We sat down for a chat with Serghios Florides, Editor in Chief and Owner of the Irish Whiskey Magazine.
How long have you been in interested in Irish whiskey?
I suppose my interest goes back decades really. I’ve always had a fascination with it. My father, my uncles, and my grandfather, who had a glass of Jameson every night and lived to 104, were all whiskey drinkers. When I was a student whiskey and coke or with ice was my tipple, but my interest didn’t really develop into anything more serious until 8 or 9 years ago.
How did your interest in Irish whiskey develop into the Irish Whiskey Magazine?
4 or 5 years ago I started going to tastings, doing research, looking at different brands and at the history of Irish whiskey. Then I started doing Twitter posts under @irishwhiskeynews. I was reading online whiskey articles, various blogs, and newspapers features but there wasn’t anything in print that was anything more than an insert or short page in one of the standard magazines. I started Irish Whiskey Magazine as a hobby as I wanted to present not just the whiskey itself but the background, history and heritage of it.
It seems like there’s a close knit community inside of Irish whiskey, would you agree with this?
Yes, I think for me that’s one of the things I really enjoy about Irish whiskey. Tastings bring people together but there’s also the societies and people sharing stories and knowledge of Irish whiskey. My wish is to see everyone who’s involved in the trade benefit from the success of Irish whiskey.
Irish whiskey and the magazine really seem quite personal to you.
I ran my own quite successful business before, but unfortunately I had cancer back in 2005 and I lost the business. It really made me take a deeper look at what I wanted to do with my life and it wasn’t easy to rebuild my social life either. Going to tastings and learning more about Irish whiskey gave me the opportunity to do that. It became a passion, almost an obsession. I eventually bit the bullet, quit my stable IT job and am now fortunate to do something that I don’t consider work.
What do you think the future holds for Irish whiskey?
I’m very optimistic because I think we are going to get an explosion of brands coming out. It will be great for the publicity and development of Irish whiskey and hopefully some of these will bring new angles to Irish whiskey and further develop it. I still think the major brands are the ones that are at the forefront pushing the category. I think they have the chance to be a bit more innovative. Export is key with everybody wanting America, but I can really see Asia taking off as a market.
So now to actually tasting Irish whiskey. How do you enjoy yours?
It really depends on the mood and the company I’m with. If I’m there to taste whiskey and enjoy it and relax I’d have it neat. If I’m out having a casual drink I don’t have a problem with taking it with a mixer or in a whiskey sour cocktail. I love my nice pot still whiskeys and single malts. Powers John’s Lane is my go to whiskey. I also like Redbreast 12, Black Barrel and Teeling Single Grain. To spoil myself I’ll go for a Dair Ghaelach.
What’s coming up in the next issue of Irish Whiskey Magazine?
We’re going to be looking at whiskey from the bartender’s viewpoint. In terms of the magazine itself we’re doing a digital e-book version which should be kicking off in March and we’ll also be developing the website. For me, the magazine was always meant to be a physical product, something you can hold in your hands. We do recognise the demand for digital; we’re just very careful that we want to do digital well. We’re not trying to replicate the magazine.
Where can people get hold of the magazine?
The magazine is available through retail partners such as Celtic Whiskey Shop and Mulligans, and in most distilleries too. You can also visit our website irishwhiskeymagazine.com and social media @irishwhiskeymag.
Thanks to Serghios for taking the time to chat to us.