Our abroad adventure opened our eyes to different drinking cultures in five incredible countries.
Just like Americans, Europeans love to drink. The drinking culture abroad varies vastly from place to place. During our trip, we experienced how the locals drink and we returned to the U.S. with a fresh perspective and marketing insights to share from our European adventure.
FIRST STOP: IRELAND
As far as drinking destinations go, Ireland is always on our short list. Plus, Ireland loves telling stories to sell their booze, just like us!
Everyone knows Ireland for its whiskey and Guinness. Both of which we love! But Irish Poitín is making a comeback. What the hell is Poitín? We asked ourselves this very question before our tour of Micil Distillery. This microdistillery in Galway is known for its Poitín, and the owner, Pádraic, gave us a little history lesson on this spirit.
Micil’s recipe for Poitín has been in the family for six generations. Padraic’s great great great grandfather started distilling back in 1848 for family and friends and people traveled near and far to try it.
Sounds like your average story of a family business being handed down through the generations, right? Well, here’s where the story gets really interesting.
Poitín had been illegal for centuries. The British banned it in 1661, and it didn’t become legal again until 1997. Poitín’s illegal status made it even more popular. Distilling continued in secret and it remained the spirit of choice for many in Ireland. In fact, many locals consider Poitín the precursor to modern-day whiskey.
Fast forward to today. Micil Distillery is Galway’s first legal distillery in over 100 years. Each bottle of Irish Poitín is handcrafted according to the original Micil family recipe from 170 years ago.
After tasting it, we give Poitín our personal stamp of approval. Our rec? Sip it slowly over ice or add a splash of Fever-Tree ginger beer. And yes, we recommend this brand specifically for the most authentic experience. Either way, it’s a little spicy and dangerously smooth.
We’re also in love with Micil’s Irish Gin, but that’s a whole other story. We actually brought home a few bottles for our bar carts. Also, ordering a Gin and Tonic is 100% a thing in Galway and they are served in Copa de Balon glasses, which are similar in shape to traditional red wine glasses and best for enhancing the gin’s flavor.
As for Galway’s craft beer scene, it’s only growing. We received multiple recs to check out The Salthouse Bar. Thanks, friends! This self-described beer connoisseur’s heaven had 20+ craft beers on draft, including a handful of brews made locally at Galway Bay Brewery.
Ireland is known for cider too. Everyone’s heard of Bulmer’s aka Magner’s, but the cider selection is expanding to include more options for cider lovers. As we ventured from pub to pub, we discovered Appleman’s and Orchard Thieves were regularly on draft too. These ciders are on the sweeter side of the spectrum, but there’s something about the bubbles here that make for easy drinking.
Don’t worry we had Guinness, too. Everyone knows Guinness tastes better in Ireland. It really does. But why? Pouring the perfect pint of Guinness is a science. Seriously though. The glass should be held at a 45° angle and left to settle for approximately 119.5 seconds. Bartenders in Ireland take pint pouring very seriously. Proximity is an obvious factor. Just like with any beverage, time and distance make a difference. Since Guinness is made in Dublin, it’s simply fresher in Ireland. Authentic pub vibes don’t hurt either.
We ended our trip with a tour of the Jameson Distillery, the birthplace of Irish whiskey. This guided tour explores the history of the Jameson brand. Following in the footsteps of the founding fathers gave us the feels. Again, another great story! The tasting portion of the tour included trying scotch vs. irish whiskey vs. American whiskey and appreciating the similarities and differences of each.
The highlight of our tour was when we drank straight from the cask. Drinking cask strength whiskey is no joke. Quite possibly the best way to experience Jameo in our opinion. If you love Irish whiskey, prepare to be blissed out.
OUR MARKETING TAKEAWAY
We love stories, but you already knew that. Our trip to Ireland perfectly illustrated the power of good storytelling. Yes, we enjoyed tasting Irish Poitín at Micil Distilling. But, we appreciated this spirit so much more once after hearing all about the generations of family history behind the brand, and even more after learning about the legal issues involved.
The Guinness and Jameson brands are built on storytelling too, and the craft beer scene is developing its story as we speak. The lesson here? Tell your story and do it well.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Yes, this entire blog is dedicated to Ireland. And yes, we’re biased. Probably because Culhanes hail from Limerick near the town of Glin and Amy studied abroad in Galway in college. More countries coming soon!