The rising popularity of Irish Whiskey has attracted celebrities. Celebrity Alcohol brands are nothing new. Ryan Reynolds has Gin, George Clooney has Tequila, Dan Akroyd with Vodka, and Sammy Hagar with both Rum and Tequila. There are dozens more spanning across the spirit spectrum particularly among the music industry. Celebs from music, sports, and Hollywood have launched or attached their names to burgeoning Irish Whiskey brands.
Do you know the celebrity Irish Whiskey brands? Or the Celebrities attached? Even more, does the endorsement matter to you or is it only about the liquid in the bottle? Here is a list of Celebrities and their brands.
US Open winner Graeme McDowell hails from Portrush which inspired his creation of Grey Coast Irish Whiskey. A collaboration with Boann Distillery, this non-age statement blend is matured in bourbon, virgin oak, and sherry casks before bottling at 40% abv.
Independent bottler brand Samuel Gelston's released a 40% abv Single Pot Still finished in Pinoit Noir wine casks. The bottling was a collaboration with the Neill cousins, Johnny from Gelston's and Sam from Jurassic Park fame. After 19 months in ex-bourbon casks, the spirit was matured in Central Otago Pinot Noir casks from Sam's New Zealand vineyard.
Multi Grammy award winning singer and songwriter Mariah Carey launched the Black Irish cream liqueur brand in 2021. The brand's name is derived from her mother's Irish heritage and father's black Venezuelan background. The brand is widely available in the US in the Irish Cream aisle of liquor stores.
Conor McGregor, certainly famous, also maybe infamous, launched his Irish Whiskey brand in 2018. The brand name refers to Dublin 12, the area where the UFC champion is from. Sourced from Bushmills, this 40% abv blend has become the 3rd best selling Irish Whiskey in the USA.
Famous Irish punk rock band The Pogues released their namesake Irish Whiskey to the US market in 2016. The brand is a collaboration with West Cork Distillers and Frank McHardy, famous distiller of Springbank and others. Shane MacGowan, lead singer and songwriter, has a well founded reputation for whiskey drinking so the creation of the brand was no surprise.
The guys from the long running tv show "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" collaborated with Cooley Distillery for the release of Four Walls Irish Whiskey. Their inaugural limited edition release in 2022 was a 15yr old Single Malt (chosen for the number of seasons of the hit tv show). Aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks, it was bottled at 58% cask strength abv. All proceeds from the brand go to support Pennsylvania bars and restaurants in an ode to the show's premise.
Liev Schreiber's acting credits include the Scream movie franchise and Ray Donovan television series. His latest venture was to launch the Slainte Irish Whiskey brand in 2022. This 40% abv blend is sourced from Great Northern Distillery and aged in both bourbon and sherry casks. The blend also has the distinction of being the IWSA November 2022 Whiskey of the Month. For every bottle sold, $1 is donated to charity.
For the majority of these brands, the celebrity factor is in the background. The Pogues Irish Whiskey is recognizable by name without direct celebrity marketing. Conor Macgregor has arguably been the most involved in promoting his brand. The others have invested time and/or funding to launch their band with less fanfare.
With upwards of 100 different Irish Whiskey brands on some liquor store shelves, many new in the past couple of years, it is difficult for the average consumer to know how to choose. How do you differentiate one 40% blend from another? In many cases the distillery is not mentioned for sourced brands. With limited shelf space, having unique labels, attractive bottles, or a celebrity endorsement can be enough to break the deadlock over at least initial selection. Given the popularity and sales of Aviation Gin (Ryan Reynolds), Casamigos Tequila (George Clooney), and Proper Twelve (MacGregor), there must be something to the celebrity factor.