Looking Back: John Quinn on Tullamore DEW

John Quinn, Global Brand Ambassador of Tullamore DEW visited Sydney in July 2014 and hosted a deconstruction blending session and tasting of the Irish Whiskey. We caught up with him after the seminar to chat about the new distillery and trends in Irish Whiskey. This article is part of the ‘Looking Back’ series.

John Quinn Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey – Photo © Cocktails & Bars

How does Tullamore DEW differ from other Irish whiskeys?
The key difference is that Tullamore DEW is a triple blend, with grain, malt and pot still whiskeys and an influence from sherry and bourbon casks.

What new trends in Irish Whiskey have impressed you of late?
What is impressive about Irish whiskey is that it is a new trend itself. In the last 10 years, it has been the fastest growing category. In the early 80s we were battling at doors and hotels talking about Irish whiskey, now people are drinking it and these who aren’t are seeing others drinking it.

What impresses me is that we are now much more prepared to experiment, like trying different cask finishes, and we’re introducing things like single malts which have disappeared in the past. Single pot still whiskeys are also coming back. These are all traditional Irish whiskeys that were known in the past.

What does the opening of the new distillery mean to Tullamore DEW?
We’re building a new distillery on the edge of the town of Tullamore. We’re doing it because the brand is significant and it’s the number 2 selling Irish whiskey in the world. We have been reliant on other distilleries to supply whiskeys to our blends, and we need to get the point where we can supply our own. We’re going to run the first spirit off the still in the middle of August and open in mid September.

We’ll be the only distillery in Ireland that will be producing both malt whiskey and pot still whiskey in the same distillery. Ultimately we’ll produce grain whiskey there. Currently we buy our malt whiskey from Bushmills and grain and pot still whiskey from Midleton. We’ll be able to have different type of whiskeys, eg tradition pot style whiskeys, rich style whiskeys, our own cask finishes, and produce a range of different malts in the sense of what Tullamore DEW should taste like.

No Age Statement whiskies have gained popularity in recent years. What is Tullamore DEW’s stance on NAS?
It’s a fact that we don’t have enough old whiskeys because we’ve been selling all we had. 10 years ago we had to give a forecast and we didn’t anticipate that much growth. It’s not a major problem, it means it restricts our growth in certain markets. Our key strategic markets will still get the whiskey they need.

There are more ways of identifying whiskey than just age. They can come in different casks finishes, richness of blend, different pot still and malt lends and we can do that as a whiskey industry because we’re better at it. It’s fair to say that we did before wasn’t right. We defined the whiskey by the age on the label, the older the better. I think it’s a valid way forward. We have a magnificent 12 YO blend, the 10 YO single malt and some restricted stock of our 14 YO which is available in travel retail. Having older whiskeys with age statements is a kind of dream but it will take some time before we get there.

What does the future hold for the brand in the next 3-5 years?
The possibilities are endless. We haven’t been able to contain the growth in terms of keeping to the levels we need, but that’s not a bad thing. There’s going to be more distilleries built in island but it’s a challenge to bring the customer in. They’re building the distillery then the brand. We built the brand, now we’re building the distillery. It’s a very exciting time. I’d love to be 21, for loads of reasons.

“John Quinn on Tullamore DEW Irish Whiskey” is part of the ‘Looking Back’ series which takes a historical lens to key industry personalities. The article is based on an interview originally published on our sister website Gourmantic.

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