By @SimonCocking review of Whiskey Burn, the distilleries of Ireland by Vespa by Ben Birdsall. Available from Amazon here.

In Whiskey Burn, The Distilleries of Ireland by Vespa, Ben sets out again on another 1,600-km trip from Dublin to Dublin on his Vespa. With gems of wit and anecdote, plus a (now) sound knowledge of the processes and practices, Ben sheds light on each of the old and the new, the upcoming and the yet to come Irish whiskey distilleries, with yet more samples to taste and savour on the campsite.

We reviewed Ben’s trip around Scotland’s distilleries so we were delighted when we heard that he was coming to visit the distilleries of Ireland too. Whiskey in general is booming, Scottish whiskey in particular is rocketing and many, many Irish entrepreneurs and companies have recognised the opportunity that exists out there. In this context Birdsall chose an opportune time to visit Ireland. That said, his method of transport, his trusty Vespa was very much part of the story too. As a coder would say, the Vespa is a feature not a bug, however with an average travelling speed, at best, of 25 kms per hour, was definitely a defining feature of his travels too. Fortunately perhaps Ireland is not that large, and so he was able to make a logical and interesting circumnavigation of Ireland.

He travels around all four provinces chasing down established whiskey distilleries and extremely bleeding edge ones too. Some which are only bottling their first products now, and even some, like the Cape Clear project, which had just passed planning permission and were beginning to build their dreams. Birdsall writes well and able to go deep into whiskey tech conversations and then also  balance this with more human observation’s about the people he encounters too. For the non-whiskey equipment specialists (like us) this keeps the book readable an engaging. His photos and quickly dashed off oil paintings are also lovely to view and break up the text well too, though he also manages to capture some interesting images via his photography too.

The book is more user friendly than the Scottish edition too, easier to hold, open and read, so it is definitely a good present for the whiskey drinker drinker in your life. We enjoyed reading it, and it does make you want to try those flavours and brands that you have not come across yourself yet.


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