Congratulations Padraic Rafter, our very own World Champion!
For the second year running, Padraic Rafter, manager of Paris Texas, has scooped the award for World Whiskey Bar Manager of the Year at the World Whiskes Awards in London. We caught up with Padraic to find out a bit more about his achievement, what it means to him and a bit more about the man himself!
Hello Padraic and massive congratulations on your award - two years in a row!
Can you tell us a little about the award and what it means to you?
I am completely taken aback to be honoured like this for the second year in a row at the Whiskey Icons Awards. When I think back to last year when I was watching the virtual award results while painting the office, in a locked down Paris Texas, not expecting anything from it and dropping my paint brush when I realised my name was being called out, I am still blown away. This year to think that I have won it again and not only that but got to travel to London for the award night as my first trip outside Ireland for over two years, it means so much to me both personally and professionally. I feel I am very lucky to have any involvement, no matter how small, in the current resurgence of Irish Whiskey and while I enjoy all the whiskeys of the world, my heart will always be with Irish Whiskey. I have had the pleasure of getting to meet the people behind this resurgence and see the new distilleries popping up all over the country and more than any award I am honoured to be in the presence of greatness.
Tell us a little about the bar you run, Paris Texas, Kilkenny Whiskey Guild and Irish Whiskey hospitality in Kilkenny?
We have been building Paris Texas into one of the best bars in the country for years and we have picked up various awards along the way, but certainly two of the highlights would be winning National Pub of the Year in 2019, 2020 & 2021 as well as Global Whiskey Bar Manager of the year for 2021 and 2022. I am very lucky that the owner and the man behind Paris Texas has a passion for Irish Whiskey also, Paris Texas would not exist today if not for Pat Crotty and indeed the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild has benefited immensely from Pat’s involvement. We have worked hard on building a strong team with a great knowledge of whiskey both in house and with the help of the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild and while like every other hospitality business we have faced major setbacks with Covid-19, we are back on our feet and building our team again. The Kilkenny Whiskey Guild's events are now also coming back with all the training and the influx of whiskey enthusiasts that come with them. The atmosphere in Kilkenny is amazing for any whiskey enthusiast, even in the heart of lockdown online tastings and online groups have flourished.
Tell us a little about yourself, what do you do when you’re not winning awards and seeking out the best Irish Whiskeys?
I try to spend as much time with my family, my partner Kelly and daughter Matilda, as possible. A lot of my free time still revolves around whiskey and trying to keep myself informed with the current affairs of the whiskey world as well as the greater bar world in general. I also have a keen interest in history and read as often as I can but there are often not enough hours in the day for it all!