How Aer Rianta International hit the highest of whisk(e)y notes in Dublin

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.
Martin Moodie

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Come day, go day
Wish in my heart it were Sunday
Drinking buttermilk thru the week
Whiskey on a Sunday – Whiskey on a Sunday, The Dubliners (written by Glyn Hughes)

Well in truth buttermilk hadn’t been my chosen tipple during my recent stay in Dublin to watch the All Blacks play Ireland but I certainly encountered plenty of whiskey on a Sunday at Dublin Airport en route home to London.

I seriously doubt that there is any airport store on the planet (and I’m including specialist whiskey shops) with such an outstanding selection as that offered here by Aer Rianta International.

As you’d expect there’s a fine array of Irish whiskey, from malt to the mainstream, from cask-aged to craft distillers. But there’s so very much more, in style, presentation and geographic origin.

Rather than explain that thrilling diversity in words, I’ll let the pictures tell the story. And, hey, why not also in a bit of song? For as any student of rock or country music will tell you, whisk(e)y figures prominently in a surprising number of songs. Maybe that’s because of its ability to engender writers’ tears, which also happens to be the name of a great Irish whiskey (see below).

Whisk(e)y lies at the heart of some of the greatest lyrics in modern and traditional song. It’s especially popular in country music. There’s Brad Paisley’s deceptively named ‘Whiskey lullaby’:

We found him with his face down in the pillow
With a note that said, ‘I’ll love her till I die.’
And when we buried him beneath the willow
The angels sang a whiskey lullaby

And Elliott Smith’s similarly bleak ‘Miss Misery’:

I’ll fake it through the day
with some help from Johnnie Walker red
Send the poisoned rain down the drain
to put bad thoughts in my head

One cannot possibly omit Don McLean’s immortal ‘American Pie: Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye/And singin’, ‘this’ll be the day that I die

There’s the powerful Liars’ Bar by Beautiful South, which you just have to listen to:

I’m a travelling businessman
I just stopped in for one drink
You’ll find
that I’m not like the other men
Their noses are red
whilst mine is only pink
And they didn’t choose their drink
their drink chose them

Rum by the kettle drum
Whisky by the jar
At Liar’s Bar

And the perversely named ‘Chivalry’ by The Mekons:

I was out late the other night
Fear and whiskey kept me going
I swore somebody held me tight
But now there’s just no way of knowin’

Whiskey also looms large in a great blues song by Willie Dixon, ‘If the sea was whiskey’:

If the sea was whiskey
and I was a diving duck
I’d dive to the bottom
Don’t know when I’d come up

The Telegraph even dedicated a recent column to the subject, dubbed ‘The 30 best songs about whisky’. There are some gems in there but I’ve also found a few of my own to add an extra flavour note to some of the more esoteric drams on offer at Dublin Airport.

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Superb, innovative in-store display, almost an ABC of good product merchandising. And as it’s ‘almost’, I’ll opt for AC/DC instead: “My glass is getting shorter/On whiskey, ice and water”, from ‘Have a drink on me’. Cheers, don’t mind if I do.

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“There ain’t enough Bourbon in Kentucky for me to forget you [though there may be at Dublin Airport -Ed]; No there ain’t enough matches I can strike to set afire the memory of you” – Dierks Bentley, ‘Bourbon in Kentucky’

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“You’re as smooth as Tennessee whiskey; You’re as sweet as strawberry wine; You’re as warm as a glass of brandy; And honey, I stay stoned on your love all the time “- Chris Stapleton, ‘Tennessee whiskey’

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A drop from down under to bring out the Tasmanian devil in you: “It’s a longing for a spirit; And you’ll know when you feel it; Coz it’s pure, it’s clear; and it’s true it’s different down here” – Tex Perkins, ‘See for yourself (An invitation to Tasmania)’

https://texperkins.bandcamp.com/track/see-for-yourself-an-invitation-to-tasmania

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One to stock at holm perhaps? Sweden might be almost synonymous with Absolut vodka but it also makes pretty good whisky, like this Mackmyra single malt. The Swedes also know how to celebrate drinking in song. “If only I could tie my whiskey to a string, so that every time I swallowed a shot, I could pull it back up again” – from, you guessed it, ‘Imagine I could tie my shot to a string’ [I chose this one instead of another popular Swedish drinking song called ‘Teach your mother-in-law to swim’]
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You’ve heard of cask finish, right? Well this is Finnish finish. Sit back in the sauna, pour yourself a dram of either of these Nordic tipples and turn the music of the wonderfully named Peer Günt right up loud. It’s called ‘Good Girls Don’t Drink Whiskey’. Here’s a taste: “Good girls don´t drink whiskey; They don´t fool around; Good girls don´t drink whiskey; They don´t scream and shout”

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Not many people know this but India makes some of the finest whisky on the planet. But what are the chances of it having a whisky song? Slim and none, right? And Slim, as they say, just left town. Well you’d be so wrong. How about this? “Mai ek divana ashik botal meri mahbuba; dunia matlab me dubi or mai botal me duba; ek sip lene do mujhko bhee chein ki; vhisky pilado ise indian brand ki; ” – Dev Kohli wrote the lyrics to ‘Whisky Pilade’ for the Bollywood movie Annarth which translates (loosely) from Hindi as “I am a passionate lover bottle my sweet; Dunia is steeped in meaning and I am dipped in the bottle; Let me take a sip of relief; of Pilade, the Indian brand of whiskey.” Mmmm, best stick to the Hindi.

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Excuse the blurry picture (I may have had a couple of samples by this point). This is Kavalan whisky from Taiwan and very good it is too. But how to find a suitable Taiwanese song? Ah, you underrate me, how about these lovely lyrics, as smooth as a Kavalan single malt on ice? “Don’t be afraid to be weak; Don’t be too proud to be strong; Just look into your heart my friend; That will be the return to yourself” – Difang, ‘Elders’ Drinking Song’ (Taiwan)

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Irish whiskey? Check. Scotch whisky? Check. American whiskey? Check. Czech whisky? Czech… I mean check. With a name like Hammerhead it’s got to be the perfect dram for any card sharks among you. Not only a Czech whisky but a Czech whisky song! It’s called ‘Bedna od whisky’ (‘The crate of whisky’) and part of it goes like this: “Dneska u? mì fóry, òák nejdou pøes pysky; stojím s dlouhou krawatou na bednì od whisky; Stojím s dlouhým obojkem, jak stájowej pinè; tu krawatu, co nosím, mi nawlík soudce Lynch.” Genius. You simply have to stand up and applaud the rhyme between ‘pysky’ and ‘whisky’. Even Google translate cannot save me much beyond that, however, except to tell you that the lyrics refer to standing atop some crates of whisky while wearing a long tie and that the narrator doesn’t much like a character called Judge Lynch (sounds like a hanging judge if I ever heard of one). You can sing along below.

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France might be better known for Cognac and other brandies but it also produces some excellent whisky, including Armorik single malt from the Warenghem distillery in Lannion, North Brittany. You can almost see the scene in, say, a Jean-Luc Godard film, as the smouldering female draws on a Gitanes, reaches for a whisky and gestures her partner towards the boudoir. In my version she’ll break into song: “Cigarettes et whisky et p’tites pépées; Nous laissent groggy et nous rendent tous cinglés; Cigarettes et whisky et p’tites pépées; C’est ça la vie mais c’est bon de les aimer.” (“Cigarettes and whiskey and wild women; We leave groggy and they all make us all crazy; Cigarettes and whiskey and wild women; That’s life but it’s good to love them!”)

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Another Celtic tiger of a whisky, this time from Wales. Penderyn hails from the tiny rural village of the same name in the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park. It is said that early Welsh distillers were the founding fathers of America’s bourbon and Tennessee whiskey industry (in 2012 it was reported that the original recipe for Jack Daniel’s had been discovered in a dusty old book in Wales).

penderynIn fact, I have a bottle of Penderyn ‘That Try’ single malt (left) at home, a gift that could only have been given to a Kiwi by a Welshman (in this case my daughter Sinead’s partner’s Dad).

‘That try’ refers to a famous score by Welsh rugby legend Gareth Edwards for the Barbarians against the All Blacks in 1973 – widely considered the greatest try of all.

So what to sing when you’re sipping on a dram of this beauty down there in the valleys?

I have to admit this one really tested me. I nearly cheated and opted for Gillian Welsh’s Whisky Girl but actually it’s Welch so that won’t do (take a listen below anyway as it’s a great song by a great artist).

Mmmm… ok, I will opt for some Welsh verse instead. It’s by Richard Lloyd Price and it was used in a Welsh whisky ad way back in 1896. It goes like this: “And Ireland and Scotia will both cease to boast; When Welsh ‘white eye’ has got them both on toast; And this still-born idea will not perish still-born; When fame sounds Welsh whisky’s praise loud on the horn.” All we need now is a tune. A new twist for Cwm Rhondda perhaps?

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Ok, let’s go Dutch. And in that literal spirit, I wish someone would share with me a Dutch whisky song. I can tell you, there isn’t one. But do I admit defeat? Do I heck. Instead I offer up a great song by Dessa called, you guessed it, ‘Dutch’, with this brilliant lyric, “Love is like liquor: it burns as it moves you; And far as I figure there’s nobody fireproof.” And just for good measure, the legendary Irishman Liam Clancey’s lovely ‘The Dutchman’, which contains these evocative lines: “The windmills whirl the winter in; She winds his muffler tighter; They sit in the kitchen; Some tea with whiskey keeps away the dew”


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What’s this? The day after the All Blacks beat Ireland in the revenge match and our whisky is consigned to the bottom shelf in the Aer Rianta International store? Hey, I know you accused us of high tackles but this is a low blow. Anyway, who cares, this little beauty slides down as smoothly as Beauden Barrett gliding through an Irish backline. And I’ve found a song equally as brilliant as the boy wonder himself. It’s called ‘Whiskey & Kisses” by Tami Neilson and Delaney Davidson, and was named Best New Zealand Country Music Song 2014. And the lyrics! Richie McCaw-esque in their greatness. “Sure then, why not? I’ll take a whiskey on the rocks; The price of a good time, these days, ain’t a lot; Yes, I’m here alone; No I don’t want you to telephone; You can’t have my number, but you can take me home.” Top-shelf song, for what should be a top -shelf whisky!

This may be Irish whiskey’s spiritual homeland but there’s also an impressive range of Scotch whisky on offer here, representing all the production regions, from highlands to lowlands to Speyside, Campbelltown and Islay. There are almost as many Scottish songs that make reference to the spirit as there are whiskies themselves. But, spoiled for choice, I’m plumping for the bleak, fragile tune of ‘Farewell tae whisky’, not a song that paints a happy portrait of the spirit but in its haunting air transports you away to the highlands and mists of Scotland on a dreak winter’s night.

The bairns at hame are aa roarin an greetin
Nae meal in the barrel tae fill thair wee wames
While ye sit here drinkin ye leave us lamentin
Sae rise up, ma Johnnie, an come awa hame”

An Johnnie arose an he banged the door open
Cryin ‘Curst be the alehous that ere lat me in
An curst be the whisky that made me aye thirsty
An fare ye weill whisky for A’m awa hame’

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And so, to the Irish collection. What a stunning homage to the nation’s heritage of whiskey-making. The pictures below portray just a hint of the thrilling depth of that range. So I’ll close out in song, with my two favourite Irish tunes that involve whiskey. It’s surely the right way to salute how Aer Rianta International has hit the high notes in presenting one of the world’s great travel retail offers.

First up from the genius that is Shane McGowan, latterly of The Pogues, I give you ‘Streams of whiskey’. I’m not sure lyrics (or songs) get any better than this:

Last night as I slept
I dreamt I met with Behan
I shook him by the hand and we passed the time of day
When questioned on his views
On the crux of life’s philosophies
He had but these few clear and simple words to say
I am going, I am going
Any which way the wind may be blowing
I am going, I am going
Where streams of whiskey are flowing

And finally, probably the most famous chorus in the global library of drinking songs. From ‘Whiskey in the Jar’, made famous by The Dubliners (and recorded by countless others), it is a song, like whisk(ey) itself, for the ages.

Musha rain dum a doo, dum a da, heh, heh
Whack for my daddy, oh
Whack for my daddy, oh
There’s whiskey in the jar, oh, yeah
Whiskey in the jar, oh

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