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Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.

Mark Twain

This week, I have been the privileged guest of the Republic of Ireland. My host has been the stand alone economic development arm of Ireland, called Enterprise Ireland. They superbly hosted me and about one hundred other IoT world experts and guests at a conference focused on Smart Cities in the brilliant emerald city of Dublin. They kindly paid for all airfares, hotel, and food, and my employer generously contributed my time. The conference has been excellent in every manner of description. I learned many new things. So, that is my personal measure of a very successful week – to learn new things. I also met many wonderful people, a group of kindred souls all focused on the Internet of Things to underpin the development of Smart Cities.

Enterprise Ireland has been a generous and gracious host. They continue to impress me. And, this is my second time attending one of their events here in Dublin. And, I am more impressed this time compared to the last time, and I was seriously impressed the last time I was here in June 2018.

The diversity of world-class experts attending this event from around the globe is truly impressive. I have meet some incredibly smart and capable people who have delivered many amazing smart city projects that created significant value and enhanced the quality of life for the citizens of the many cities that they serve or service. The audience was composed of municipal employees and services subcontractors.

Enterprise Ireland is unlike other government agencies in that they are very proactive and not reactive. I am told that they are profitable too! So, they are a very rare example of how governments should work for their constituents.

Normally, I do business trips in a very prescriptive manner. I fly in, take a taxi to the hotel, sleep, meet the customers, and then take a taxi back to the airport, to fly home.

However, this trip has been very different since Enterprise Ireland changed the game. Now, with even more business travel on the horizon, I tend to do what I like to call, “hit and run” travel. So, I am clearly a traveller and not a tourist. I never take time to visit the sites or do non-work activities. I just pop into a city, do the business, and then get out and back home.

However, this trip, Enterprise Ireland offered us an exciting ‘experience’ opportunity that I simply could not pass up.

Today, we visited the Irish Whiskey Museum. Now, I know absolutely nothing about alcoholic spirits of any kind, let alone whiskey, so I saw this side trip as an opportunity to learn something brand new.

I have consumed whiskey only once or twice before in my life, but only when I lived in Japan about 40+ years ago when I was about 20 years old.

I hated it. It was awful, vile stuff.

Now, here I am, about to drink it again.

Our whiskey expert educated us in many unique aspects of the process to make whiskey. Her name was Grace and she perfectly informed us about the history, materials, processes, and business folklore. While she was clearly and decidedly bias towards Irish whiskey, she presented her appropriate biased perspectives with a tongue in cheek, rascally, sense of humour. I absolutely loved her teasing, fun, and highly informative whiskey education.

The exact origins of whiskey are widely debated, but it has been suggested that Irish monks may have picked up the skills of distilling perfumes while on trips to the Mediterranean during the 11th century. Producing Irish whiskey evolved from a local pastime into an industry in 1608, when Northern Ireland’s Old Bushmills Distillery became the world’s first licensed whiskey distillery.

Scotland soon caught up with and out-produced the Irish distilleries, especially after the introduction of the column still there in 1831, which enabled quicker and easier production of larger quantities. Despite this dominance, Irish whiskey made from a mix of malted and unmalted barley in a pot still continued to grow in popularity. By the beginning of the 20th century, it was the most widely consumed whiskey type in the United States.

There has long been dispute about where whiskey originated. It is widely accepted that it was from Celtic origin, but was it the Scots or the Irish?

When you talk to the Irish they will tell long stories of Irish Christian monks who travelled far and wide picking up the trade of distillation from Arabia around 500-600AD. They mastered the art of distilling grain and water on their return to Ireland.

But when you talk to the Scots, well, they tell you of the hard written evidence that proves whiskey was in distillation in 1494. There is a record on the Exchequer Rolls of ‘eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae’. Well you just cannot dispute that fact.

However, to Scottish dismay there is new evidence to suggest that indeed the Irish were distilling Irish whiskey before Friar John. According to Barry Walsh, an author writing for the Whiskey Magazine, tanned reindeer skin with carved writing dating back to pre-Christian times has been discovered along the River Liffey during some excavation works.

When ‘translated’ it states that a man called Pah-Dee “Resumed heating the murky bubbly mixture of grain and water, and collected a fiery liquid through worm and reed pipe. “Tastes bad. Made me dizzy and sick and I had to lie down” and continues to refer to it as the “fire water”.

If it truly exists, where is the reindeer skin hiding now? For those who are a little more skeptical there are further written records of Irish whiskey in the Annals of Clonmacnoise dating back to 1405, stating “A.D. 1405. Richard Magrannell Chieftain of Moyntyreolas died at Christmas by taking a surfeit of aqua vitae. Mine author sayeth that it was not aqua vitae to him but aqua mortis.” So there you have it, proof that whiskey originated in Ireland, so you can think of them the next time you are having a little tipple.

Learning new things is always fun and entertaining. So, if you ever voyage to Dublin, be sure to book a tour at the Irish Whiskey Museum, you will be glad that you did. If like me, you are not a whiskey connoisseur, then I highly recommend going simply to be educated about things that you were previously unaware. Drink whiskey in moderation as it has a powerful unyielding strength and it will knock you down if not properly respected.


About the Author:

Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies.

He is a business and technology consultant. He is employed by Wirepas Oy from Tampere, Finland as the Director of Business Development. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).

Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V). 

He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.

He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario.  For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section. 

He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 15 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.