As you should know by now, the distilling landscape of Ireland is going through a bit of a change. Where once only 3 distilleries produced all of Ireland’s whiskey, we now have over 40 in operation. Some produce gin, vodka and liqueurs while their whiskey stock is laid down in cask and matured. Some have sourced mature whiskey from other distilleries, releasing expressions under their own label. Whatever their strategy to enter the market, they have much ground to cover before they become household names. So let us introduce you to some of the fledgling projects sowing their seeds.
The Garden of Ireland
Nestled deep in the Wicklow Mountains, an hour south of Dublin, lies probably the most scenic distillery in all of Ireland: the Powerscourt Demesne. Complete with a 5 star hotel, multiple golf courses, sculpted gardens, lakes, rivers and waterfalls the area has served tourists and city dwellers looking to get out of the big smoke for centuries. At its heart lies a 68 room palladian mansion, converted in the 18th century from a 13th century castle. Now, from 2018, the demesne can add a distillery to its list of attractions.
Blending The Old with The New
On arrival at the premises you immediately get the feeling that no expense has been spared. Originally an old mill built out of locally sourced Wicklow granite, the internal structure was completely renovated and the brickwork lovingly restored. You never would have thought the building was over 200 years old. An old bell hangs still in the tower. Centuries earlier it was used to signal the workers in the field to lunch. An old reminder of Ireland’s historic, and often harsh, agrarian lifestyle. It is fitting that Master Distiller Noel Sweeney is sourcing barley from the surrounding fields to produce their spirit. Everything is sourced locally; an old well on the estate sources the distillery with mineral water.
Whiskey & Dine
The visitor centre boasts a gift shop, bar and café. On-site maturation provides for a great backdrop for those holiday shots. If you’re sick of sipping straight whiskey (we couldn’t imagine why) then mix it up with a cocktail or two. Particular attention has been made to food pairing at Powerscourt. Dive into a delicious selection of meat, cheese and honey, all sourced from local producers. Feeling adventurous? Try their Fercullen whiskey infused fruit cake or ice-cream for dessert!
A New Journey Begins…
Noel Sweeney, previously of Cooley, has taken the helm at Powerscourt, and with that, has taken some stock with him. Powerscourts inaugural series, The Fercullen, was distilled by Noel at Cooley. However with the sale of the distillery to Beam Suntory in 2011, the old stock was left in the hands of the previous owners, leaving Noel with an array of casks to choose from. The range currently includes an 8YO blend, a 10YO single grain and a 14YO and 18YO single malt. All aged exclusively in ex-bourbon. Their limited edition range includes an 18YO single malt called Five Elements. Matured in both American oak and European oak with a triple finish of ex-port, red wine and rum casks. They have also released a very interesting single grain that has been finished in Italian ex-amarone wine casks. We’re very excited to see what’s next in store for Powerscourt. However, with distilling commencing in 2019, we have a few more years to wait.