This week saw the launch of an impeccably detailed book documenting the history of Whiskey in Newry, while at the same time Old Newry Whiskey has made it back on the shelves of the city's Off Licences!

Over 70 people joined a Zoom launch online, which saw Journalist Sarah Travers talk about the book with Author Michael McKeown. Guests including Peter Makem and Francis Gallagher read excerpts and Tommy Sands even got the chance to debut a never before heard song, highlighting the virtues and the odd peril of Newry Whiskey, way back then.

Matt D'Arcy & Old Newry Whiskies.
The book launched this week - Matt D'Arcy & Old Newry Whiskies.

Michael who is behind this year's welcome return of Newry Whiskey to the market, has spent years researching and gathering material together for the book entitled 'Matt D'Arcy & Old Newry Whiskies'. It's a beautifully illustrated book detailing not just the Matt D'Arcy story but the story of Newry itself. The cover is a stunning reproduction of an old Matt D'Arcy promotional print showing barley being cut in the fields above Newry.

Matt D'Arcy & Co Old Newry Whiskey.
Matt D'Arcy & Co Old Newry Whiskey now available at local off licence's.

Oldest Whiskey in the World

Indeed a bold claim which should make Newry people immensely proud, puts Newry Whiskey in the forefront as the oldest in the world. "Newry Whiskey is the oldest authorised whiskey in the world, being chartered by King Maurice McLoughlin in 1144 A.D. and endorsed by Turlough Luineach O'Neill in 1575 A.D." states the book.

To endorse the claim the Author quotes historian Jonathan Bardon writing about Newry saying the "town had to be largely rebuilt as a result of an accidental fire, caused by a whiskey distiller, in 1600"

The two Gold Medal Award winning Whiskies from Matt D'Arcy & Co
Matt D'Arcy & Co Ltd - A Newry Whiskey revival.

From the Cistercian Monks in 1144 to Samuel Hanna, Moore and McCord, Denis Caulfield and Robert Thompson, Henry Thompson and Duncan Alderdice, they all played their part in the story of Newry Whiskey.

Matt D'Arcy born in Carlingford 1791 joined the whiskey business partnered by Caulfield and Thompson in 1817. It was then based at Caulfield Distillery Dromalane. Matt was 26 and just two years later Denis Caulfield had died leaving his "interests in the said Distillery Concerns" to his 20 year old nephew, Denis Caulfield Maguire who the book explains "overnight became the wealthiest man in Newry." Denis and Matt's friendship was to last a lifetime.

The book is a maze of connections, and details many famous Newry people of the time connected in one way or another to the story of the city. There was Lord Russell of Killowen, the Lord Chief Justice of England, Mother Mary Baptist Russell who ministered in California and Hill Irvine, father of Sir William Hill Irvine, premier of Australia to name just three.

In 1884 fifty cases of  D'Arcy's 'Four Star' Newry Whiskey were offered for sale in Melbourne, an indication of its popularity at the time.

Explaining the moment the Matt D'Arcy renaissance started Michael details a Sunday lunch in 2015 with his wife Carmel, at Fitzpatricks Restaurant near Carlingford, where he noticed an old gilded mirror on the wall advertising Hand in Hand Irish Whiskey Newry "At that very moment at the age of sixty-nine and all of six weeks retired from a succession of innovative businesses, I saw my destiny: the revival of Old Newry Whiskey." said Michael.

Michael is presently in the process of bringing Old Newry Whiskey distilling back to his adopted city and the building of the Matt D'Arcy & Co Ltd Distillery on Monaghan Street is underway. Already in 2020 the company have brought out two Gold Medal winning Whiskies, Matt D'Arcy's 17 Year Old Single Cask and Matt D'Arcy's 10 Year Old Port Finish. This week they've also launched their Old Newry Whiskey with the fantastic catchphrase "Since 1144 and before"

Matt D'Arcy passed away in 1857 aged just 66, It certainly seems that despite a 'little bit' of a hiatus of 100 ish years, the Matt D'Arcy story and Old Newry Whiskey has still some way to run - Sláinte!

Where to Buy

You can be one of the first people to buy a bottle of Old Newry Whiskey in Newry in the 21st Century.

Purchase at Anjo Wines, Fiveways, Mulkerns Eurospar, Railway Bar, Niall Clarke Oils Service Station and Winelodge Greenbank or go online to HOMEDELIVERYWINE.COM

Get the Book

You can also order a signed copy of the book at WEEBOOKWORMS.CO.UK

Watch the virtual launch at WWW.YOUTUBE.COM

More information at WWW.MATTDARCYS.COM

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