One of the most surreal events that yours truly has ever attended as a journalist was a press conference, hosted by Boortmalt at its Athy operation in recent months.

Maybe it was a translation issue, but I felt that the tone taken by the representatives of the hosting organisation was unnecessarily direct from the get-go.

You could even say that their approach was verging on arrogance.

Tone and the delivery of a message is one thing; the actual content of what was discussed is something else entirely.


When it came to the latter aspect of the ‘day that was in it’, the members of the visiting Boortmalt team seemed to have only one objective in mind – to flag up the high prices they are paying for Irish barley in 2022.

They kept on referring to the fact that malt, in their eyes, is now a commodity product and internationally traded as such.

Repeated reference was made to the potential that exists to utilise cheaper malt that can be imported from places like Argentina and Australia.

The reality is that all Irish whiskey, beer and stout brands are regarded as premium products the world over. This is a general consensus.

And it is the malting barley grown on Irish farms that consistently delivers this ‘all-encompassing experience’ for consumers, from the US to Japan, China, and all points in between.

So, if aficionados around the world are more than happy to pay a premium price for the whiskey they drink, then Boortmalt should be equally committed to treating its Irish barley growers on a similar basis.

Approach to farming media

I am writing this opinion piece in my capacity as president of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland.

As a body, we fully commit to support and reflect the views of Irish farmers and Ireland’s food/drink processing sector.

I feel Boortmalt should remember this, the next time they seek to engage with AgriGuild members. But enough of the negativity. It is time for a bit of whiskey brand placement.

The story goes that the actor Burt Reynolds helped put Bushmills’ sales on the map in the US by referencing the aforementioned brand in a couple of the movies made during his heyday. In truth, that could be going back four decades and more.

So I say – hail the might Jameson, Powers, Tullamore Dew and all the other whiskey brands that reflect so positively on the island of Ireland.