Whiskey Movie: On the Irish Whiskey Trail

Netflix can be a dangerous thing - thanks to their modern technology and endless library of titles I spend untold hours watching movies that I never would have known existed in pre-Netflix days. On the Irish Whiskey Trail fits this description. I found it on Netflix while browsing through the documentary category, and added it to my queue on a whim. Turns out On the Irish Whiskey Trail is more like a commercial for Irish Whiskey disguised as an hour-and-a-half long travel documentary. If it wasn't for the fact that the film ends with a visit to independent distiller Cooley and a nod to up-and-coming craft distillers I would assume that On the Irish Whiskey Trail was bankrolled by Irish Distillers - part of spirits giant Pernod Ricard and the owner of the three largest Irish whiskey brands.

That's not to say that it isn't worth watching for fans of Jameson, Bushmills, and other Irish spirits. There's lots of information packed into this movie, and you get a virtual tour of several distilleries for much less than the cost of an Irish vacation. The film starts with a quick overview of Ireland's whiskey history and its interconnections with Irish and British political history. The history lesson segues into the story of John Jameson and a tour of Jameson's modern-day visitor center in Dublin. After discussing Jameson's history and production there's an overview of their product line with tasting descriptions for several Jameson bottlings. The tastings are the part that feels the most like a whiskey infomercial, but they're also interesting, and they kinda work because I saw a few bottles that I might have to search out for a taste. Ireland's other distillers, Bushmills, Midleton, and Cooley receive a similar history lesson, then tour, then tasting treatment.

Throughout the film, Ireland's inferiority complex in relation to Scotland is on full display. Early on we're told why Ireland has the best claim to being the birthplace of whiskey, and at each distillery stop throughout the film we hear about the differences between Irish whiskey and Scotch, always with a little effort to make Irish whiskey sound superior.

While I do recommend this film to anyone interested in learning about the history of Irish whiskey and it's modern day production and marketing, I will also recommend keeping your finger on the fast forward button of your remote since each segment of the film is separated by a minutes-long interlude featuring the most annoying Irish music you can imagine. I guess you could always use the interludes as a chance to pour yourself another glass. Netflix says that On the Whisky Trail (a similar documentary about Scotch) is coming soon, so I'll be sure to let you know how that one stacks up once I see it.