Category Archives: Distilleries

Project Vault, Moyvore, Westmeath.

I got fierce excited  about a 138 million euro proposal to develop a whiskey maturation & filling facility near the village of Moyvore – only a half hour from my home in Westmeath.

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It’s the less ‘sexy’ side of the whiskey industry whose main attractions are the actual distilleries with their gleaming copper pot stills.

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A Teeling pot still c/othewhiskeynut

Whiskey maturation warehouses are simply that – warehouses  – but they do smell nice with all that wood & slow release of whiskey to the angel’s share!

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Tullamore Warehouse c/othewhiskeynut

Project Vault plans to offer a service to Irish whiskey distilleries whereby the clear new make spirit is transferred to Moyvore – probably by road tanker – carefully filled into wooden casks and then put on the shelves for the minimum 3 years period to slowly take in all the tastes, flavours & colours of the wood before it becomes that fabulous brown spirit I love – whiskey.

Most of the new whiskey distilleries that are currently being built have no storage facilities on site.

The current Dublin distilleries of Teeling, Pearse Lyons, Diageo & Dublin Liberties have no choice. Ever since the infamous 1875 Liberties whiskey fire – no whiskey has been allowed to mature within the confines of Dublin City.

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Diageo’s distillery site c/othewhiskeynut

The established distilleries of Bushmills & Midleton are currently expanding their storage capacity on lands adjacent to or nearby their present sites.

Westmeath’s own Kilbeggan Distillery – along with it’s sister Cooley Distillery in Co. Louth – now owned by US giant Brown-Forman is also running out of space due to the increased demand for Irish whiskey throughout the world.

It’s this demand and welcome worldwide growth in Irish whiskey sales that local businessman Alan Wright is trying to satisfy in developing this much needed facility in his home county of Westmeath.

A public meeting to discuss the proposal was recently held in the St Oliver’s Community Centre in Moyvore itself. Excited to hear what the full plans were – I went along.

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Project Vault presentation c/othewhiskeynut

Cars were strung along the R392 road as the community hall was filled by over 100 local residents. On the top table were Alan Wright himself flanked by Robert Allen – a structural/civil engineer with 35 years experience who works with Allen Barber Ltd engineers who have been commissioned to design & build the facility – and Dr George Smith – an eminent ecologist with Blackthorn Ecology who will be overseeing the environmental  impact of the development & it’s ongoing lifespan.

I must confess to bumping into Dr Smith on a number of occasions. The most recent being engaged on an environmental BioBlitz on the beautiful Clare Island where despite the frenzied wildlife finding activities, time was found to enjoy a few whiskeys in the fabulous Sailors Bar!

A short video introduced the project to us.

It laid out the rise of Irish whiskey & the need for more maturation sites. The process by which the site at Moyvore was chosen over & above about a dozen other sites around Ireland. – It should be noted here that to be labelled as Irish Whiskey the spirit has to be both distilled AND matured on the Island of Ireland. – The various land surveys, ecological surveys, transport links & other health & safety requirements that had to be met before even the first sod of turf could be turned on the site. How the developers wanted to work with the local community in allaying any fears or worries about the project & how they wished to consult over any issues that could arise during any phase of the plan.

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Artists impression of Phase 1 c/oProjectVault

I considered the presentation a rather thorough explanation as to what was planned, what had been done to date & what would be done in the future to ensure the safe operation of the site for both the workers within, the wider community around and the bio-diversity of the habitat too.

From the outset it became clear the mood was decidedly negative.

Speaker after speaker after speaker voiced their fears about how the development was a threat to the community. Issues were raised over the risk of fire & explosion, increased traffic problems, the threat of black fungus & even a potential terrorist target!

The top table calmly & clearly attempted to explain the actions they had instituted to allay theses issues. Mr Allen said that the safety requirements in the building far exceeded those of the recent American explosion & that a large water storage tank on site to feed a water sprinkling system would extinguish any potential fire within thirty minutes.

The mere mention of a large water storage tank in turn prompted fears of flooding.

Dr Smith outlined they were aware of the black fungus – or angel’s share fungus – which is a particular type of fungus common to distillery sites which creates dis-colouration on nearby vegetation & buildings. There wasn’t much actual research on this species – and certainly I think the whiskey industry ought to do more – but that a planned 100 to 150 metre zone within the site would be planted with a ring of trees to prevent any outbreak from reaching close neighbours.

None of the comments seemed to appease the angry & clearly passionate opposition.

I was taken aback!

No one seemed to think of the increased opportunities for jobs created by such a venture especially given that nearby Longford has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

No one seemed to see the potential tourist development given the nearby Center Parcs site as well as the 40,000 people that visited the Kilbeggan Distillery – that would certainly be a boost to McCawley’s, the only pub & shop in the town!

No one seemed to comment on the growing spend of the Irish whiskey industry both directly & indirectly into the Irish economy of up to 45 million per annum . Maybe some of that money could be used to improve the local roads.

When one of the commentators mentioned there would be no jobs for locals I just had to butt in.

‘I live only a half hour away & I’m a fully qualified haz-chem driver & I’d love to drive a tanker of whiskey up and down the local roads.

Irish whiskey is a growing & well respected product throughout the world. Having such a facility in Moyvore would put it on the world map & lead to a growing tourist industry.

I’m fully in favour of the development.’

Or words to that effect.

Unexpectedly I received a round of applause – almost as loud as that garnished by opponents to the scheme. At the end of the day I was the only person from the floor to voice a positive attitude to the development.

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Local road signs c/othewhiskeynut

Clearly Project Vault have a hard job to do to convince a divided community of the merits of such a development within their midst. The meeting was certainly an eye-opener to me of all the hard work that often goes on unseen to build the infrastructure that produces the liquid I so enjoy.

I hope Project Vault gets the go ahead.

Irish Whiskey used to be number 1 in the world in terms of sales & quality up to the early 1900’s.

It has the potential to win back that title in the future.

Moyvore is an essential part of that future and I wish all those involved future success.

Sláinte.

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I should point out I’m an independent blogger passionate about all things whiskey.

All views are my own and I am not connected in any way to the proposers of this plan nor the whiskey industry in general.

The residents of Moyvore have voiced legitimate concerns that I feel can be addressed by the Project Vault team in whom I credit a degree of trust & faith that they can deliver a state of the art facility that is safe, clean and efficient both for the needs of the whiskey industry and the nearby communities.

 

 

 

The Final Countdown – Day 4

The last day of the Irish Whiskey Distilleries Tour started off a bit groggy as we made our way East along the M6 motorway to the oldest working whiskey distillery in the world – Kilbeggan Distillery.

Kilbeggan happens to be my local distillery so I have some attachment to it. Like a lot of Irish distilleries it has had a colourful past which you may wish to explore – but we took the Apprentice Tour with our cheerful guide Rebecca to explain all that to us.

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Crank up that waterwheel! c/othewhiskeynut

Now owned by Beam/Suntory the distillery houses the old water wheel, working steam engine, micro distillery as well as maturing stocks in a nearby warehouse on the banks of the River Brosna. It makes for a very pretty attraction.

The core brands are the self named Kilbeggan, Tyrconnell, Locke’s & Connemara peated whiskey – just to break the myth that only Scotch is peated. Most are actually distilled in the sister Cooley Distillery with Kilbeggan’s  small output ending up as part of the blends.

I wasn’t expecting any surprises on the tour having taken it before a few times – but when it came to the tasting,  the Kilbeggan Single Grain looked distinctly different.

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The new Kilbeggan Single Grain c/othewhiskeynut

Not only has it been re-labelled – it’s had a re-make!

Now boasting some sherry finish influence & boosted to a 43% ABV. From the small sample I tasted I’d give it the thumbs up.

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Re-labelled Tyrconnell c/othewhiskeynut

Tyrconnell also had a new label – although we were assured the single malt within is to the same recipe.

Kilbeggan happens to have a bar on the premises where the tastings are conducted – but it is also open to the public. Distillery exclusives can always be picked up here even if you don’t do the tour – which is handy – but as it was a Sunday when we visited the bar didn’t open until noon. So we pressed on.

Dublin was our last port of call. Specifically the Liberties area of the city which is fast becoming a mecca for the whiskey industry it once was in the past.

Teeling Distillery on Newmarket Square is leading this revival having opened in 2015. The founders Jack  & Stephen Teeling – the sons of the aforementioned John Teeling who just happened to be visiting on the day we called! –  are now carving out their own way in the whiskey world.

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Natalie and the spirit safe c/othewhiskeynut

Teeling is currently the only working distillery in Dublin. The tour immerses you in the rich history, sights, sounds & smells of the vibrant whiskey making process together with some tasty samples of all that hard work in the trendy Bang Bang bar on the second floor. It’s fast becoming a must see attraction & advanced booking is advised to avoid disappointment.

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Teeling’s own single pot still Poitin c/othewhiskeynut

In head distiller Alex Chasko, Teeling have a very innovative person who has released a wide range of award winning whiskeys under the Teeling brand. As yet they are all sourced from other distilleries – but the Spirit Of Dublin Poitin is interesting as the spice from the malted & unmalted mash-bill comes through on the triple distilled spirit. A company to look out for.

The last three distilleries are all in varying degrees of completion. All are in the historic Liberties area within 5 minutes of Teeling.

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Dublin Liberties Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

The Dublin Liberties Distillery is only a short walk to the rear of Teeling Distillery. In the safe hands of master distiller Darryl McNally – who spent many years in Diageo’s Bushmills learning his craft – they have released the Dubliner Irish Whiskey range along with the Oak Devil & Cooper Ally expressions. Building works are now in progress at the site.

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Pearse Lyons Distillery nearing completion c/othewhiskeynut

One distillery whose building work is almost complete is the Pearse Lyons Distillery on Thomas Street. Pearse is the Dublin born founder of Alltech who has the money to indulge his dream of opening his own whiskey distillery – in a former church no less! The plan is to release an Irish single malt. Alltech already have the Town Branch Distillery in Lexington KY who have released a range of bourbon, single malt & rye whiskeys for your pleasure. I must admit to having a soft spot for the Town Branch Rye.

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Diageo’s Roe & Co site c/othewhiskeynut

Also on Thomas Street Diageo themselves – after an absence of a few years post their Bushmills sale to Cuervo – are back in the Irish whiskey scene with plans to redevelop the old Guinness Power Station. I happily got invited to their launch night a while ago & enjoyed the Roe & Co blend released in advance of the distillery being built.

Talking about Roe & Co – who remembers George Roe & Co? At the time one of the largest & most popular whiskey distilleries in the world based in the heart of Dublin. He wrote a book railng against the rise of ‘silent spirit’ as produced by the newly invented Coffey Still.

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Roe & Co c/othewhiskeynut

I wonder what he would have made of the modern whiskey industry – built as it is on the back of that ‘silent spirit’ in the manufacturing of what we now call blended whiskey. Especially when his name is being used for one of those blended whiskeys.

Sorry to say George Roe’s fortune declined in the early 1900’s as blended whiskey rose & the distillery is no more.

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George Roe’s windmill c/othewhiskeynut

All that is left is the old windmill.

A testament to the foibles, follies, fortunes & mis-fortunes of whiskey making.

An apt way to end our Irish Whiskey Distilleries Tour.

I’ll drink to that!

Sláinte.

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The Wild Atlantic Whiskey Way – Day 3

We’d actually been on the Wild Atlantic Way since Derry – and the sea views from the North Mayo coast road raised our spirits in the early morning light.

But to begin with we ventured on a little detour!

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Site of new distillery? c/othewhiskeynut

Whilst in the bar the previous evening tales were told of a distillery in Sligo. We drove to the site in Hazelwood House but found little to confirm nor deny those tales. An internet search did reveal planning permission had been granted in 2016 – so if anyone has more information then please get in touch!

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Connacht Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Our first planned visit meanwhile was Connacht Distillery in Ballina. A guided tour of the recently opened & fabulous looking shiny new facility by the banks of the River Moy had been arranged. Lyndsey kindly agreed to an early start to show us round the gleaming pot stills & lovely wooden lined tasting room of the spacious site. Like most new distilleries Connacht have a range of sourced products they sell until their own actual spirit is flowing.

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Straw Boys Poitin & Vodka c/othewhiskeynut

Interestingly one of the freshly filled barrels of Connacht new make single malt recently made it’s way over to the beautiful scenery of Clare Island to quietly see out it’s maturation time in the stunning coastal location there. No doubt a large party will be in order when that barrel is finally bottled!

The Straw Boys Poitin – which is now Connacht’s own spirit – & Spade & Bushel Single Malt made an impact this early in the day – but what interested me was the Brothership Irish-American Whiskey. It’s a blend of 10 year old American rye whiskey with similarly aged Irish whiskey and is one of many new expressions currently going down this hybrid whiskey style to either much applause – or disdain.

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Brothership Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Personally I think it’s a great idea & has sold out fast! I managed to get my hands on the last bottle before a new label adorns the expression to comply with Irish whiskey regulations. The rye certainly comes through in the mix which pleased me no end.

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Nephin barrel top c/othewhiskeynut

Only a short drive down the road is Nephin Distilery. Nestled in the pretty village of Lahardaun under the towering bulk of Nephin mountain,  Nephin Whiskey have chosen not to release any spirit until their own peated single malt is matured. Using locally grown barley & locally sourced peat – or turf as it’s called in Ireland – this will be a malt with some terroir. My name is already down on the list for the Reserved First Bottles offer!

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Artists drawing of Nephin distillery. c/othewhiskeynut

Nephin have very ambitious & well thought out plans for an attractive distillery in the town along with a malting floor too! Wonderful news. The site is empty at present but everything is going according to plan for this forward looking company. Construction is due soon & expected to be complete by 2018. More power to them.

A long drive through counties Mayo & Galway was eased by the stunning scenery – as well local lads Saw Doctors singing their songs on the car  stereo.

The busy crowds of Galway City slowed down our progress as we made our way to the home of Micil Poitin in the popular spot of Salthill.

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The still & the poitin. c/othewhiskeynut

The enthusiastic founder Pádraic Ó Griallais met us in his micro distillery behind the Oslo Bar where just like his ancestors, Pádraic makes 100% Irish grain Poitin infused with locally sourced bogbean botanicals. The results are a soft, smooth yet slightly spicy refreshing drink which is often used as a base for cocktails.

He also hoped to do a gin soon – and whiskey was on the cards too! But the timescale wasn’t finalised. Nonetheless his Micil Poitin went down very smoothly. We even sampled a taster at 80% which despite my initial misgivings actually proved to be quite palatable. You could still taste the attractive flavour through the powerful alcoholic kick!

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The Micil story c/othewhiskeynut

The Oslo Bar is also the original home of Galway Bay Brewery – who have since moved onto larger premises in Ballybrit – and is a lovely gastropub serving delicious food & snacks on the popular Salthill promenade which was thronged with folks enjoying the wonderful sunshine.

Later on in the evening we also ventured out into the sunshine on the famous Galway Whiskey Trail to sample the Galway Bay Irish Whiskey that is only available in the 10 pubs & 1 off-licence that make up the trail. We settled on Freeny’s in the end with it’s marvelous selection of Irish whiskey on display.

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Beer of the day c/oLeoPhelan

Being Saturday night the bars were packed with revellers – but we did find space in the newly opened Caribou bar who stocked an impressive array of craft beers, gins & whiskeys. I couldn’t resist a can of Commotion Lotion. A collaboration between pop act King Kong Company & YellowBelly Beer. A tasty & fun beer to end the day!

Dram of the day?

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Neck detail c/othewhiskeynut

The blended expression of Irish whiskey & American rye that is Brothership.

Well done Connacht Whiskey!

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Over The Top – Day 2

Day 2 of our Irish Whiskey Distilleries Tour dawned rather dull & grey as we continued our journey North to Bushmills Distillery.

Proclaiming to be the world’s oldest distillery with a license to distill from 1608 – living in Westmeath I know Kilbeggan Distillery is actually the oldest working distillery with a continuous license housed in the same building from 1757. The Bushmills Distillery we took the tour in today wasn’t built until 1784.

Regardless of the history, Bushmills is currently owned by Jose Cuervo and the distillery produces an excellent array of age statement single malts along with some pleasing blends. The highlight of hour long tour – which went through the history, manufacturing & maturing process as well as the all important tasting at the end – was undoubtedly entering the extremely hot working still room crammed tight with the stills full of soon to be fresh distillate! Demand is so great there are plans to double the capacity by building a new stillroom on the expansive site.

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Bushmills Distillery Reserve c/othewhiskeynut

As this was the first distillery we visited that had their shop open a bottle of the 12 Year Old Distillery Reserve made it into the bag. A pleasant mainly sherry cask matured triple distilled malt presented at 40%

Oddly enough Bushmills malt is not peated unlike it’s nearest working distillery – Laphroaig on Islay – which is only a short sea crossing of 30 miles away or so. On a good day you can see the hills of Scotland from the nearby Giant’s Causeway coast. There is a new ferry service taking you on the short crossing if you wish called High Sea Spirits – now that would be an adventure!

As our car isn’t amphibious we took the road instead to Derry where Niche Drinks are building their Quiet Man Distillery in the former military barracks of Ebrington Square. We were kindly met by Ciaran Mulgrew – the managing director of Niche Drinks – who proudly showed us round the building site explaining how a modern & stylish distillery with an attractive visitors centre could be built within the old listed building and  yet still retain it’s history & integrity. He also told some wonderful stories of how cross party alliances which straddled the former divided city came together to get the project off the ground. Very impressive.

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View of Derry Peace Bridge from inside Quiet Man Distillery site. c/othewhiskeynut

What is also impressive is the award winning bar & restaurant that is Walled City Brewery handily adjacent to the distillery. Happily we had booked a tasty meal here & despite stocking Quiet Man whiskey – the allure of some tasty craft beer proved too much for some! Wonderful.

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On Tap in Walled City c/oLeoPhelan

The sun came out as we made our way down to Sliabh Liag Distillery. Situated just inland from the impressive sea cliffs  that it takes it’s name from. The actual distillery site hasn’t yet even started – but we were enthusiastically shown round by the highly  informative & engaging founder James Doherty.

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I’d like my new distillery here please! c/othewhiskeynut

He comes with a wealth of experience from his years in the drinks industry & his stories of that career mirrored the seanachai traditions of Donegal –   so we repaired to the local John The Miners Bar in Carrick where a glass of the Silkie blend awaited us. This sourced whiskey’s name recalls old stories of seals taking on human forms when ashore to befriend lonely menfolk – it certainly befriended us with it’s soft yet slightly spicy notes.

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The Silkie blend c/othewhiskeynut

We could have stayed for longer – but a long drive through the stunning coastal scenery to our hotel for the night in Sligo beckoned.

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Seanachai central! c/othewhiskeynut

A nightcap in Thomas Connolly’s Bar rounded off our extremely entertaining day covering the whiskey distilleries across the top of Ireland.

Dram of the day?

There wasn’t one to top the stories we heard from our day on the road & in the bar that evening!

Sláinte.

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The Road North – Day 1

After weeks – nay months – spent pored over maps, contacting distilleries & working out routes & times – the day finally arrived when it all came together – to borrow a Beatles track.

With a fresh set of – rented – wheels the inaugural Irish Whiskey Distilleries Tour finally hit the road – North!

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Boann Distillery Drogheda c/othewhiskeynut

Using Dublin as the start & finish point – a small party of dedicated whiskey fans took the short trip up the M1 motorway to our first port of call – Boann Distillery in Drogheda.

Boann is one of those new breed of whiskey distilleries that are currently still being built. Tours are not yet officially permitted but we were kindly shown round this wonderful looking site by Peter Cooney – one of the family members who own this growing drinks business.

When fully complete – a 2018 timescale – Boann will be producing single malt, single pot still & blended whiskeys – along with a tasty award winning range of craft beers already being brewed from it’s neighbouring brewery – and all complimented by a very attractive copper pot stills hall overlooking a field of barley – well, what else could it be?

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The Whistler 5yo Double Oaked c/othewhiskeynut

The Whistler is Boann’s range of award winning single malts from a sourced distillery that are on the market in advance of their own stock.  They comprise of a 7 & 10 Year old Single Malt and a 7 Year Old Cask Strength. We kindly had a tasting in the boardroom where Peter pulled out a new 5 Year Old Double Oaked bottle. It’s not yet released – but tastes lovely.

Slane Distillery is the dream of Alex & Henry Conyngham who along with Brown-Forman – owners of the Jack Daniels bourbon brand – will soon open this magnificent distillery set in the Slane Castle grounds on the banks of the Boyne River.

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Slane Distillery under construction July 2017 c/othewhiskeynut

Sadly construction works were still in progress on the day we arrived so a quick photo of the ongoing works sufficed. For a review of the lovely sourced Slane Irish Whiskey blend read a previous blog of mine here.

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GND Dundalk c/othewhiskeynut

Great Northern Distillery (GND) in Dundalk is the new powerhouse of John Teeling who ploughed back in the money made from the sale of his Cooley/Kilbeggan business to Beam in 2011. The GND operation can produce grain, single malt and single pot still whiskey & will mainly sell that whiskey to 3rd parties – although a limited release own brand Burke’s Single Malt has just been marketed.

Handily the nearby Kennedy’s Bar happened to have a bottle to sample over our lunch stop. Burke’s is a reassuringly strong bourbon cask matured single malt which coats your mouth & leaves a long warm tingling.

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Burke’s Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

At present GND has no visitors centre – that may change in the future – but the former Harp Lager Brewery is an impressively large facility that will be able to produce a phenomenal amount of Irish whiskey in the years to come.

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Cooley Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

Cooley Distillery nestled on the picturesque Cooley Peninsular is also not open to visitors. This distillery was originally opened by John Teeling back in 1987 & kick-started the revival of Irish whiskey which continues to this day. Now owned by the Beam/Suntory group who use their sister Kilbeggan Distillery as the visitors centre. Another quick photo stop sufficed in the now rainy weather.

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Echlinville Distillery entrance sign c/othewhiskeynut

Our last port of call was the only distillery open & actually accepting tours – Echlinville Distillery on the picturesque Ards Peninsular. Sadly there wasn’t anyone available to show us round at the time we passed by on our way up to Belfast.

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Bittles Bar Belfast c/othewhiskeynut

We did however call in on the wonderful whiskey emporium that is the Bittles Bar who stock the Echlinville range of whiskeys. At present these are also sourced spirits – but the finishes they add to Dunville VR single malt, Three Crowns blend & Bán Poitin certainly make this distillery one to look out for in the future.

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Duke Of York Belfast c/othewhiskeynut

The Duke of York provided our last dram of the evening. Another fabulous whiskey bar in the heart of Belfast.

Our dram of the day?

Boann’s The Whistler 5 Year Old Double Oaked. A lovely rich sherry on the nose follows through on tasting combined with sweet bourbon cask maturation notes into a long finish.

Sláinte

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Irish Whiskey Distilleries Tour

Whiskey Distilleries.

Factories, farms, garden sheds or industrial units in which whiskey is manufactured.

They come in all shapes & sizes.

And they are as attractive to whiskey fans as bees are to honey.

To see them, feel them, touch them & smell them.

To experience the characters & the stories that lie behind them.

And to engage with them in their natural environment whether it be surrounded by fields of barley swaying in the wind, salt laden breezes on the wild Atlantic coast or gently rolling green countryside. The environment that ultimately shapes & molds the whiskey into the wonderful array of tastes & smells of the spirit in your favourite glass.

To this end I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to try and put together a trip encapsulating all the new, planned & existing whiskey distilleries in Ireland in one big tour.

Logistically & timescale wise this proved to be a bit of a whiskey marathon spaced out over a week – so a game of 2 halves was suggested.

Hit The North is the inaugural first half covering the Irish distilleries north of an arbitrary line from Dublin to Galway.

Look out for my future posts covering how the trip went!

Sláinte.

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Kingsbarns Distillery, Fife, Scotland.

I happened to be in Scotland over the Bank Holiday weekend & used the opportunity to visit a whisky distillery.

Kingsbarns Distillery is the dream of local lad Douglas Clement who was frequently asked during his golfing caddie days if there was a local whisky distillery to visit.

At the time Fife – despite being the spiritual home of golf as represented by the St Andrew’s Links Course – as well as the spiritual home of Scotch whisky – well, at least the earliest written record as represented by the ‘8 bolls of malt‘ ordered in 1494 from nearby Lindores Abbey – had no whisky distilleries.

Well at least no sexy & sleek single malt distilleries.

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Cameronbridge Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

Because in Cameronbridge Distillery – which happens to be the largest in Europe – I would argue Fife has the spiritual home of blended whisky.

Originally founded in 1824 as the Haig Distillery, it used the newfangled invention called the continuous still – as designed by Stein & later improved upon by Irishman Coffey – to produce gazillions of gallons of grain whisky. This heralded in the rise of blended whisky which underpins & fuels the wealth of the whisky industry today.

Cameronbridge still produces gazillions of gallons of grain whisky to this day, but like most giant grain distilleries with their industrial style of production, it is out of bounds for whisky tourists.

Kingsbarns Distillery is definitely not out of bounds.

It’s whole premise in fact could be interpreted as a visitors attraction that happens to produce whisky.

It’s early days for that whisky yet however.

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The 1st cask c/othewhiskeynut

Only opened in November 2014 with the first barrel of new make being filled & registered in March 2015 – it can only legally be called whisky in March 2018.

In the meantime there is a lovely delightful Spirit Drink to sample as part of the very informative & enjoyable tour.

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B-raw spirit indeed! c/othewhiskeynut

Bottled at 63.5% this fresh, bright & clear raw whisky certainly exploded in my mouth with the high alcohol content. Yet it retained some subtle soft sweet barley notes which hinted at good things to come. Adding a drop of water only diluted the overall experience and I preferred the raw energy of the full strength offering.

All the barley used is grown locally with the water being sourced in an aquifer deep underground below the sandstone rock underneath the distillery itself.

Wemyss Malts – a long established & respected family of independent whisky bottlers & blenders also hailing from Fife – or should that be fae Fife? – are also behind the distillery. An eclectic array of their blended malts and single cask expressions are on display in the visitors entrance area.

Talking about Fay Fife – here she is singing her classic hit Top Of The Pops!

As part of the tour I sampled the Kiln Embers blended malt at 46%. A pretty little sweet smoke of a whisky.

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Kiln Embers c/othewhiskeynut

I also bought a couple of age statement Peat Chimney miniatures – airport restriction friendly – for later enjoyment back in Ireland.

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A pair of peat c/othewhiskeynut

The Kingsbarns Single Malt however – when it is fully matured – will be a softer, fruity & floral bourbon cask aged single malt. Fife after all has no peat banks but is awash with lush fields of barley & fecund banks of wild flowers & shrubs which attract a rich bio-diversity of wildlife.

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Used Bourbon Cask waiting filling c/othewhiskeynut

Even while sitting outside the well presented cafe – enjoying some locally sourced & produced fare – I was gently serenaded by Skylarks singing high in the sky above me accompanied by Pheasants rooting around in the hedgerows below.

As a visitors attraction Kingsbarns excels.

The long drive into the historic & carefully restored building from the main A917 road well serviced by the St Andrews to Leven 95 bus route. Views of the verdant countryside with the blue sea glimmering closeby. Friendly attentive uniformed staff both in the well appointed cafe & distillery. A highly informative tour that encompassed the history, geology, sights, sounds & smells of both Fife – as well as the process of whisky making itself.

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Aromatic display c/othewhiskeynut

I even surprised myself by correctly identifying a few of the interactive ‘aromatic world’ samples!

Along with some beautiful whisky.

What’s not to like?

Fife is also fast becoming a whisky tourist destination in it’s own right with up to 6 whisky distilleries either currently up and running as in Cameronbridge, Kingsbarns, Daftmill & Eden Mill – or yet to be completed as in Lindores Distillery & Inchdairnie.

A world of whisky awaits!

Sláinte

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Kings County Distillery, Brooklyn

Last week Birmingham.

This week Brooklyn.

I had to squeeze a few days of work inbetween these 2 trips as well and it felt a bit like I was living out the old Beastie Boys classic;

At Whisky Birmingham I chanced upon Kings County Distillery‘s UK importer Amathus & tried some their Peated Bourbon release.

At Brooklyn I booked myself into one of Kings County Distillery tours in the grand old Paymaster Building inside the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard. Located only a short walk from either the York St subway or the iconic Brooklyn Bridge itself – it’s easily accessible for anyone staying in New York.

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Paymasters & distillery entrance c/othewhiskeynut

Dave – our tour guide on the day – entertainingly took us through a potted history of whiskey distillation in Brooklyn taking in topics such as civil war, taxes, legal & illegal production, alcohol consumption, Irish immigration, prohibition as well as many other related – or not – subjects & then tied the whole lot up together with the founding of Kings County Distilling itself in 2010.

I’ll repeat that year again.

2010.

Because that makes Kings County Distillery the 1st legal whiskey distillery in New York City since prohibition.

History has long tentacles.

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Bubbling mash c/othewhiskeynut

We were shown the whole whiskey making process from the mashing of the grains in open fermenters,

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Copper still c/othewhiskeynut

To the distillation in copper pot stills,

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Whiskey maturing c/othewhiskeynut

To the maturation of the spirit in virgin american oak casks in the upstairs warehouse.

Kings County Distillery have chosen to go down a a fairly traditional route in that they produce a predominately high corn mash bill bourbon with only a small amount of barely from Scotland.

The use of small casks allows a shorter maturation period – generally less than 2 years – before it is deemed suitable for release. Some larger casks have also been laid down for future expressions & I couldn’t help noticing the ‘rye’ mark on some casks indicating a welcome addition to the current range at some date.

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The future is rye? c/othewhiskeynut

Tasting the actual product of all this hard work and silent development in the wood is obviously the highlight of any tour.

Kings County Distillery treated us to 4 expressions from their current range.

Starting with the Moonshine release at 40%.

The nose was the classic oily & slightly rotten fruit smell I associate with an unaged spirit. The taste followed through as expected with no real surprises. A perfectly fine & smooth example of this style of spirit which is often released by new distilleries as a showcase and money maker whilst the real bourbon or whiskey slowly matures.

The Bourbon release came next.

At 45% ABV this high corn bourbon with added barely, aged for 2 summers, gave a classic caramel sweet bourbon nose & taste together with a little bite. Another perfectly fine example of it’s style which hasn’t gone unnoticed by discerning drinkers as well as whiskey judges by the the amount of awards won.

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Tasting time! c/othewhiskeynut

The Winter Spice Whiskey at 40% had me a little confused. It’s basically the standard bourbon release above infused with a mix of baking spices normally associated with Xmas – cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves along with others – but yet it doesn’t have that sweet honey mix of many a liqueur nor can it be a whiskey with the non conventional additives. There is a market for this type of flavoured whiskey however. I couldn’t say it would be my cup of tea though.

A choice of Chocolate Whiskey or Peated Bourbon was offered for the last sample.

It should be obvious which one I went for.

I found the Peated Bourbon the most interesting and satisfying expression at Kings County Distilling.

At 45% the addition of peated barley from Scotland gave a welcome waft of smoke to the sweet bourbon caramel which raised the resultant spirit to a more entertaining yet vaguely familiar flavour profile.

Of the 3 Brooklyn distilleries I visited, Kings County Distilling seem to be the most established outfit producing a fairly traditional style of bourbon which is gaining many admirers. They also do a cracking distillery tour which certainly engages you with the whole whiskey making process.

I can’t say they set my palate alight – but I do wish them  future success –  they are a welcome addition to the whiskey distilling world.

One thing is for sure – I eagerly await any future rye expression they intend to produce from the casks I spotted on the maturation floor!

Slàinte.

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