A whiskey maker which revived Ireland’s almost-forgotten traditions has beaten some of the biggest names in the business to be named the world’s best.
The Cooley Distillery, opened only 21 years ago in Riverstown, Co Louth, was praised for bringing back the peat smoking technique giving its spirits a virtually unique flavour.
It is the first Irish drinks firm to win the prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition.
David Hynes, Cooley managing director, said: “This success has been built over 20 years by our focus on innovation and quality,” he said.
“This focus has led to new products, new finishes and the reintroduction of the concept of peated malt to Ireland.”
Cooley won world and European best at an awards ceremony in London with the winner picked for demonstrating the highest quality across a range of spirit brands.
The distillery opened in 1987 in an old industrial alcohol plant on the Cooley peninsula which had been turning potato into ethanol.
Owners revived the traditional turf smoked barley technique to give its whiskey the old-fashioned Irish flavours. They also brought in bourbon casks from Kentucky in the US and oak casks used to hold Madeira and Sherry to develop new styles.
The company is considered a relative novice in the distilling trade competing with producers who have been making whiskey for hundreds of years.
Frances Horder, IWSC competition director, said: “Cooley should be applauded for their work in re-establishing whiskey varieties that have lain forgotten for many years.
“Their diligence has certainly paid dividends.”