I spent the day in the car yesterday driving along one of Ireland’s worst mainline roads; the N24. A two lane windy road that at one terrifying point snakes directly through the centre of Medieval Tipperary town. I am a TERRIBLE driver, specifically because I really only started driving again about two years ago. I’ve always lived in cities and have never had the need to get behind the wheel. Also my car cost 1000 euros cash and is a total piece of shite has they say here, my thinking was I just need a vehicle that goes from A to B and God Bless the old rustbucket it has taken me all over Ireland with no problems so far. I’m not into cars at all I don’t get it, I paid more for J.J. my horse. Yes I named my horse after J.J. Corry because I am kind of sad like that….
My destination was Clonmel, a midsize Irish town nestled at the base of the spectacular Comeragh mountains. Clonmel quite accidentally has become the centre of the Irish craft drinks industry when it comes to labelling and bottling.I usually bring the dog with me on these trips but on this occasion left her at home as I was going to a bottling plant and a labelling factory two fairly sterile environments.
I did a tour of the bottling plant which is a great set up lots of different lines with various capabilities. They’ve just purchased a Chill Filtration system (which I won’t be using) for a large contract they just got in.The contract was running on the main bottling line which does about 6000 bottles per hour. Its a new Irish Whiskey by Multinational Brown Forman who also make Jack Daniels and it rhymes with ‘Pain’ Castle. Their first bottling run is going to take TWO WEEKS on the main bottling line.
My first run if it was on the same line will take NINETY MINUTES.
I watched the bottles whizzing by and found myself asking that question I have asked myself often, “What the Hell Am I Doing? ” In a million years I can’t compete with the might of distribution and the budgets of the multinationals in the game. My model is so utterly different, I cannot guarantee consistency in the whiskey that I release. I cannot be a Jameson or a Bushmills because my supply of whiskey is so limited. Once my casks classified as ‘Peachy’ run out that is it they are gone. That ninety minute batch run will produce a very different whiskey to the next ninety minute batch run and you know what? I realised on that bottling plant floor that maybe that is Okay.
I’m quite sure that J.J. Corry did not have consistency with his ‘Special Malt.’ I even went to his grave at the weekend with our mock-up bottle to kind of run it by him. I had a word and said a prayer and I didint get any bad vibes. I feel like if J.J. could do what he did in the 1890’s surely I can manage that now. His spirit products which also included Rum and Dandelion Wine were created for a very specific audience and I think mine are too…I just have to find THAT audience, whiskey drinkers who seek out the small and the unique the 90 Minute run as opposed to the 2 week run…I guess THAT is what the Hell I am doing here….