“And the strongest,” Sullivan adds with a laugh. “We understand that here.”
The two of them go back and forth with questions and answers until I’m certain Keira has soaked up enough information that she could go home and revamp Seven Sinners’ entire process. The discussion of the myriad array of barrels used, maturation, vatting, and bottling would normally be something that I’d find somewhat interesting, but Keira’s rapt attention makes it seem riveting.
At the end of the tour, nearly three hours later, Sullivan shows us into the tasting room where there’s a bar and gift shop.
Keira surveys the entire layout, envy rolling off her in waves.
“My assistant, Temperance, would be shoving this in my face right now, telling me I told you so.” When both Sullivan and I look at her, she explains. “She’s been after me to do exactly this for a long time. Bring people in, teach them what we do and why we do it so they feel a personal bond with the brand. Have them taste it and love it, and then sell them all the gear we can before they go on their way. Do you mind if I take some pictures?”
“Go right ahead. And you’ve basically hit it in a nutshell. That’s exactly what we do,” Sullivan says. “We’re not Jack Daniel’s or Jameson, a bottle that people might pick off the shelf because they’ve heard the name. But once someone has been through this distillery tour, they’ll remember Sullivan whiskey for life, and hopefully buy it forever. It’s the personal connection. That’s why, when we built this facility, it was constructed with tours in mind.”
Keira sighs. “I just did a massive renovation to bring us into the twenty-first century—late to the game, as always. We added a restaurant and gave the whole building a face-lift, but starting over and building a facility to cater to tours would be impossible. Not to mention the fact that we’d need to upgrade our equipment too.”
“Maybe right now isn’t the time, but you haven’t been at the helm all that long, have you? You still have plenty of years to get to where you want to go.”
“With unlimited funds, maybe . . . I’ll just have to make the small changes I can, but keep the quality. I have room for a gift shop. We have the restaurant. I just have a feeling my lawyers would freak if I mentioned tours.”
Sullivan grins. “Fuck the lawyers. All they want to do is get in the way. Find a way to make it happen. We’re one of a kind here in Dublin. Sure, you can go tour the old Jameson building, but there’s no whiskey being made there. You get a museum. That’s great for people who recognize the name already, but if you want to stand out in someone’s head, you need more.”
As we sit down at one of the tables and sample flights of whiskey, Keira’s mind is only halfway on the flavors Sullivan is describing. She’s already working through his comments in her head.
And so am I.
When we walk out of the Sullivan distillery, my brain is going a million miles an hour. Mount must have texted Padraig, because the driver pulls up and takes the case of whiskey that Deegan insisted we needed out of Mount’s hands and stows it in the trunk.
I pull out my phone and make a dozen notes to myself about things to discuss with Temperance and Louis when I get back. I have plans. All the plans.
“Would you like me to take you back to the hotel, sir?” Padraig asks.
“That depends,” Mount says, and I tear my attention from my phone and look up to meet his gaze. “What else can’t you live without seeing in Dublin this time?”
This time. That makes it sound like I’ll be coming back, and I decide right then that Mount’s right. I will be back. But for now . . . I know exactly what else I want to see.
“I don’t like beer that much, but I’ve always wanted to see Saint James’s Gate and drink a pint at the Gravity Bar at the top of the Guinness Storehouse.”