Last updated on October 18th, 2023 at 09:52 AM
Hollywood movie legend Jean-Claude Van Damme has today announced the global launch of his co-owned Irish whiskey brand called Old Oak.
In a world filled with action-packed movies and adrenaline-pumping stunts, few names stand out as prominently as Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Known for his incredible martial arts skills and charismatic on-screen presence, Van Damme has been a global icon in the world of cinema for decades. But now the actor has taken on a different role as businessman, becoming a partner in a product he loves.
The martial arts action hero, dubbed the “Muscles from Brussels”, discovered Old Oak whiskey at a chance meeting with a friend and business colleague. The actor was looking to partner with and co-own a whiskey brand and he found Old Oak Whiskey.
Jean-Claude Van Damme, said: “I was looking for my own brand of whiskey possibly an American bourbon and then one of my close friends and business associates asked ‘why an American whiskey when you can go back to the roots of whiskey and find an Irish whiskey?’.
“He then introduced me to the Old Oak whiskey label which had yet to be launched and had been put together by some Whiskey aficionados in Ireland.”
Jean -Claude Van Damme quickly resonated with the idea of being part of an Irish whiskey and also connecting with the rich history and legacy of Irish Whiskey.
As Jean – Claude added: “It was also the perfect opportunity to combine two things with which I feel a close connection …whiskey and its rich heritage and the charisma and warmth of Ireland and its people.”
After further tasting Old Oak whiskey he realised that this was the right whiskey for him.
“I loved its aroma and the smoothness on the palate compared to the more heavier whiskies I had tasted from different parts of the world,” he added.
Jean-Claude Van Damme also empathised strongly with the name and its origin and the legacy it represents.
The name Old Oak originates from the beautiful region of Derry County in the north of Ireland known as “ Oak Leaf County”.
The word “ Derry “ is actually an anglicisation of the Irish gaelic word “ Doire “ which means “ Oak Wood ”.
Kevin Carson one of the co- founders of the Old Oak label is from Derry County and he felt strongly that an Irish whiskey should represent and connect with the name of the County.
He also felt it was important to remember the long tradition and history of Irish whiskey making in the north of Ireland.
It is believed that whiskey first originated in Ireland made by Irish monks and was one of the earliest distilled alcoholic drinks dating back to the 11th century or earlier.
In fact the word ‘Whiskey’ is again an Anglicisation pronunciation of the Irish gaelic word ‘Uisce’ meaning ‘water’ and the Irish monks originally called whiskey ‘Uisce Beatha’ which means ‘the water of life’ .
The art of whiskey making has been carefully passed down from generation to generation.
The Irish whiskey distilling process is not just a craft, but it’s an art form steeped in history and heritage that speaks of a time when things were simpler, and traditions were kept alive.
Old Oak has a signature 3-year-old blended whiskey finished from a carefully selected mixture of bourbon and new oak barrels and a 5-year-old blended whiskey finished in a rum reserve barrel .
Old Oak whiskey regards itself as a craft premium whiskey which is sourced from carefully selected whiskey stock and currently finished using a carefully managed process in a craft distillery just outside Belfast and using what is believed to be some of the purest water in Ireland straight from a 300 foot deep well located on site at the distillery.
Old Oak whiskey is a craft premium whiskey which gives the whiskey consumer a choice of Irish whiskey which is not as expensive as the older aged whiskies.
Old Oak is also planning to introduce in the near future a Pot Still and a more exclusive older whiskey .
Jean-Claude Van Damme was born in Belgium in 1960 and started his career as a competitive kickboxer, earning a black belt in Shotokan karate and a reputation for his formidable fighting skills.
However, Van Damme had bigger dreams in mind. He moved to the United States in the 1980s, with limited English-speaking skills but an abundance of talent and ambition. He took on a series of odd jobs while tirelessly honing his martial arts skills and auditioning for acting roles.
Van Damme’s breakthrough came in 1988 when he starred in “Bloodsport,” a martial arts film that showcased his incredible abilities. This film propelled him to stardom, and he followed it up with a string of action-packed hits like “Kickboxer” and “Universal Soldier.” Van Damme became synonymous with high-octane action and was beloved by fans worldwide.
Derry native Kevin Carson and his Old Oak co-Director and co- shareholder Ian Rowlands, added: “We are proud to partner with world renowned actor Jean-Claude Van Damme whose interest in premium whiskey led him to discover Old Oak. What he found we believe was not just a brand but an emotional connection that goes beyond the taste and aroma.
“Jean-Claude embodies the very essence of our brand with his unwavering strength, exceptional character, and unparalleled precision. His relentless pursuit of perfection and attention to detail make him the quintessential representation of our brand.”
Irish Whiskey has soared in popularity in recent years especially in the USA where sales have grown tenfold since 2002.
Irish whiskey sales are expected to grow by a further 16 per cent this year. The strong Irish American identity in the USA has supported the return of Irish whiskey as their whiskey of choice.
The global demand for whisky generally is also expected to continue to grow especially in India and the Far East.
In 2022 India replaced France as the worlds biggest buyer of whisky with a staggering 60% increase in export sales compared to 2021.
It is hoped that this general increase in demand for whisky worldwide will in turn see a further increase in demand for Irish whiskey as consumers seek a greater choice of whiskeys.
Irish whiskey (spelt with an “e”) is typically triple distilled compared with Scottish or Scotch whisky which is usually just distilled twice.
Irish whiskey is generally considered to be smoother and more approachable, while Scotch whisky has a heavier and fuller taste.
Old Oak Whiskey’s award winning three and five year old whiskeys are priced at £34.95 and £39.95 and are available to buy online www.oldoakirishwhiskey.com.