Billy Leighton, Master Blender at Midleton distillery, has been inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame in a special ceremony at The Dean Hotel, Dublin. Billy was bestowed the great honour in recognition of his 42 years in the industry and contribution to the growth of the Irish whiskey category with Irish Distillers.
The Icons of Whiskey Ireland aim to recognise the diversity and passion within the Irish whiskey industry today. The awards are presented by Rob Allanson, Editor of Whisky Magazine who said: “Billy Leighton is an Irish whiskey legend. His contribution to the revival of single pot still whiskey has re-shaped the Irish whiskey landscape and whiskey fans around the world owe him a debt of gratitude. On behalf of Whisky Magazine, I’m delighted to welcome Billy into the Hall of Fame and look forward to seeing what he’s got up his sleeve next.”
With almost a decade of experience as Master Blender behind him, Billy has diligently managed the mature stocks of Irish whiskey at Midleton Distillery in Co. Cork and used his logistical nous to forecast future demands. Some of Billy’s finest triumphs have come in the past 10 years with the revival of the much-loved Redbreast whiskey amongst his greatest achievements. The launch of Redbreast Dream Cask in May 2018 has arguably been the crowning glory of his work with Ireland’s most famous single pot still whiskey and will be remembered as Billy’s dream whiskey.
Billy, commented: “I’m deeply honoured to join the pantheon of whiskey greats in the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame, not least an old mentor of mine, Barry Crockett. It has been a pleasure to watch Irish whiskey regain its rightful place amongst the world’s leading spirits and I hope I’ve been able to make a contribution to this. Finally, I must thank the rest of the production team, past and present, whose dedication to craft and excellence has supported in the creation of some of the finest Irish whiskeys of all time, it’s been a pleasure and I look forward to what we can conjure up next.”
Conor McQuaid, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman at Irish Distillers, commented: “It is a pleasure to offer my congratulations to Billy Leighton upon his induction to the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame – he has been a true inspiration to Irish Distillers and the wider whiskey world over the course of his many years of dedicated service. His commitment to crafting whiskey that is worthy of revitalising the category has inspired a whole new generation with Irish whiskey and for this we will be forever grateful. We doth our cap to Billy and raise a glass in tribute to our Master Blender.”
Irish Distillers was also honoured with a number of top accolades including Visitor Attraction of the Year and Irish Whiskey Producer of the year.