Illicit distilling has been a family tradition for many across the Isle of Ireland. For Pádraic Ó Griallais owner & operator of Micil Distillery, this tradition has stretched back 6 successive generations. Since 1848, his family has produced the illicit spirit of Ireland, using traditional, rudimentary methods, often under the cover of darkness to avoid any unwanted attention. In 2016 Pádraic took the next step, establishing the families first ever legal distillery, taking the business into the 21st century.
Named Micil after Pádraic’s great-great-great grandfather, Micil Mac Chearra, who began the family tradition some 170 years ago. Having been tried and tested over the centuries by successive family members before him, the recipe Pádraic uses for Micil Poitín remained the same. The original poitín is composed of 100% malted barley with the addition of bogbean, a botanical local to the region of Connemara. Micil’s Heritage Edition goes one step further introducing peated and malted oats into the mash bill. A grain that was so common once upon a time, now only beginning to see a resurgence in popularity today.
Expanding their spirit portfolio, 2018 saw the release of Micil Irish Gin, bringing the terroir of Connemara into play again. Pádraic, inspired by the surroundings he grew up in, gathered only the finest local botanicals including bog myrtle, hawberry, heather, and of course, Micil favourite, bogbean. Fragrant, floral, but still packing that classic juniper and citrus punch, Micil Irish Gin took Silver in Ireland at the World Gin Awards in 2021, no easy feat considering the 50+ gins that now crowd the category.
With the coronavirus looming back in 2020, many businesses were forced to shut their doors with very little idea of what lay ahead. Despite having just opened 4 years ago, the resilient crew at Micil are not one to wallow. Upon hearing of the imminent lockdown, they immediately swung into action. Pausing production of their hand crafted spirits, they began distilling pure alcohol to be used in antibacterial hand sanitiser. Despite high demand, Micil donated over 1000 bottles to much needed locations around Galway with the remaining supply being sold at close to cost price. The old tails of the medicinal claims of Poitín may in fact possessed some truth!
With a stellar poitín range, a gin, (and a pretty popular hand sanitiser), Micil decided not to rest on their laurels. Having opened the first ever distillery in Galway in over 100 years, Micil marked another milestone by laying the first ever whiskey in Galway since 1911! When reading about Irish whiskey history, Dublin Cork and Belfast dominate the headlines, however it was the port city of Galway that possessed the greatest connections to France, Spain and Portugal. This brought ample supply of wine casks from each region, giving the 20 or so distilleries of Galway an enviable selection of casks to age their whiskey in.
With the minimum age required of any Irish whiskey being 3 years, we have quite a bit to wait before we taste the fruits of their labour. To make matters worse, the production capacity of Micil distillery is probably the lowest in the country. Their single copper pot still is capable of producing just a single 200 litre cask a week.
“Our production methods are painstakingly slow, and we do everything by hand with no automation. Our focus is purely on distilling spirits of exceptional flavour and quality, not on yields or profit margins”Pádraic Ó Griallais
What’s more is the first casks will be filled with 100% percent peated single malt, produced with turf from their own family farm in Connemara. Capacity is expected to increase, and while some businesses have contracted due to the pandemic, Micil is hiring. Their most recent hire is Mark McLaughlin, a leading brand specialist in the whiskey world. They have also listed for global sales manager, so it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing a lot more of Micil long into the future.