The 69th Regiment, known as 'The Fighting Irish,' was founded on December 21, 1849. In November 2019, ahead of its 170th anniversary, a special Irish whiskey was unveiled to commemorate the iconic force.

The Fighting 69th Regiment has a cherished place in the annual New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade at the top of the march, and now they’ve got a new Irish whiskey named in their honor.

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On November 19, the formal launch of the Fighting 69th Whiskey took place at the Tara Rose Irish Bar, not far from the Regiment’s headquarters on Lexington Avenue and East 25th Street.

The whiskey will initially be available in New York City and other cities on the East Coast, just in time to mark the Regiment’s 170th anniversary on December 21, 1849.

According to a press release, the concept for a special Irish whiskey dedicated to the 69th was the brainchild of Colonel (Ret.) James Tierney, a former officer in the unit and a trustee of its non-profit Historical Trust. Having also served for ten years as the 69th Regimental historian, the idea came to him during one of his many visits to Ireland.

Colonel Bill Donovan (1883-1959) leads the parade of the 69th New York Volunteers up Fifth Avenue, New York, USA, circa 1918.

Colonel Bill Donovan (1883-1959) leads the parade of the 69th New York Volunteers up Fifth Avenue, New York, USA, circa 1918.

“With our strong Irish heritage, members of the 69th are invited to Waterford each year to participate in the annual Tricolour celebration, which marks the creation in 1848 of the flag that would eventually become the Irish Republic’s national flag,” recalled Tierney.

“It’s been my honor to attend the celebration frequently and a few years ago, while enjoying the festivities with a taste of local whiskey, it occurred to me that the Fighting 69th should have its own Irish whiskey.

“A partner of the Espiritus Group, a spirits development and marketing company, was touring the armory and I mentioned the idea of a Fighting 69th Irish whiskey. He was immediately intrigued, and we set about to make it happen."

Scott Reid, chief marketing officer for Espiritus, said the company’s leadership team are strong supporters of the United States military and quickly embraced the idea of an Irish whiskey for America’s pre-eminent Irish heritage army unit.

“It made total sense,” Reid said. “Some of the finest whiskeys in the world come from Ireland and the category is currently on fire. To be able to help create a great whiskey brand and have it associated with a military unit with the reputation and tradition of the 69th Infantry Regiment was an opportunity we simply couldn’t allow to pass by.”

A portion of the sale of each bottle sold will benefit the trust and support its historic preservation mission as well as philanthropic activities on behalf of the Regiment’s veterans and their families.

You can learn more about The Fighting 69th Irish Whiskey on its website.

The origination of the 69th Regiment

According to SixtyNinth.net, "After the failed Young Irelanders Revolt in 1848, Irish revolutionary activity transferred from Ireland to New York City. Irish patriots in New York believed they needed to form an Irish Brigade composed of Irish regiments to free Ireland from British control. To that end, they began to organize independent military companies in New York City. In late 1848 and early 1849, the first companies were formed. Drills were conducted at the Center Market and by mid-1849, a skeleton of the First Irish Regiment had been formed. As can be seen in the Lineage and Honors Certificate, which is mounted on the wall in the front hall of the 69th Armory, it is to this regiment that the 69th traces its earliest history and lineage. The Lineage and Honors Certificate of the 69th Regiment can be found online.

"Michael Doheny, a refugee from the failed 1848 Revolt was one of the Company Commanders of this Regiment. He was instrumental in the founding of all the early Irish Regiments.

"In the summer of 1849, and continuing until the fall, Irish leaders in New York City began negotiations with the State to form an Irish regiment with the existing and future independent Irish companies. On December 21, 1849, the First Irish Regiment was adopted by the State. (This date is the officially recognized date of organization for the 69th Regiment.)"

The Fighting 69th.