Brian Nation and Patrick O'Shaughnessy in Cork recently.

An Irish-American water of life

When Patrick O’Shaughnessy says ‘I have an idea’ there are two ways people react – some will run as fast as they can while others will pay attention. One day, over a relaxed drink with friends and family, Patrick had the idea of opening a distillery that would create Irish + American whiskey in one bottle.

Not one for waiting, Patrick travelled to Ireland to meet with some distillers in Dublin but, although encouraged, didn’t find the right partner. He got then the tip to contact the master distiller Brian Nation and after a phone call, both agreed to meet in person to discuss some potential collaboration.

Originally from Turner’s Cross but living in Blarney, little did Brian know that Patrick is a man of action and three days later was back in Ireland. The rest is history as Brian made the leap of faith and brought his entire family over to Minnesota (it definitely wasn’t the weather that lured him over).

Fast forward – moving across the globe and a little pandemic didn’t stop Brian and Patrick creating Keepers Heart. A blend of Irish and American whiskey, Keepers Heart has collected awards in the States since its launch and being hailed one of the most awarded new whiskeys last year in American competitions.

Now, Patrick and Brian are back in Ireland to introduce the new concept on our shores. Keepers Heart comes in two versions – one blend uses 53% Irish whiskey with 47% American rye whiskey while the other is a blend of 41% Irish whiskey and 59% American bourbon whiskey.

The unique characters of both styles of whiskey come together in a harmonic marriage of flavour notes with a smooth texture that makes this whiskey attractive for people who find the usual whiskeys too rough on the palate.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Patrick, Brian and even Patrick’s mum last week and it became clear after just a few moments that family is at the core of everything the O’Shaughnessys (originally from Galway – leaving during the Famine) do and Brian and his family have been embraced like long lost family members.

Patrick even created a presentation for Brian to show his children to persuade them to make the move across the ocean. Having two whiskey lovers at the table, I had to ask what is the correct way of drinking whiskey?

Depending on who you talk to, either neat, with a drop of water to ‘cut’ the whiskey or on the rocks (or horror for most whiskey lovers in a cocktail).

Brian said: “The demographic of whiskey drinkers has changed over the last few years and people just chose their own correct way. This makes Keepers Heart so perfect as it is so versatile that it is excellent neat but also great in a cocktail.”

The team just wants you to enjoy the whiskey with the intent it was created – to bring two worlds together with pure joy. Over the next few years, the team wants to release more whiskeys to make it a series of five whiskeys. Keepers Heart is available from Bradley’s in North Main Street for €49.95.