Big shots supporting our Irish whiskey!

WHEN I arrived at a remote airport last week, the first thing the immigration officer said was 'Irlanda - poitín!'

Yet the name recognition associated with Irish bars and brewing has not gained much international market share for spirits - especially compared with Scotch.

But that's now changing following Pernod's success with Jameson and Diageo's Bushmills' acquisition.

Hopefully, C&C will apply its marketing prowess to Tullamore Dew.

Spirits marketing legend Sidney Frank reckoned Irish whiskey will be the next cool thing. His launch of 'Michael Collins' whiskey in the USA may prove another runaway success for the family that championed Jagermeister, Grey Goose and Tequila.

So much so, that that they ran short of bottles, if not bottle. Frank worked with creative spirit right up to his recent death at a mature 86. It will be interesting to see how the family firm manage the succession.

Though he had no personal links with Ireland, Sidney thought up the name having seen the 'Michael Collins' movie: though it bombed in the USA, he reckoned Collins represented 'a heroic spirit'.

Biographer Tim Pat Coogan liaised with the Collins family, contributing a slice of the juice to a charity one Collins descendent runs for down-and-outs in Smithfield - like the traditional Gaelic 'offering for blind Aenghus'.

The Irish tradition of 'the split' was also observed, with one grand-nephew condemning the stunt as a cheap shot exploiting the abstemious Mick.

But by picking a daring insurgent, was the great Jewish drinks entrepreneur - who passed away during the launch - out of step with President Bush's War on Terror?

Perhaps Sidney Frank's successors should remind punters that while Collins certainly liked a sup, a more voluminous consumer of Kilbeggan's Locke's Distillery was one Winston Spencer Churchill! Hopefully Mícheál, Sidney and Winston will meet up above for a scoop!