Van Damme muscles in on the celebrity spirits market

ACTION movie legend Jean-Claude Van Damme has joined the growing cast of celebrities putting their names to drinks, by launching a co-owned Irish whiskey brand called Old Oak.

The martial arts star, dubbed the ‘Muscles from Brussels’, 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.”

On tasting Old Oak whiskey he said: “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.”

The name Old Oak originates from the region of Derry County in the north of Ireland –  ‘Derry’ is an anglicisation of the Irish gaelic word ‘Doire’ which means ‘Oak Wood’.

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.”

Old Oak has a signature three-year-old blended whiskey finished from a mixture of bourbon and new oak barrels and a five-year-old blended whiskey finished in a rum reserve barrel.

Irish Whiskey has soared in popularity in recent years, especially in the USA where sales have grown tenfold since 2002. Sales are expected to grow by a further 16% this year. The strong Irish American identity in the USA has reportedly supported this trend.