By Rob Allanson

Welcome to Whisky Magazine

It is always good to be back in Ireland, to return to the cradle of so many things that we often take for granted: distilling, Christianity, EU funding and that elusive craic.

Despite the recent economic downturn that has hit the country there seems to be a glimmer of hope, certainly in the distilling and hospitality industries. With the recent announcement from Irish Distillers that it is to revitalise that most Irish of whiskey styles, single pot still, by releasing two new expressions a year, and the purchase of Tullamore Dew by William Grant & Sons, it is easy to speculate that this once great whiskey nation is due to rise again.

Personally I do hope it happens. Having travelled from the northern outpost of Bushmills to the big three in the south there is a passion for the liquid, the distilling methods and the heritage it was all born out of. It is just a shame it has taken the public and the drinker so long to realise the gems that can be found here.

The push to bring Irish whiskey back from being a quiet interesting aside to Scotch, even with a unique style, is being lead by various quarters. The distillers themselves have found new passion and vigour. Cooley, with its visionary distiller/innovation manager, is beginning to play with mashbills, finishes and distillation times; IDL is bringing pot still back to life; we can expect big things from Grants with Tullamore (the company clearly buys with the view to expand); and finally Bushmills is carrying on its cross border collaborations that the politicians can only dream of.

The Irish Whiskey Society is gathering pace with its tastings and promotion of the spirit and heritage, as has Heidi Donelon with the Irish Whiskey Trail.

The real push now needs to take off in the pubs and bars. The seeds are already set with the expertise and drive of the bartenders and owners of places like L. Mulligan Grocer, the Palace and the Brooks Hotel. The revolution will not be televised, it will be distilled, matured and poured into your glass.

Speaking of pubs, one thing about being back in Dublin is just how wonderful it is to have a decent pub culture. Perhaps it's because where I live the pubs are mass market affairs with no vision. But a place like Mulligans, with its vehement support of local produce, craft brewing and whiskey is like a revelation. This what the the essence of a pub should be; the hub and supporter of the community it serves.

When I travel for the magazine it is great to find a place where you can get a decent pint and magnificent home cooked food. These places become home from home, and there are a few of them across the world. These are the boltholes where you know, even though you may only be there a few times a year, you are guaranteed a warm welcome. The only problem is you have such excellent experiences there, mainly due to the people and the atmosphere, these havens can be hard to leave and are certainly unforgettable. If you are in town drop in and say hello to the guys, it will be worth it and make sure you try the ice cream.

My thanks also go to BMW Motorrad for providing a most excellent machine, in the shape of an R1200R, for the Ireland trip.

Investment drams

Chris Hoban

Master of Malt

What whisky have you bought to keep?
The 50cl Linkwood 26 Years Old Rum cask finish. I think Linkwood is an absolutely cracking and underrated spirit.

What whisky will you sell or open soon?
I’ll open The Glenlivet 21 Years Old released for the re-opening of the distillery when I met Prince Charles.