June 2011

An Independent Spirit

By: Martin Bihl
photos by Doug Young


Just one look at the new labels on Michael Collins Irish Whiskey and 10 Year Old Single Malt and you know this brand is blazing a different path. It starts with the man on the bicycle.

Abaigeal Hendron, Marketing Manager for Michael Collins Irish Whiskey, photographed at Huckleberry Bar in Brooklyn, NY.

"That's the man himself, Michael Collins" explains Abaigeal Hendron, Marketing Manager for Sidney Frank Importing Company's Michael Collins brand. "He's an icon, not only of Ireland-he's the man who signed the treaty that created the Republic-but also of the independent spirit that is central to our whiskey. It's a part of everything that makes us who we are."

It's no surprise that independence is prized by Sidney Frank Importing. "Mr. Frank was infamous for his independent thinking and creativity," Hendron says. "And the company he created prides itself on being independently owned. Plus, he really admired and respected Michael Collins."

That independent spirit begins literally at the beginning, because the whiskey is made in small batches in the last independent Irish-owned distillery in Ireland, the Cooley distillery.   

"They use long-neck copper stills," Hendron continues, "that give Michael Collins a taste that is unique and distinctive. But the most important thing is that we're double-distilled, which gives us a little more flavor, a little more character than other Irish whiskeys," adds Hendron. "And bartenders are loving that, because it's great neat and it still really stands up in mixed drinks."

The unique qualities of Michael Collins are something that the judges at the world's most famous spirits competitions have picked up on as well. Michael Collins Blended Irish Whiskey recently took home the Chairman's Trophy at the Second Annual Ultimate Spirits Challenge, and the 10 Year Old Single Malt picked up Double Gold as well as Best Irish Whiskey accolade at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

"We're exceptionally proud of the Single Malt," Hendron glows. "It's lightly peated and aged ten years-and there aren't a lot of Irish single malts available. But we went the extra mile to create it, and we believe the public will think it's really been worth it."

The extra mile. Sounds like the perfect job for a man on a bicycle.


At  Huckleberry Bar in Brooklyn, NY, co-owner Stephanie Schneider mixes an orange-laced Michael Collins cocktail.


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