Grand Designs


Nothing Like A Digger On Site to Get the Heart Racing

I have to be honest, I love building stuff. I did a big house renovation project a few years ago and really enjoyed the whole process, except for the part were my builder went bust and went to Las Vegas with much of the budget halfway through, true story ….That sucked. However the end result was great and it feels really special to walk around a building that you are intimately familiar with. Every fitting and fixture has your own stamp on it and every corner holds a memory.  It was then with great joy that I watched a digger make its way up our little country lane this week to begin work on our first Whiskey Rackhouse.

In essence we are building a shed, however a lot of thought has gone into this particular ‘shed.’ The science of the Barrel House is getting increasingly more attention in whiskey circles and its something I follow closely. I am firmly in the camp that puts a lot of weight on the influence of micro environments on maturation and the resulting flavours. I am not the only one to do this. The guys over at Buffalo Trace with their WAREHOUSE X  are leading the charge on this thinking and throwing money and technology at it too. I was also lucky enough to visit Copper & Kings in Louisville who use sonic waves in their Rackhouse, the belief being this encourages extraction of flavour by causing the liquid to vibrate at a sonic level and therefore interact with the barrel more . They do this by blasting music at insane decibel levels in the Rackhouse. Their sound system has something like 10 massive Sub-woofers dotted around its a serious investment and one they believe in firmly.

You will notice that my terminology is  a little different to that usually used around Irish Whiskey. I use the term Rackhouse,  because I am trying to create something different here that breaks away from the current norms in Irish Whiskey maturation. Whiskey making in Ireland has essentially been a monopoly for a generation or two, there is today no variety in or real emphasis placed on maturation by Pernod Ricard or Jose Cuervo. When bonding died out in Ireland, any variety in maturation died with it. Large corporations consolidated maturation facilities and scaled the process up to industrial levels. Even those with a similar business model to mine, allow their third party new fill to age in Airplane hangar warehouses, because its more economical and easier to do. After all, who in their right mind would bother building their own maturation facility ??……Sky high Palletisation and barrels ageing upended is the norm here in Ireland simply because producers want to maximise warehouse space. `


A Standard Irish Whiskey Warehouse This is a Jameson Facility

This is not the case in other whiskey making regions and in designing our ‘shed’ I’ve taken influence from Scotland, Kentucky, France and the history of Irish Whiskey. Our namesake whiskey bonder J.J. Corry aged his whiskey in a shed on his farm just like we plan to do. We are adding a few modern twists to our design though, which should result in something quite unique and good looking…..I simply REFUSE to create something industrial, that is not within our ethos at all.

The first Rackhouse is here on the farm, which is as the crow files less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean. The air here is so briney that we have to wash salt stains off the windows after a storm. Seagulls are one of our local birds….Our little microclimate alone should have an intriguing effect on the sleeping whiskey, before the isolated Rackhouse environment takes effect but only time will tell.

It feels great to have started and I cannot tell you how great it is to type this as I listen to a digger working away like mad outside the door. We are another step closer to making this happen and it feels really good. Oh, for those of you wondering about the Rackhouse cats (our most popular blog post yet)  we have been inundated with lots of applications..I’m choosing a local animal charity to work with and will have an update on that soon.

Help Wanted..Apply Within.


Thanks to TheWhiskeyLady.Net for the photo, check out her Blog its great. 

It seems I always start these posts with “Its busy here etc. etc.” and yes its busy here, I’m going to stop saying that. I’ve been in Asia meeting with some key contacts about potential investment, distribution and collaboration. The Asian market is a really interesting one for Whiskey, its dominated by scotch and the only Irish Whiskey you’ll find here as standard is Jameson, even then you have to search. I’ll be doing a post about that later in the month. While I was boarding the plane I got a call from the Irish Times to say we’d won a place to pitch for their Start-Up Academy program. I expected to be back in time to do the pitch but ended up having to do it via Skype, which was not great. We’d been chosen from about 600 applicants with 19 others to pitch and I was disappointed not to be able to be there in person we didn’t get through to the final 10, but onward and upward. Anyway, while I was preparing for that a lovely piece about us was published in the Irish Independent, which is the biggest daily newspaper in Ireland, so that was cool. You can see it here.

With all that going on I’m trying now to tighten up a multitude of contracts and paperwork and we are heading into Rackhouse construction proper next week. I realised that it is time for our first hire. We are going to be hiring for a position that is not very well known outside of the whiskey industry but absolutely essential in the success of any whiskey company. It’s a position that has had a few famous employees over time and one usually kept for life, unless that is the employee wanders off…We are hiring our first Rackhouse Cat. Wea re only looking for the best and the model for this role is Towser the Cat. Towser resided at the Glenturret distillery, she worked there for 24 years and holds the position of the World’s Best Mouser. She died in 1987 but her record lives on….

Cats in whiskey Rackhouses or distilleries have been around for as long as whiskey has been made. Distilleries need to store large amounts of grain to make whiskey, and Rackhouses are full of delicious barrels infused with sugary liquid perfect for rodents to gnaw on or make a home in.

Even today the best defence against unwanted four legged visitors is a furry security guard. So as we begin building the Rackhouse, I’ve decided we are going to rescue some unwanted kittens and put them through an intensive training period of cuddling and socialisation. I’m having a little space designed in the Rackhouse especially for the cats to ensure they feel at home and to also to ensure they can patrol and deter any potential invaders.

Remember our Rackhouse is not on an industrial estate, with environmental controls and surrounded by concrete.  It is effectively in the middle of a field on a farm. I can be really on it in terms of technically repelling mice and whatnot, but it’s a farm at the end of the day. There will naturally be field mice running around and looking for shelter during the winter months and birds looking for a place to nest. Our first hires will by their presence alone stop that from happening and I’d rather not use poison or anything like that. Prevent rather than cure would be my motto on mice and birds.

So, I’m looking for 3 or four kittens or young cats. The employment package includes, 3 square meals a day, a comfy place to sleep, cuddles when desired and of course full healthcare, including neutering and spaying….Applications from the homeless and helpless particularly sought. If you know of any cat that might be suitable for this position please email me directly at and YES I am 100% Serious, we need some cats…..