Things are starting to come together here on our little farm on the Wild Atlantic Way. We put our first batch of Irish Whiskey Spirit in cask on April 25th. CLICK HERE to see a 90 second video of the day. If I knew how to deploy emoji’s here I would…. I personally filled the first cask and banged in the bung on it too…I’m happy to share with you Dear Readers, that every strike of the mallet was worth a month in therapy or 15 minutes of mindfulness. Getting to this point has been a long and winding road and I have been really focused on “Getting whiskey into cask”. Well now I’ve done it and my focus shifts to “Getting Casks to Clare.” More on that later.
As I said in this post back in January we are very keen on being 100% transparent about our whiskey making method. We are resurrecting the old 18th century whiskey bonding methodology and trying to be as true to it as we can. Our namesake J.J. CORRY made his whiskey just like this in the 1890’s. Just like J.J. we are working with a 3rd party distillery, The GND up in Dundalk, to create and distil whiskey spirit to our particular spec. This whiskey spirit is being filled into casks I have personally sourced and know the exact provenance of, down to what brand was in them prior and for how long. There are basically two places in Ireland who 3rd party distil in small batches, The GND and West Cork. I’m not ruling out working with West Cork in the future for some other projects we have in mind, but I’m really happy with GND. The guys have converted an old Diageo Beer plant from the 1800’s into a distillery. There are still lots of Diageo signs everywhere, which made me think I may never escape my old employer….
The GND have three potstills for Malt production and a continuous column still for grain whiskey production. The pots are really interesting because they are converted copper kettles used in beer making. It’s all a bit steampunk really and the best part of it is that these stills will produce some utterly different whiskey spirit, simply because they are non-traditional. They are not your usual Forsyth or CARLS that everyone is commissioning. Allan Anderson, the world’s nicest man, is the master distiller. Allan spent a long time at Loch Lomand distillery and made his way to Ireland by working with Lord Henry Mount Charles on the Slane project before Brown Forman scooped it up. Now he oversees everything in Dundalk and really is a true craftsman/gentleman, the kind of guy you’d want to share a dram with.
The added benefit of working with The GND is that I get to spend quality time with one of the greats in the Irish Whiskey World, John Teeling and also his vertiginous right hand man who I’ll just label JF. Between them, these guys effectively resurrected the Irish Whiskey category. They broke the monopoly held by IDL/Diageo and had to fight them off to do it. They sold Cooley off to Beam for an eye watering sum and an unheard of multiple in 2012 and rather than sailing off into the sunset, they set up The GND. Both gentlemen are battle worn and all the better for it. This does mean however that in any negotiation with them you need to ensure there are no chinks in your Lady Armour.
Our next big milestone will be getting our barrels to Clare and placing them in our purpose built Rackhouse so that they can soak up all that lovely sea air and rest for a few years. I just need to jump through about 900 bureaucratic hoops first before I’m allowed to put them in there.. Where did I put that mallet I need to bash something.