The 80’s movie action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme has launched his entry into the Irish whiskey market with Old Oak.
The “Muscles from Brussels” says he discovered Old Oak at a chance meeting with a friend and business colleague.
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 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.
The name Old Oak originates from County Derry, known as Oak Leaf County. Derry is actually an anglicisation of the Irish form Doire of wood or forest.
Old Oak 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.
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.
Van Damme moved to the United States in the 1980s where 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 showcasing his abilities.
This film push him towards stardom, and he followed it up with a string of action-packed hits like “Kickboxer” and “Universal Soldier.”
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% this year. The strong Irish American identity in the USA has supported the return of Irish whiskey as their choice.
In 2022 India replaced France as the worlds biggest buyer of whisky with a staggering 60% increase in export sales compared to 2021.
MMA fighter, Dubliner Conor McGregor has also shared the same passion for Ireland and its whiskey.
He found his Proper 12 brand at the oldest whiskey distillery before selling his majority stake for $500m.
Proper No Twelve launched in September 2018, initially in Ireland and the United States. The brand, which was named in honour of the fighter’s postcode for his native Crumlin, shipped over 6 million bottles in eight markets in the first two and a half years of business.
This has made the brand one of the biggest globally behind Jameson, Tullamore Dew and Bushmills.
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.