Teeling in the years: Irish whiskey is "exploding" right now

John Teeling talks whiskey and entrepreneurship with Bobby Kerr

Teeling in the years: Irish whiskey is "exploding" right now

Michelle Locke / AP

John Teeling set up Cooley Distillery back in 1986 and over 300 awards later, his whiskies including Kilbeggan and Connemara became some of the most recognisable spirits in the world.

In 2012, he sold that business to Jim Beam for a whopping $95m, but that is far from the end of his involvement in this exciting industry.

His sons are now the men behind the Teelings Distillery in Dublin, and he has opened Great Northern Distillery on the site of the old Harp operation in Dundalk.

Mr Teeling, however, does not drink, "I never drank whiskey in my life" he told Newstalk's Bobby Kerr. While researching Irish whiskey's loss of market share he concluded that the product had fallen out of favour due to a mix of "appalling mismanagement" and a failure to deal with "disruptive technologies."

He says that the industry is now "exploding" - this began in the late 90s when a new generation of young drinkers in the US turned to brown spirits as they, "didn't want to drink what their parents had drunk."

They first started drinking bourbon, and then gravitated towards brands like Jameson, because of the smooth and sweet taste of the Irish slant on the drink.

Since then the industry has taken off, delivering growth rates as high as 20%.

The businessman joined Down to Business ahead of the EY CEO Retreat in Boston - speaking about the broader issue of entrepreneurship, he believes that they cannot be "made" but they do need to be fostered and funded.