We owe them our roads and they're bailing out our banks. They send us their cheese and wine and in return we recycle their taxes.
But Europe offers more to Ireland than foreign languages and the Brussels parliament. Irish whiskey experienced a huge resurrection in popularity when it accessed the common market, but just like the roads, the markets run in two directions.
Alcohol has been distilled in Europe for more than a millennium, as the many fine brandies, gins and vodkas that emanate from the continent will attest. And recently, inspired by the great whiskey traditions of Ireland and Scotland, some of our neighbours have been trying their hand at making whiskey too with fascinating and impressive results.
In centuries past, a young gentleman or lady would complete their education with a Grand Tour of Europe, taking in the sights and experiences of the great continent. In these cash-strapped times, we can't all afford to head off to Europe, so the Irish Whiskey Society has decided to bring Europe to you instead.
These drams, often made by artisan producers in small batches, are the new wave of world whiskey production, and you'll not find them in any Irish bar or off-licence. But the Irish Whiskey Society is dedicated to introducing world whiskeys to Irish fans, and for our March tasting we'll be sampling some of the best that Europe has to offer.
We've selected a wide sample of the myriad of whiskey expressions currently being distilled in non-traditional whiskey-making countries. From the 'traditional' European dram (local spirit blended with Scotch) all the way through single malts and cask finishes, with even a hat-tip the traditional Irish style blend, we've put together a sampling of whiskies to showcase what European whiskey has to offer.
With drams from Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales included, you're sure to enjoy an eye-opening whiskey experience in the informative company of our European whiskey guru, Liam Smith.
Note: At the end of the night we vote for our favourite whiskey. Number of votes and placing are included in the tables below.
1. DYC 8 Year Old
2. Goldlys Belgian Double Still
3. Mackmyra Single Malt - The First Edition
4. Frysk Hynder Single Malt
5. Swhisky Skipper Glen Vignettes
6. Penderyn Aum Cymru
7. Arran Founders Reserve