Toasting Tullamore D.E.W. with Tim Herlihy at O'Toole's
Tim Herlihy’s world changed dramatically in 2011 when he arrived in the United States as the official U.S. brand ambassador for Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey.
Born and raised in Ireland, his original life’s plan was to become heir to his family’s successful egg farm.
“To be perfectly honest, it was a little awkward,” he said. “I’m the eldest son and the whole plan was for me and my dad to build an egg empire together.
“Just the idea of where I’m from and doing this, it’s just so unusual.”
In just five years, Herlihy has visited 31 states to share a dram of Tullamore D.E.W. with new friends. He’ll be able to check all the others off his list by next month when he completes a 50-states-in-30-days tour in search of what he called “the best Irish pubs and the best ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.”
After kicking off the tour in Los Angeles on Wednesday, he made his first trip to Hawaii for a four-hour layover — in the dark — before boarding another plane at Honolulu International Airport. The official Honolulu stop was at O’Toole’s Irish Pub, where a small group of industry professionals and whiskey aficionados gathered to taste three different Tullamore expressions. A second, unofficial stop was across the street at Murphy’s Bar & Grill.
The two bars impressed Herlihy with their authenticity, he said.
“This is a gem,” he said of O’Toole’s. “And Murphy’s, too. I still haven’t quite realized I’m in Hawaii yet.”
The Triple Distilled D.E.W. (the initials belong to former owner Daniel E. Williams) was a good introduction to the brand with its combination of Irish grain, malt and pot still whiskey, Herlihy told the crowd at O'Toole's. A second, 12-year expression illustrated how the whiskey’s flavor changes as the distillate spends more time aging in wood barrels.
Tullamore D.E.W. Phoenix is a limited edition release, named after the type of bird featured in the town of Tullamore’s coat of arms. At 110-proof, it’s got more punch than the Triple Distilled, and finishing the pot still whiskey in used olorosso sherry casks adds an element of sweetness to the finish. It was easily my favorite of the three, with more complexity than the Triple Distilled and the type of kick I would expect from a “high strength” whiskey, as the bottle's label describes it.
Herlihy headed for Las Vegas following his brief visit to Honolulu, continuing up the west coast to cities like Seattle and Anchorage before heading back south through Idaho, Utah and New Mexico. At last check of his Twitter account on Sunday, he was toasting with customers at Rula Bula, an Irish pub in Tempe, Ariz.
The whirlwind trip comes to an end March 17 in New York City.
Jason Genegabus has covered the local entertainment, nightlife, music and bar scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.