2016 is full of promise here at The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Co. It’s an important year for us in that our production is about to begin. I want to take the opportunity at the start of the year and the start of our production to lay on the line with 100% transparency what we are up to here. I think its important to do this for a few reasons. First of all this industry is in ‘Resurrection’ phase. It’s been about 120 years since there have been this many players and prospective players in the category. The industry has a touch of the Wild West about it right now and that is OK, its to be expected. We need disruptive brands in the category to move it forward and to challenge the status quo and more and more the IWA…..
With the Wild West come Snake Oil Salesmen..again to be expected. I don’t want to be one of those. I don’t want whiskey lovers to think that we are disingenuous but I fear there is a real danger of that. The way we are making our whiskey is an old business model brought back to life, but such an old business model that its new again and therefore open to criticism/confusion. The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Co. is in my mind pure and simple a Start-Up. Sure,its not a glamorous Tech Startup with a killer App, but in every other capacity we need to behave in exactly the same way, both in terms of our product development, business model and the Passion behind what we are trying to do. This means we can’t operate in perhaps the Holy way that many WhiskeyPhiles would like us to.
I don’t have a grain to glass operation at the moment because I don’t have a few million euros in my back pocket to build a distillery. Neither can I wait 6 or 7 years to go to market with product I have made myself from organic Ninja barley I have sprouted personally, I wish I could do that and I am working towards the day I can. Instead in order to get going I am working with an Irish 3rd party distillery to create a mash bill to my own specification. I will be there to cut the Heart from the Heads & Tails and I will sign off every batch that makes its way into our barrels. These are barrels that I travelled to Louisville, Nashville, Portugal, France and a few other places to personally pick out. (I’m only being coy about who our distiller is as we are finalising contracts just now, I’ll share the whole process with you as and when.) After filling and having a few days to rest, I’m having those barrels delivered directly to our specially designed Rackhouse on our family farm on the Wild Atlantic Way where the whiskey inside them will age for as long as is necessary in our little microclimate by the ocean. That is how we will be making whiskey for quite few years until we get to the next level of building a distillery.
Right now we are ‘Whiskey Makers’ we can’t call ourselves anything else really, we don’t distill whiskey ourselves on-site and we won’t be doing for for at least 6 or 7 years maybe more depending on how things go. In that regard we are exactly the same as almost every other new whiskey company in Ireland. Its its not made by Jose Cuervo or Pernod Ricard, this is the model used by everyone else on the market. The one exception really are the guys down in Dingle who just released their first whiskey distilled and aged right there just as they said they would & Fair Play.
Now, I am all for the purity of the Grain to Glass ethos believe me I am and as I said above I want to get us there within the next decade. However, I feel NO shame in our current model. This was the whiskey making model used by our namesake J.J. Corry in the 1890’s to early 1900’s so we are in effect just resurrecting his work. Let me remind you of a few other famous whiskey makers from the past and present who did or are doing this:
- Teeling Whiskey Co.
- Walsh Whiskey
- Wild Geese
These guys were once upstarts just like us and all of the modern guys have gone on to build their own distilleries some of which have gone into production.The model is a common one in Scotch with Compass Box, Masters of Malt and a number of other companies making award winning whiskies without distilleries. I appreciate we don’t have as much whiskey on the open market here in Ireland but its getting better, trust me & watch this space on that….
I’m putting this out there now for one very simple reason. Transparency is one of our Core Pillars here at Chapel Gate and by laying this down now I can be ultra -clear with everyone as to where we stand. I have nothing to hide, I believe in our model and don’t mind talking about it. Happy New Year and Here’s to a Great 2016 for Irish Whiskey!