When Reid’s malt house and Malone’s bonded warehouse went up in flames in 1875, a path of delicious boozy destruction cut its way through the Liberties in Dublin.
1800 puncheons of whisky and £2000 worth of malt came pouring through the streets completely ablaze, causing chaos and panicking the animals and people roaming the city. The blazing booze caught fire to everything it touched, spreading flames so quickly it was impossible to do anything but run—or in some cases, try to capture the precious liquid before it went to waste. Unable to use water to staunch the flames in fear that it would only make things worse, the fire brigade did their best to slow the river of fire by breaking up the streets in its path. Sand and manure was shoveled in front of the fast-moving liquor but despite best efforts, the Whisky Fire devoured everything it touched and still stands as one of the most destructive infernos Dublin has ever seen.
Eventually the fire brigade was able to suffocate the flames running through the streets with copious amounts of animal poop, allowing them to focus on putting out the buildings. While considerable structural damage occurred, miraculously not one person died in the flames or from smoke inhalation—however the Whisky Fire did have victims. As the city burned, crowds gathered around the edges of the booze river and attempted to capture free drinks in hats and boots.
However, the whisky was undiluted and was far stronger than the usual whisky sold in bars and bottles. Several people drinking the high-proof liquor contracted alcohol poisoning. It’s not clear how many Dubliners perished trying to knock a few freebies back, but the number hovers somewhere between four and 10 casualties.