One of Dublin's most celebrated figures has her own Irish Whiskey. Molly Malone has been commemorated in song, by statue, and now whiskey brand. To celebrate the May 2023 US launch and IWSA visit to Dublin's fair city, we review the latest Irish Whiskey to come stateside.
Molly Malone may or may not have been an actual person. Historical records are murky and several variations of songs referencing a Molly Malone can be found. A well known version was first published in Boston in 1876. Another version was written in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1884. A third iteration was found in a book of songs printed in England in 1790. The different song versions all seem to share the story of a fish selling woman from the Dublin area. Confusing things further is that the song has different titles: "Sweet Molly Malone", "Cockles and Mussels", and "In Dublin's Fair City". While none of the recordings are from Ireland, the song has become the unofficial anthem of Dublin.
The lyrics for the song tell the story of an attractive female fishmonger and possible prostitute. The lyrics "Alive, Alive, Oh!" reference a popular shout from street fish sellers at that time to indicate the freshness of their product. Molly was at least a second generation fishmonger according to the lyrics who died from fever (probably cholera, given the era). Adding to the folklore, the song alludes to her haunting the streets of Dublin after her death.
To celebrate Dublin's millennium in 1988, the city commissioned a statue to honor Molly Malone. The statue played up the reputation as a working girl with its bronzed personification in a risque outfit revealing ample cleavage. Alternate justification for this depiction was offered as fairly representing women of that period who commonly breast fed their children in public. Regardless, those visiting the statue today will notice the breasts are discolored compared to the rest of the statue. This is due to the popular tradition of rubbing the statue's breasts for luck by the those wanting more than a "selfie".
The statue was unveiled on June 13th and officially declared Molly Malone Day in Dublin. This date was chosen by the Dublin's Millennium Commission after historical research determined that a Mary Malone had died on that day in 1699. Urban legend had popularized the theory that the song's character lived in the 17th century. The statue remains a popular tourist attraction.
Even visited by IWSA members on our May 2023 group trip where we toasted with the newly available whiskey. No disclosure on whether any member rubbed for luck (What happens in Dublin stays in Dublin).
The Molly Malone Irish Whiskey launched in the USA May 2023, initially in California. Shand Import LLC out of Monrovia, CA is the brand's US importer. Some American drinkers may already be familiar with it from travels to Ireland as the whiskey has been available in Duty Free at the airport since 2022. The brand was started in 2019 by owner/founder Richard Lombard-Chibnall.
Two events are credited with inspiring the idea for starting this new Irish Whiskey brand. The first was Ireland's 2016 victory over the All Blacks in rugby which was celebrated in the streets by tens of thousands singing Molly Malone's song. Richard wanted to capture this celebratory spirit. The second event was great craic experienced after an unexpected invite aboard a fishing boat where Richard enjoyed scallops and whiskey with old and new friends.
The Molly Malone Small Batch Irish Whiskey is a triple distilled, 40% abv sourced non age statement blend matured in 2nd fill ex-bourbon casks.
Nose: Enticing, gentle citrus notes precede charred notes of toasted oak.
Palate: Sweet and light on the palate with oak and smoky flavours. Develops to the trademark scintillating classic crispness of Irish whiskey.
Finish: Sweet gentle vanilla notes combine with delicate soft oakiness.
This is a great session Irish whiskey to be enjoyed with friends. The delicate nature of this whiskey may even inspire one to break out in song. Alive, Alive, Oh!