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Proust Whisky Questionnaire: Martin Lynch

Martin Lynch is the Asia-Pacific Commercial Manager for Teeling Whiskey, one of the Irish brands leading the charge of the current Irish whiskey renaissance. Based in Melbourne, he’s the Australian face of Teeling, whose 24-Year-Old was named the World’s Best Single Malt earlier this year.

Describe your job in five words

Whiskey warrior, passion, fun, travel.

What do you appreciate most in a whisky?

Flavour, balance and complexity are pretty important but also uniqueness as you gotta love any whiskey that just stands out from the crowd as being a ‘wow!’

What do you appreciate least in a whisky?

Crappy packaging. I’m a big believer that great whiskey should have great packaging and bottle. There’s no point in having lovely whiskey packaged in a cheap looking bottle because nobody will want to try it or buy it.

What is your most treasured whisky?

I was given a special staff only Teeling Tribe bottling of our single pot still whiskey when it came of age. It’s the first whiskey to come out of Dublin in nearly 50 years, which is pretty significant when you consider the city was once the global capital of whiskey production. It’s a piece of Irish whiskey history in a bottle so I’ll definitely be holding onto it. I’m also dipping into my bottle of our 24-year-old a lot more sparingly after we won Worlds Best Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards this year.

What is your favourite virtue in a whisky bar?

Easy-going welcoming staff, decent whisky selection, and good ambiance. I think Whisky & Alement in Melbourne absolutely nails it. As part of my role, during the past five years I’ve travelled all over Australia and Asia drinking in a ton of different whisky bars but W&A is still my favourite spot to enjoy a dram.

What do you most dislike in a whisky bar?

Pretentious vibes, poor whisky selection.

If you could have any job in whisky, what would it be?

I’m lucky enough to be able to live on the other side the world representing a whiskey from my hometown while getting paid to travel all over Asia-Pacific meeting and sharing whiskey with all the cool characters in the whisky community, so I reckon I already have the dream gig.

What is your favourite distillery name?

Probably because it’s a funny sounding name but I’ve always loved the sound of the Marrowbone Distillery. It has all but disappeared now but was once one of the powerhouse Dublin distilleries during the last golden age of Irish whiskey in the 1800s. They exported all over the world including to Australia. Unfortunately, they closed down in the 1930s but the stories live on.

Who is your hero in whisky?

John Teeling. He’s the Godfather of the Irish whiskey revival having founded the first new distillery in the country in over 100 years during the 1980s when he founded Cooley after buying an old Irish Government owned distillery which made industrial grade alcohol from potatos and converting it to make malt whiskey. Without his vision and we would not have the Teeling Distillery, which was founded by his two sons Jack and Stephen, or for that matter any of the numerous new distilleries that have popped up in the last couple of years. John has made a massive contribution to getting Irish whiskey back on the map and despite being in his 70s now he’s still going full steam ahead and recently opened a new distillery Great Northern, making whiskey on a big scale again.

What is your idea of whisky happiness?

Enjoying a good bottle surrounded by good friends. Doesn’t get much better.

What phrase do you most overuse when talking about whisky?

“It’s all about liquid on lips,” when talking about getting Irish whiskey back into people’s glasses.

When do you lie about whisky?

When I’m six whiskeys deep in a bar in Shanghai having been on the road for a week and my wife calls me and asks have I been drinking much on the trip.

Who or what is the love of your whisky life?

My wife Ciara, she has been the supportive and forgiving ‘whiskey widow’ staying at home over the past five years while I spend months on the road spreading the good word about Irish whiskey and Teeling.

What is your happiest whisky memory?

Winning Irish Whiskey Brand Ambassador Of The Year at the Icons of Whisky Awards Australia 2019. I celebrated hard that night in Adelaide surrounded by a bunch of the legends that make up the Aussie whisky community. Hains & Co, Cry Baby, Maybe Mae, were all hit heavy that night - good times!

What is your saddest whisky memory?

Being based so far from home I’ve missed a couple of big milestone events happening back at the distillery. For some reason it’s just not the same Skyping into the launch of a new whiskey.

Who do you most admire?

The bartenders, venues owners, retail workers. They do the real work for the brands talking to consumers about our whiskey at the coalface.

Sherry cask or bourbon cask?

Bourbon cask with a sherry finish. The perfect marriage. Ever the diplomat me!?

If you could work at one distillery, which one would it be?

I’m pretty happy where I am, but the one step beyond that would be opening my own distillery so we’ll see what the future holds.

What is your greatest achievement?

We have just launched our first ever Aussie exclusive bottling which is an idea I brought to the table after sharing drinks in Hong Kong with some cool winemakers from the Clare Valley a few years ago. It’s a collaboration with Jim Barry Winemakers and we used their The Armagh Shiraz (delicious wine) casks to finish the whiskey. The result is a phenomenal 17-year-old single malt with lovely rich dark fruits from the Aussie shiraz casks so I’m super proud to have played a part in bringing this one to fruition.

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