Food & Drink

Mariah Carey, the Belfast company, and being Black Irish or Born Irish

Superstar Mariah Carey, with her Black Irish cream liqueur. Credit: Instagram @mariahcarey
Superstar Mariah Carey, with her Black Irish cream liqueur. Credit: Instagram @mariahcarey Superstar Mariah Carey, with her Black Irish cream liqueur. Credit: Instagram @mariahcarey

IT might sound like Fantasy but there truly is a connection between singing superstar Mariah Carey and a Belfast whiskey brand.

‘Black Irish’, produced by the Drinksology Kirker Greer company – founded by Belfast men Richard Ryan and Steven Pattison and best-known for its Jawbox gin – has agreed to re-brand and sell that iconic name to Mariah for her own cream liqueur product.

Presumably it’s not a Heartbreaker for them, and Mariah can advise them on The Art of Letting Go of their Right to Dream.

The Spirits Business reported that part of the Belfast firm’s portfolio, Darker Still Spirits launched a whiskey-and-stout spirit drink called Black Irish in June 2020, with the company later stating that it had legally filed that particular brand name in 2015.

However, just over a year later, in August 2021, Mariah launched her range of cream liqueurs, also called Black Irish. She chose that name, she explained, because of her heritage, as her mother’s family has Irish roots and she is Black and Venezuelan on her father’s side.

Carey asked the company to forfeit the trademark as it prevented her selling her liqueurs in the UK and the European Union.

Kirker Greer might have declared Up Out My Face, or U Make Me Wanna, or even Never Forget You, but instead took the view that There’s Got To Be A Way.

Ryan amusingly posed for photos in homage to Mariah’s promotion pictures.

The name Black Irish will be Slipping Away from them this summer, with the brand changing to being called Born Irish but Someday those original bottles may be worth much more than they are now, an Unforgettable label.

After legal wrangling lasting more than two years, the company agreed to sell its Black Irish name. Its whiskey-and-stout has rebranded its name Born Irish following the sale.

Richard Ryan, co-creator of Born Irish, and co-founder of distribution partner, Kirker Greer Spirits, said: “We are delighted to have resolved this trademark issue with Mariah’s team so that we are both able to sell our respective brands in our desired territories.

“Our brand name may have changed but Born Irish still contains the same innovative recipe: Irish whiskey aged in Bourbon and stout casks, made dark with infusions of chocolate malt, roasted barley and vanilla.

“On a personal note we also wish Mariah and her team the best of fortunes with their cream liqueur brand.

“We look forward to working with our retail partners and distributors globally to ensure the continued success of Born Irish. We are also excited to bring this brand to the American market, where we believe it will be a challenger in the Irish whiskey category.”

Born Irish will be getting a worldwide push in the second half of this year, and the linkage with Mariah Carey is the cream of free publicity.