Whiskey on the streets of Manchester: How Northern Quarter trends have set dark spirits back in vogue

By Patrick Christys

The whiskey renaissance has hit Manchester. (And arguably the whisky one too). 

Dark spirits are once again back in vogue after being pushed out into the cold in favour of white rum, gin and vodka.

The Whiskey Jar is treating drinkers to the delights of the firewater in the Northern Quarter and the Whisky Shop is peddling fine malts from across the globe, after launching in the summer.

And the difference between the two? Whisky refers to the Scotch variety and whiskey refers all the others, mainly Irish and American.

MM caught up with the Brand Ambassador of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, Greg Slattery, a 22-year-old Dublin lad, who is tasked with promoting and distributing the brand throughout Manchester.

He is passionate about the city and firmly believes that Manchester is the whiskey capital of England.

He said: “People in Manchester really care about what they drink. They’re educated and know what they like; they don’t just drink to get pissed.”

Greg, who believes that he has ‘the best job in the world’, says that in order to spread the whiskey phenomenon throughout Greater Manchester you only have to become popular in one area: the Northern Quarter.

Greg said: “The Northern Quarter is the heartbeat of what happens in Manchester, it sets the trend. There’s a real sense of community here as well, which is great.”

And The Whiskey Jar manager Nick Parr agrees.

Nick, 28, says that ‘the Northern Quarter’s trendy crowd’ dictates the trends of Manchester as a whole – and this has contributed towards The Whisky Jar’s success.

Such a range doesn’t go unnoticed in Manchester.

In fact, Assistant Manager at the The Whisky Shop Joe Ellis, believes Manchester is just the kind of place where you can find a crowd who appreciate good whisky.

“Manchester is definitely a drinking town,” the 26-year-old Ellis said. “A lot of people drink just to enjoy the flavours rather than get drunk – which is not the case everywhere.”

That explains why they boast 115 varieties of the spirit then.

While they run weekly tastings for their ‘W Club’ members, The Whisky Shop will also be spreading the Christmas cheer by offering tasting sessions where people can match whisky to a particular type of Christmas cake.

Joe explained: “The idea arose because Mancunians have a thirst to try something new. People want an experience when they’re drinking.”

Perhaps the main reason why Irish whiskey has re-emerged as one of Manchester’s favourite spirits is because increasingly it is being included in the city’s other love: cocktails.

“Cocktails have helped Irish whiskey become popular with an even younger demographic,” said Mr Slattery.

Mr Ellis agrees that the introduction of whisky cocktails has helped the industry branch-out into the younger market.

He says that the combination of ‘fruity flavours’ and the fact that there are ‘so many different styles of whisky’ make it ideal for cocktails.

Whisky’s inclusion in chic, trendy cocktails is also making it more accessible to females, according to The Whiskey Jar’s Mr Parr.

He said: “I have lost count of the amount of young ladies who perceived whisky as something that had to be drunk straight have tried something like our whisky Mojitos and realised that there was a different dimension to the drink.”

Picture courtesy of Jack Zalium, with thanks.

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