the seaweed was harvested locally and county carry under the Dingle peninsula. And that was used in the mash bill for the pier the pier matured in the in our barrels in Oak casks.

And then we. And enjoy the beer. We took the casks [00:41:00] and we experimented with our whiskeys and the cast and it was stunning. It was and I think it would be is, is difficult to do on a, on a major, on a, on a major scale. We find our, if, if you really want that stunning note you, there's a, there's a lot of work.

We did, we did work with a coffee stout. So a stout beer coffee stout has called, and that was absolutely gorgeous, but God is

Kerry: the coffee still for the coffee stout?

Bernard Walsh: No, no, no, no, no. So again, it was, it, it was a cast. So in, in, in the, in the mash bill for the stout there was a cold brew coffee use and Nash.

It was, it was, it was phenomenal. So we do all of these.

Kerry: Is that a, is that available anywhere currently, whether it's here or there or at an airport specialty

Bernard Walsh: shop, it's really with collectors of you yet. It, now that will start on the Irishman brand. So the Irish coffee stout, if you Google that, you'll find it with some collectors.

But it was, it was only a single task. So, but you know, I, I know [00:42:00] I've got people calling me and asking for it, but they do find at auction. Oh,

Kerry: wow. I asked because I have a twin sister and she is to coffee as I am to whiskey. And she just bought a a boutique coffee shop or coffee shop coffee company at the end of last year.

And she roasts her own beans and she, and she has it's direct from the farmer. So I keep trying to win her over with whiskey, but if it doesn't have coffee involved, she won't even taste it.

Bernard Walsh: Here's your in, right. Listen to. So there's an amazing coffee house in Dingle, under Dingo peninsula in the little village of tingle, D I N G L E.

And the co the, the coffee house is called bean P a N P in to Dingle. Google it, they make amazing. The restaurant coffees are amazing and they are, that's where the idea originated from. Yeah, that's awesome. So, other other casks that we've experimented that have have sort of moved from experimental into mainstream as it made available [00:43:00] to here Europe and in the U S would be the Marcel roasters Marsala cast that we'll talk about the second.

Cause you have one on your CA in your stash there. And another one, which I really love

bingo, this one, you should be able to get some of this. So this is the Japanese


Kerry: That is delicious.

Bernard Walsh: You as a rye, lover will love this because it's

Kerry: yeah, I did. I did try that in the tasting. It was fantastic. I was debating actually. I think the reason I ended up buying the Marsala. That one was because they didn't have that one in stock.

So I got the Marsala, but both of them were my favorite two from that, from that tasting.

Bernard Walsh: Okay. So yeah. So from the us, for writers' tears, I think, yeah, they're the two additional ones that made it, so that the Japanese and the Marsala. Okay. Now back to business the, this is [00:44:00] the Marsala you were talking

Kerry: about before we go to that.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the redhead? Cause I I'm intrigued.

Bernard Walsh: Okay. So you asked earlier on, a or expressions where the pot mold combination in the marriage. And I said, not all and red heads and a classic example. This is a Shareed. So

in, in Oloroso Sherry butts for its entirety it's a wonderful, wonderful drum. And I, I am envious of the Scots and what they've done with the single malt category and they've turned the conflict down and we, the Irish have now got to take that up and show them that well, we used to make amazing single malt and malt whiskeys and what you had, we're coming from.

Kerry: There you go well, cause you guys started at all and then they, they, went on and we had stupid prohibition, which did not help your, your whiskey situation. So

Bernard Walsh: yeah, Scott's already only wants to come out the [00:45:00] right side of the prohibition.

Kerry: Right. All right. Let's get some more solid here.

And I, my father, every time we went out to dinner, growing up, he everywhere we went, he, and this is what I think it was so funny. He, he grew up in a household where they made their steaks well done. And I don't know if that's because my grandmother was afraid that they were going to get sick or what, but the whole rest of the family would order their steaks medium rare.

And my dad would get well done. So anytime there was chicken on the, on the menu, he would take a chicken I'm like, who wants chicken over a steak. And then anytime there was chicken Marsala. Which that I get because the chicken Marsala was always great, but there was this one restaurant we would always go to and he would always get the chicken Marsala.

So as soon as I saw this the Marsala cask, I said, oh, well, I'm going to have to have that with the chicken Marsala and cheers to my

Bernard Walsh: father. So here's the dad. [00:46:00]

Kerry: Oh, it is so

Bernard Walsh: lovely. I do. This is, I love the balance on this. Yes. Now,

Kerry: so the Marseilles, but it's but it's Hardy at the same

Bernard Walsh: time. Yeah, that's it.

The Marsala. Okay. The cast came from the Florida winery and Sicily It's just a, it's a wonderful winery. If you're ever done a Sicily, get in and have a look they they've got an open to visitors and do do tasting there. It's just great. So again, I was fortunate just like I wasn't in cognac and, and working with good people to get hold of some amazing casks.

So we managed to get some casks out of the Flory winery and we've used them to really layer on a whole new Mediterranean field to writers' tears. It's it's it's, it's bringing in a whole new direction for me.

Kerry: It's fantastic. So how many [00:47:00] different experiments do you have planned for this next year?

Bernard Walsh: I, I tried to bring to the us every year, if I, as a minimum to. New expressions outriders tears and two for the Irishman as well. So that's the aim doesn't always work out, but that's what I'm trying.

Kerry: Okay. And, and the facility that you, the distillery, do you have, are both of them made out of the same place or do you have two different locations?

Bernard Walsh: No, I'll so when we started out in, back in 1999, we, I suppose we were really lucky to get, to spend time with our Steelers and Dante a wonderful distillery. And I learnt a lot there. We ended up sourcing just amazing just to let out of that, the celery and that form. That's been the bedrock of writer's tutors since day one.

And it is just beautiful distillate. And now it's [00:48:00] about how I can layer on just different. Taste profiles. You bring it to a new level. How I can put my DNA, my stamp on it and broaden out that tastes port for, for our whiskey we spoke about. So that's been my project ever since.

Kerry: And my last, well, not my last question, but one of my last questions.

Now I know you started in 1999, the company with your wife and what role has she played today? Is she still a key factor in everything

Bernard Walsh: she is? Absolutely. Rosemarie is involved in the business for the last 22 years. Well, a little bit camera shy. So I get pushed out here to speak to you. But yeah, Rosemary is very much involved in the branding side of the business has also I suppose, feel for the taste, the Polish.

So when it comes to new expressions, she's the first port of call to discuss an [00:49:00] ask and, and yeah, she, she, she's always there, always there guiding us in. Did she

Kerry: have anything to do with the design of the labels?

Bernard Walsh: Ah yes, because no li no label or design was, was sort of passed on as I got Rosemarie sort of, not we actually worked with a company in London called stranger and stranger.

They are, you can look them up a fantastic firm. They've got an operation in New York and San Francisco, I believe now. So just, just great people, great designers, everything. When we started out with nighttime. Rosemary and myself, and I would say Rosemarie more than me designed everything, we did it.

And then we went to a local house, a local design house, a graphic house, and then they would tweak it and get it up, get it into the right shape and the way we go. So we were happy in our ignorance. This is great, it was, it was fine. But I think we, we, we learned that, in order to compete at the top table, we had to offer gain.

And that was then, okay, well, we can't [00:50:00] be great at everything. So let's work with really good design firm. And we, for, for the writers' tears labor, we worked with a stranger stranger, and they've done a wonderful job. But yeah, everything down to the color. So you'll see, even on Marcel that surely that tells you that a lady picked that color,

Kerry: it looks different than yours.

Bernard Walsh: Oh yeah. Well, when you get onto, when you get onto the, the, the new look.

Kerry: Yeah. Oh, my bottle is 165 of 888. Now I should save this for my sister. Cause her favorite number is eight. So any number of aides together that, that, so that maybe she'll like this,

Bernard Walsh: we've got a whole team of ladies here more than guys as well.

So, from day, other than Rosemary and myself and the business, our first employee was Geraldine. We've you know, Jordan's been right there with us and she's at the production end of the business. We have Claire, Claire, minarck, who's our, our marketing manager. Claire is a ways it's just a great, great, very creative [00:51:00] person.

And she's. Dragged me along into a whole new direction. And Claire's a few years younger than me, so she's a lot more energy and, and yeah. Yeah, it's been brilliant, just getting very creative people into our business. That's awesome.

Kerry: And what what do you, what are your current goals for the future with this brand and with the Irishmen and, and are you thinking about making a third brand?

Bernard Walsh: Okay. You can ask the question and the last one first then, and I'm not thinking about being a third brand, I've got two, I've got two amazing brands that will allow me to, so this is the platform and across so much work I want to do. And these brands will allow me to. The Irish man is so we've given runners tutors.

After 10 years, we gave it a make-over. Now, if I was working with one of the big drinks firms, I'd be doing probably just every four or five years or whatever else, but, eh, this is a big job. And so we gave riders tears last year I [00:52:00] make over and we're all delighted with it. The Irish man is getting his make-over this year for next year.

So it's gone to. We want to keep raising our standards in everything from the liquid projects, true to the, either the image that we present to you, whether it's a bottle or a box or whatever, everything is color. So we are always pushing the boundaries and just to do better all the time. And the experimentation on the casks is what drives me because, we're always trying to, let's find this holy grail.

Kerry: I applaud you serve for your, for your fantastic whiskeys. And I hope you continue to make more.

Bernard Walsh: Well, we really appreciate it. Carry a you're giving giving a platform to myself and, and the Irish community to talk about a new, new tastes in Irish whiskey, which we want our friends in the U S to really savor and enjoy and, challenge yourself as a, as a whiskey enthusiast or a [00:53:00] consumer in the U S challenges of say, well, I know I always thought.

Johnny X, R Johnny Y but you know, look at the Irish portfolio and just try to the new taste coming out of Harlem and particularly Irishman writers' tears, just a beautiful,

Kerry: they are the beautiful, thank you so much. Don't touch that device. We'll be right back with whiskey whereabouts. Well, we are back with Bernard Walsh.

Last time we spoke, it was a couple of months back and we had a few things going on. You had a new expression coming out to the states in the late fall, early winter, and that time is now. So wanted to know if you could tell us a little bit more about that expression.

Bernard Walsh: Yeah, great news. We have launched rudders tears in a skill and ice wine cask finish.

So I'm not sure if you're familiar with Icewine, but in Canada it's quite big. And Well from the first time where the Canada was introduced to Icewine I absolutely loved it. I have a sweet tooth and every time I returned home, I'd always been back some ice [00:54:00] wine. I wanted to do something I suppose, deepen the connections that we have with north America.

And I was really fortunate in that the guys in Inniskillin, which will be the leading and was the first premier ice wine winery in Canada. I was really fortunate that they basically let me access their, their bar room. We sampled, we selected some amazing casks and we brought them back to Ireland where we finished writers two years for 12 months in the ice wine cask and the resultant liquid, the result of whiskey is just stunning and that has now been released.

So it has arrived in the U S despite all the challenges with COVID and getting things shipped in it. Is there there's no, it's a limit. It's a limited release. There's only so many was 12 casts that we brought across to Ireland out of which on the, I think it was five of them made their way to the U S so, [00:55:00] yeah, the.

I'm really excited about it. It's a fun, just a phenomenal finish. So

Kerry: for those who don't know what ice wine is, is it a white line? Is it a red line? Is it a, what is it? It

Bernard Walsh: can be both. So in a skill and work with both red and white the Vidal grape is the one that's predominantly used at Inniskillin.

It's got a thicker skin. Harder is able to take that the harsh winters, which they have a up Niagara on the lake. And so that's what we have selected is a Goldie Dow, which was just. Yeah, absolutely stunning ice is very, I have a sweet tooth and it just it's worked wonderfully well with writers' tears, which had that hint of sweetness.

They, the, the vanilla from the bourbon barrel already in there. And now you're layering on if you like this, and it's a natural sweetness that you get from the ice wine, as opposed to let's say the, the fortified wines we get here in Europe.

Kerry: [00:56:00] That's awesome. I will totally start looking for that in stores.

Now, one of the things I wanted to ask you about. We did not discuss last time we chatted. I didn't even seem like it was on the horizon. Was this recent acquisition with Amber beverages? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Bernard Walsh: Yeah, I mean, this came left field. It was not a young, wasn't something that we were out there looking and marketed this company, a number of beverage, which you may know about quite a large European drinks forum.

And we know that quite well here, eh, in Ireland because of the routes to market that they own through Europe. So, we worked with mountain spirits in Austria, for example, and Amber's own mountain spirits. So we were very familiar with them quite a big player here. But basically they fell in love with our brands, writer's tears and the Irishman, and came knocking.

We sort of, sort of pushed them away. We're not interested, but they came, they came back with an offer that we just couldn't refuse. And the beauty for me is that they've [00:57:00] asked me to run the whiskey business, which rudders and the Irishman would be absolutely center a center stage. So we're, we're up, we're up and running we're up and running.

And I'm, I'm here in Ireland. They've got some very exciting plans in the whiskey space. So again, I would love to speak to you this time next year, and to see, how far down the road we've come, but there's a lot of exciting things to happen. Yeah.

Kerry: Fantastic. Well, that's very exciting news and we are so excited to have you here on our premier episode of barrel room Chronicles.

And thanks again for joining us,

Bernard Walsh: Kari, as always. It's a pleasure. I got to toast to you and your, your, your your listeners, a happy Christmas to.

Kerry: For show notes on today's episode, please visit If you like what you heard, please rate and subscribe to the podcast. If you really liked it, and you want to show your support, buy us a whiskey through our coffee site. If you work in the whiskey industry or run [00:58:00] a whiskey bar or club, and you'd like to be featured on barrel room Chronicles, register to be a guest through our website.

Thanks for joining me until next time. Solange barrel room Chronicles is a production of first real entertainment and it's distributed by anchor FM and is available on Spotify, apple, Google I heart radio, Amazon, and wherever fine podcasts can be heard.

Bernard WalshProfile Photo

Bernard Walsh

Founder of Walsh Whiskey

First created by Bernard Walsh in 2009, Writers’ Tears comprises a range of six expressions of super-premium, triple-distilled Irish whiskeys. The range includes three core (Copper Pot, Double Oak & Red Head) and three limited-edition expressions. Two of the limited-edition expressions in the range are under the Writers’ Tears Copper Pot line and feature rare cask finishes - Marsala and Mizunara. The third limited-edition expression is a Cask Strength vintage, produced annually.
About Walsh Whiskey:
Established in 1999 by husband and wife, Bernard and Rosemary Walsh, Walsh Whiskey is a leading producer of premium and super-premium, triple-distilled, craft, Irish whiskeys – Writers’ Tears and The Irishman. Demand for these critically acclaimed whiskeys currently exceeds available supply in the 50 countries they are distributed to worldwide.
Led by founder Bernard Walsh, and with a strong board of industry veterans, the company has built a portfolio of international award-winning drinks brands. These include 6 core expressions in a range of 14 premium Irish whiskeys under the Writerṣ’ Tears and The Irishman brands, as well as the Hot Irishman Irish coffee and The Irishman - Irish Cream liqueur.