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HomeWhiskeyMeet Irish Whiskey Superfan Matthew Kelley

Meet Irish Whiskey Superfan Matthew Kelley


Matthew Kelley wish to make clear that his son isn’t named Dingle. In April 2019, Kelley had plans to go to Eire for the launch of Dingle’s first single malt. An avid Irish whiskey fan, he couldn’t watch for the journey. That very same 12 months, Kelley and his spouse, Ashley, discovered that they might expect their first little one collectively, with the physician’s go to that exposed the newborn’s intercourse occurring on the identical day his airplane was to depart.

The 2 agreed to attend till he returned to South Carolina to share the information with their household, however with a sonogram picture tucked inside his passport, Kelley needed to inform somebody. “Being impatient and eager to share the information, 10 hours later, I’m huddled up in a pub over in Dublin, sharing this data, this information that we’re having a bit of boy, with a few of my closest pals in Eire,” he says. The journey became fairly the celebration, and whereas he has a bottle stashed from that occasion to share together with his son as soon as he comes of age, the couple stopped wanting utilizing the journey as inspiration for a reputation. “We didn’t resolve to call our little one Dingle. We didn’t fairly go that far, however it was good enjoyable sufficient.”

For the Kelleys, the story represents how Irish whiskey is a real household affair. The couple collects, travels, and tastes collectively, and as Matthew talks of his pursuit of all issues Irish whiskey, he repeatedly makes use of “we” when describing his relationship with it. “It’s much more enjoyable to have somebody to share these things with, than to be sitting round ingesting it by your self,” he says. “In a single respect, the bottle goes twice as quick. But it surely makes it rather a lot simpler to buy whiskey whenever you’re each concerned within the ingesting of it.”

Poured Over

Kelley found his love of Irish whiskey in 2012, and in the present day has a group of between 250 and 300 bottles. His great-great-grandparents emigrated from Eire, so the nation has at all times held significance to him. “As I grew up, I took a really sturdy curiosity in historical past usually, in world historical past, but additionally historical past of this place the place my household was from, and that intersected with my eventual curiosity in Irish whiskeys,” he says.

A man poses in front of fermenters and a pot still

Kelley on the Dingle Distillery in 2019.

Kelley has learn concerning the historic fall of Irish whiskey from its days as a worldwide powerhouse within the nineteenth century to its depressed state close to the top of the twentieth, when solely three distilleries remained. He tasted and discovered, searching for out specialists like Irish Distillers’ blenders Kevin O’Gorman and Billy Leighton. “I discovered myself reaching out to folks over in Eire who’ve helped me alongside the way in which, each when it comes to training and pleasure of the whiskey,” he says, noting that he’s now pals with many of those sources, citing Chris Hennessy, common supervisor of The Dylan Whisky Bar in Kilkenny, for example. “These pals—the pub homeowners, drink trade specialists, those that work at distilleries, and the historians over there—have guided me on my private journey.”

Whereas Kelley doesn’t think about himself a whole authority on Irish whiskey, he’s conscious of those that have mentored him—and of his position as one thing of a steward for this nice Irish contribution to the world. “It’s at all times behind my thoughts that I need to do my greatest to uphold that proud custom and that heritage,” he says.

A Window By way of Time

Whereas he has deep respect for Irish whiskey’s historical past, Kelley enjoys trying to the longer term with maybe much more enthusiasm. The current rise in new distilleries and the continued renaissance of single pot nonetheless Irish whiskey sign extra nice issues to come back, significantly as these newer whiskeys attain the three 12 months getting old minimal. “It looks like [it’s] by no means been extra thrilling to be into Irish whiskey, a minimum of in my lifetime,” he says, pointing towards the revival of historic mashbills and manufacturing methods. “That’s probably the most thrilling factor—getting a glimpse again in historical past, whereas additionally utilizing trendy methods.”

Lately, Kelley acquired a 1940 launch of Inexperienced Spot, and tasted it alongside a present bottling. “Two utterly completely different whiskeys,” he says. This dynamic is what maybe pursuits him most: how the whiskeys and the whole lot surrounding them have modified over time, and the way he can acquire a glimpse of yesteryear. “I’m at all times looking out for historic bottles which assist inform the story of Irish whiskey,” he says. “To style a few of the historical past from these shuttered distilleries is a uncommon alternative.”

Kelley hasn’t but explored the rising section of Irish-style American whiskeys; COVID-19 disrupted plans to go to Colorado’s Talnua Distillery, which is making single pot nonetheless whiskey based on Irish custom. But it surely pursuits him enormously to contemplate how these new arrivals will slot in with the grand scheme of Irish whiskey. “People usually have at all times felt a reference to their Irish heritage, and to now be bringing that over within the type of whiskey distillation is fairly thrilling,” he says.

Kelley will proceed embracing each the previous and the brand new. “Attempting and exploring issues which are on the forefront of what Irish whiskey will grow to be—that’s what retains you transferring ahead,” he says. “You concentrate on the previous whereas continually exploring the longer term.”

Tremendous-Fan Information

Day by day Drinker: Powers John’s Lane. “It’s such illustration of basic Dublin pot nonetheless whiskey from the heyday of Irish distilling, and it’s typically reasonably priced too.”
The One He Desires of Attempting: Inish Turk Beg. “It’s only one that I needed I had bought the primary time I used to be over in Dublin and I didn’t, and now I’m kicking myself as a result of the value retains going up on it.”
Three Phrases That Finest Describe His Relationship with Irish Whiskey: Historical past, custom, exploration
Most Memorable Irish Whiskey Second: Revealing the gender of his child to his ingesting mates in Dublin simply hours after getting the information
Most Excessive Factor He’s Completed with Irish Whiskey: Kelley combines his love of Irish whiskey and pictures on his Instagram account @vaultedbarley. On a visit to Yoho Nationwide Park within the Canadian Rockies, he and his spouse scaled down waterfalls to achieve the riverbed. “I received the picture that I needed, I felt good about that, however truthfully, whenever you’re sitting again and popping open that bottle of whiskey, watching the rapids, simply sitting in nature, that’s what it was all about to me. It was completely price it.”



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