Irish Whiskey Pt. 12: What Is The Oldest Distillery In Ireland? // Hinch Distillery
Time to dive into this fascination with being the first or oldest. Can we really determine which Irish whiskey distillery is the oldest?
Listen to the Episode
When it comes to firsts and oldests in whiskey, finding a clear answer is a challenge. This week, I'll take a look at some of the criteria around determining the oldest distillery and we'll see why finding an answer is so tough.
Plus, I'll continue my journey around Northern Ireland with a visit to Hinch Distillery and Alfred Barnard and his mates will visit one of the challengers for the title oldest distillery in Ireland.
It’s a moment that will live as one of the greatest firsts in the history of humanity. Yet even with the intensity of the moment, its historic implications, and its occurrence within an agency known for precision - amazingly, there is a little unsettled controversy surrounding this unforgettable first.
The date was July 20, 1969 and the mission was the landing of a lunar module on the surface of the moon.
We all know that Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong was the first to set foot on the moon, but it appears he himself may not have known about the famous steps he was about to take.
You see, in previous NASA missions, it had become standard practice for junior crewmen to take lead in an expedition, while the experienced commander was left back on the ship in case of emergency. And in the case of Apollo 11, NASA’s official record points to Buzz Aldrin as being the man meant to take the first steps on the moon.
So, how was it that Neil Armstrong received the honor?
Well, it depends on who you ask. NASA suggests they changed to Armstrong after realizing Aldrin’s position in the lunar module would cause him to have to climb over Armstrong to get out the door - and when they ran simulations, it led to concerns over damaging the module. But Chris Kraft, a flight director at mission control suggested Armstrong was chosen for his quiet manner and ability to deal with celebrity.
Aldrin had another theory, he felt Armstrong was chosen for the symbolism associated with having the commander taking charge and being the first.
In the end, it was an inspired choice. The soft spoken Neil Armstrong would wow the world wide audience when he uttered the famous words “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” An inspired phrase that had only come to him moments before he uttered it. He would return a hero and would earn the appreciation and adoration of people throughout the world.
But there was another reason he was the perfect choice. In a world obsessed with firsts and origin stories, he is solidified as not only the first man to set foot on the moon, he was the first man to set a spacecraft on the moon. And so, while there is a little disagreement as to how he was empowered to take those famous steps, there isn’t any doubt as to who was the first to conquer the surface of the moon.
As for whiskey, well, the answer isn’t quite so cut and dried. Who was the first to distill? Who made the first whiskey? Even trying to figure out which distillery was first, is no simple task.
When it comes to Irish whiskey, two distilleries have laid claim to being the oldest - Bushmills and Kilbeggan.
For years Bushmills has pointed to the famed license or patent that was granted to Sir Thomas Phillipps in 1608. But there are several problems with this claim. Not only did the license expire long before the Bushmills Distillery was built, it also covered thousands of acres of which the modern Bushmills Distillery would have only been a small fraction. And Bushmills itself wasn’t licensed until 1784. Even Bushmills didn’t claim the 1608 date until the 20th century.
So what about Kilbeggan? Well, if we are looking for distillery licenses as proof, theirs goes back to the old Brusna Distillery that was licensed in 1757. This not only predates Bushmills, but it also predates what is claimed to be Scotland’s oldest working distillery Glenturret.
With that knowledge, and the knowledge that the original 1608 license in Ulster had nothing to do with the Bushmills brand, the question seems to be settled. And so Kilbeggan isn’t only referred to as the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland, but also the oldest in the world.
But is that really true? Is Kilbeggan the Neil Armstrong of licensed distilleries - being the definitive first among all Irish whiskey distilleries - or shall I play Yoda and say “no, there is another.”
Find out, after we check in with Alfred Barnard and his mates as they head to the 1886 version of the famous Brusna Distillery in Kilbeggan.
EARLY the next day we left our little boycotted hotel at Tullamore, and proceeded to Kilbeggan, a drive of some eight miles. Our “turn out” would have afforded much amusement to some of our English friends, could they have seen us riding to our avocations that morning. The car, which looked like a large wine-case on wheels, was springless and sadly in need of a coat of paint; the horse was but a framework for a new edition, his tail being but a relic of the past, consisting of the stump and about half a dozen long hairs. Upon our remarking on the condition of the poor creature’s caudal appendage, our jarvey exclaimed, “Shure yer honour, its a bit out of repair now, but its been a foine tail in its day.”
On nearing the bridge over the canal we came upon a crowd of persons evidently enjoying themselves, and remembering our experiences of the previous day, we bade our driver stop for a few minutes that we might witness the fun. To the music of a fiddle and a banjo, two Irish lads, regular “broths of boys,” were dancing and shouting, and at times their movements were so infectious that some of the crowd joined in with them. An Irishman is always ready to fall into a jig, and the sound of music will generally set him off. Even our steed commenced prancing, and the six hairs in his tail were violently agitated, and kept swishing after the flies that, perhaps, were joining in the dance on his lean flanks.
After leaving Tullamore the road lay through a pastoral country, and finely-wooded estates. Within three miles of Kilbeggan we came to Durrow Abbey, the seat of the Earl of Norbury, whose ancestor was the notorious hanging Irish judge of the same name. The late Earl was murdered in the Park, in the open day, by a yet undiscovered assassin, and since then the noble mansion has scarcely ever been inhabited by the family. We drove through the thickly-wooded demesne, and soon came to the picturesque ruins of the Abbey, founded by St. Columb in 546, and the Church of Durrow, both of which adjoin the grounds of the mansion. They are situated in a most secluded spot, and the graveyard attached contains many ancient monuments, and a curiously sculptured cross, with scriptural devices thereon, which is supposed to have been brought from Iona by St. Columb, and is of a different kind of stone to any found in the neighbourhood. Near the church is a holy well dedicated to that saint. In 1186 Hugh de Lacey, while superintending the erection of a castle on the ruins of the Abbey, was killed by one of the labourers, a pious Catholic, who, indignant at the profanation of the sacred spot, struck off his master’s head while he was stooping down to give directions.
A few miles further on we came to Kilbeggan. The town is a famous and historic old place, situated about 45 miles from Dublin, on the coach road between that city and Galway. At the end of its main street, overlooking the Brusna Distillery, we came to the church, which stands in a picturesque graveyard crowded with curious old tombs. This ancient edifice occupies the site of a monastery founded by St. Brecan, the contemporary of St. Columb, in the year 600; which, falling into decay, was rebuilt in the eleventh century by the family of Dalton, who dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin, and placed therein a band of Cistercian monks. After its dissolution, the monastery and its possessions were granted to the Lambart family, when a part of the monastery was enlarged, and a square tower added to it, and the building transformed into a parish church. As we descended the hill to the Distillery, our driver pointed out the place where, during the disturbances of ’98, a party of the insurgents were defeated, after an obstinate resistance, by Colonel Blake, at the head of his Northumberland Militia; some of the rebels were hung in the town, and the others sent away as prisoners.
Drving along, an extensive view presented itself: for several miles the valley of the Brosna displayed a very ocean of billowy hills, softly folded one upon another, with here and there plantations, pasture lands, and cultivated fields, through which the river flowed, looking like a silver ribbon - the whole a typical picture of the Emerald Isle. The Brosna is one of the feeders to the Grand Canal, a branch of which comes up to the town. We crossed this river, to reach the Distillery, by an old stone bridge, from the centre of which we obtained a good view of the establishment we had come to visit. In the Distillery grounds the river divides itself into two streams, forming a pretty little island of about an acre in extent, which has been utilized by one of the partners, and added to the grounds attached to his private residence.
A rustic bridge has been thrown across to the island, which is laid out in lawns, flower beds, and shady walks, and has in its centre a handsome stone fountain. Along the valley in olden times many smugglers were wont to locate, who gave a great deal of trouble to the Excise officers. In a secluded nook near the Distillery, formerly lived one “Mooney,” who carried on his nefarious practices under the very nose of the revenue people. On one occasion a raid was about to be made upon him; Mooney, seeing in the distance the officers coming, called out to his wife to hide the three kegs of whisky in the garret. The ready-witted woman placed them in the middle of the floor, and then brought up her feather bed, which she ripped open, and completely covered the kegs. After searching all the rest of the house, the captain of the party entered the garret, and seeing nothing but a huge heap of feathers, called to his men that there was nothing in the d—d old cockloft but feathers, and it was useless to spoil their clothes by removing them.
The Brusna Distillery is said to be the oldest in Ireland, having been founded in the year 1750. It covers nearly five acres of ground, and the adjoining lands extending for half-a-mile on the river side, are also owned by John Edward and James H. Locke. Both these young men are practical distillers, and it is owing to their enterprise that the business has increased and the output been more than doubled during the last ten years. To do this they have, from time to time, made considerable additions to the old work - adding new machinery and modern appliances, still retaining, where practicable, the ancient ones, so as not to interfere with their old-fashioned Pot Stills, Mashing Vessels, and method of drying malt. The establishment, which is entirely enclosed, has a frontage to the main road of 150 feet, and entered by an archway, the clerks’ and Excise offices being built therein. It stands on the banks of the river from which it derives its name, and the water for both driving and mashing comes from that stream. There is such an abundant and continuous supply, that at the time of our visit Messrs. Locke & Co. were arranging to use it for an electric light power in the premises. Having plenty of time, we first rambled through the old place with the partners, and afterwards commenced our duties by inspecting the Maltings, which are all built opposite the Distillery proper. They are light and well-ventilated buildings of five floors, capable of holding 10,000 barrels of corn. When we were there the yard at the back was crowded with farmers’ carts, laden with barley put up in home-made flax sacks of a primitive shape and nearly 6 feet in length. After inspection by the corn-buyer, the barley is hoisted to the different floors and there spread out to a depth of 3 feet, from whence, as required, it is made to fall through traps on to the Malting Floors below, each of which possesses a stone Steep. The firm make all their own malt, being of opinion that they can manufacture a finer quality than can be purchased.
We next ascended a staircase, and found ourselves on a level with the Kiln floors, both laid with wire cloth and heated by open furnaces. On leaving the Kilns, we entered the Dry Malt Stores, consisting of a three-storied stone building with slated roof, capable of storing 4,000 barrels. We then proceeded to the Raw Grain Warehouses, which will hold 15,000 barrels of barley, to which is attached a Drying Corn Kiln, floored with Worcester perforated tiles, which seem to be in great favour with the Irish distillers. After having seen all that was of interest on this side of the way, we entered the Mill building, a solid looking structure, containing six pairs of Mill Stones and a powerful set of Malt Rollers. Following our guide, we came to the Grist Room, a lofty chamber, 130 feet long, to which the grist is delivered by elevators. Previous to reaching the Mash House, we inspected the Brewing Tanks, which are each fitted with attemperating coils, and placed at an elevation to command the Mash Tun. In the Brewing House we observed two Mash Tuns, each with a capacity of 12,000 gallons, fitted with a double-action stirring gear; the two Underbacks of timber, which hold 5,000 gallons each, are placed on the paved floor of the house, and were made on the premises. Pursuing our investigations, we next visited the Tun Room, a large apartment, containing eight Washbacks, each holding from 10,000 to 14,000 gallons, also constructed by Messrs. Locke’s workmen. After inspecting the Coolers, we crossed over to the Still House, a venerable building, whose outward appearance is altogether different from those we have recently visited. The first object which arrested our attention was the Wash Charger, a cast-iorn vessel, placed on a gallery, holding 17,000 gallons; next the four old Pot Stills (by Miller & Co., Dublin), comprising a Wash Still, holding 10,320 gallons and 8,436 gallons; a Spirit Still, 6,170 gallons, and another 6,080 gallons. In these Stills are the revolving chains; we looked inside one that had served them for years, which was bright as a copper kettle. We have had frequent occasion to remark in the course of our lengthened that certain fads or customs were in use at some of the Distilleries, perhaps not very important in themselves, yet they give a character to the Whisky. Here, for instance, the same method of distillation is adopted that was used by the founders of the Distillery.
Proceeding up a few steps, we came to the Can-pit Room, situated at the rear of the Still House, which contains, besides the Safe, a Low-wines and Feints Charger, also a Feint and Spirit Receiver, holding respectively 8,000 and 4,000 gallons. Adjacent is the Spirit Store, containing the usual Spirit Vat and Casking apparatus; also a duty-paid Spirit Store, which usually contains from 25 to 30 puncheons of spirits of various ages to suit the requirements of local customers.
Passing through the quadrangle, we reached the two large Bonded Stores, excellent buildings, well ventilated, and which contained at the time of our visit over 2,000 casks of Whisky. A short distance from these Warehouses there is a large detached building, six stories high, which, until recently, was used for making the “patent oatmeal,” but the increasing demand for their “make” led Messrs. Locke & Co. to abandon that business, and it is now used for Corn Stores.
Returning by another way, we passed the Spent Wash Tanks, one of them, a metal vessel, holding 14,000 gallons, erected by Ross and Walpole, of Dublin; also two new Worm Tubs, by Strong and Sons, of Dublin; one of them is on a high stone archway, the other covers the roof of the Still House. Here also we saw the Boiler House, containing a steam boiler, 32 feet long by 8 feet diameter, a Carpenters’ Shop, Smithy, and Cask Shed. In the yard there is stabling for ten horses, a Cart Shed, and several cattle byres.
Seventy men are employed on the premises, the aged and infirm always being pensioned off or assisted. The make is “Old Pot Still,” and principally sold in Dublin, England, and the Colonies. It is both a self and a blending Whisky, and the annual output (1885-1886) was 157,200 gallons. The plant is, however, capable of making over 200,000 gallons.
Messrs. Reidy and Byrne are the chief Excise officers.
It’s interesting to note that Alfred Barnard gives the date of 1750, as the inception date of the distillery. The modern distillery points to the license of 1757, which just goes to show, word of mouth always needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
So is Kilbeggan the oldest distillery in Ireland and the world as some have claimed?
Honestly, I don’t think anyone can say it definitively. As you heard last week, 1757 wasn’t the beginning of the licensing process of distilleries in Ireland - in fact, that 1608 date proves it.
Yet, we’ve discounted Bushmills because the site was not licensed specifically to just the specific footprint the future distillery resides on.
And there is another problem with claiming first. No single distillery in the world has remained in continuous operation for over 250 years. Interruptions like uprisings, world wars, whiskey depressions, and Prohibitions have caused most historic distilleries to halt operations for a time, mothball, or close completely.
And then there is the issue with ownership. Can you name a whiskey distillery that has had the same ownership for over 100 years, let alone 200 years? This opens up the can of worms, as distilleries that were shut down, disappeared for generations, and then were suddenly revived by entrepreneurs, corporations, or ancestors to the founders could also lay claim to being the oldest, even though they aren’t directly connected to the founding business entity.
Take the case of Diageo’s Roe and Co. Their marketing harkens back to Peter Roe’s Thomas Street Distillery that resided in the same area as the current distillery. Now, to this date, I’ve not heard them calling themselves a competitor for the oldest title, but just like Kilbeggan 1757 is said to be the licensing date of the distillery.
My guess is that, the reason they don’t get into this famous firsts battle is because the distillery name is different, and there are no ties to the original family or company. Well, then how is Kilbeggan in the running. Its original footprint was apparently across the street from where it is now located, it was closed in the 1950s with no thought it would ever reopen, and it was an unrelated John Teeling who revived it. The current Roe & Co and Kilbeggan both stand within feet of their original footprints - and neither carries its original name - in fact, many still call Kilbeggan the Locke Distillery, and originally it was called the Brusna Distillery. Does it somehow trump Roe & Co’s history because it was only gone for a decade or two instead of a century? Does someone have a copy of the original 1757 distillery license agreement for Kilbeggan and has it remained in force to this day without a break?
These are fun debates, but honestly, I think marketing departments, as much as it would go against their mission of promotion, should leave the words like “oldest” or “first” out of their vernacular. To claim it, you need too many caveats - are you the oldest continuously running, the oldest in the same location, the oldest one that mothballed the least, and so on. And this far from an Irish whiskey issue - in the U.S., Buffalo Trace claims to be the oldest continuously operating distillery in America. Really? What about Prohibition?
Well, apparently on their website they claim that “during Prohibition the distillery was even permitted to remain operational, to make whiskey for ‘medicinal purposes’, By make, I can only assume they mean pour it from a barrel into a bottle because distilling was 100% shut down during Prohibition. Even when the stores of medicinal whiskey drew dangerously low, congress was slow to act in allowing a distiller’s holiday.
And what about the family I just talked to on the Whiskey Lore The Interviews podcast - the Laird’s. Their distillery was old enough that George Washington sought out their recipe for Apple Brandy during the American Revolution, and years before Hancock and Lee, the legends who are said to have started distilling on the footprint of the Buffalo Trace, ever even thought about heading to Kentucky. And we haven’t even considered licensing as part of this example.
Even Glenturrent had to defend its statement against Littlemill, which is no longer operational, and Strathisla which now suggests it is the oldest in the Highlands. And what happens if a member of the Forbes family decides to bring back the old Ferintosh Distillery near Inverness, with roots back before the Glorious Revolution?
It is my assertion that claiming “oldest” in the world of distilling is an untenable position. Too many records have been lost and there are too many variables from founding until now that can create doubt. Yet honestly, is a visit to Bushmills or Kilbeggan or even Roe and Co any less grand because it doesn’t hold the title first or oldest?
In fact, would we be better off if Neal Armstrong stepped foot on the moon and we just stopped trying because we considered that the greatest moment in history. I mean, someone already attained the status of first, anything else would just be pedestrian and unworthy - right?
Think about it. What makes these places special is their continued exploration of the spirit, the desire to try something different, the ability to give us insights into different time periods in whisky’s history, and a chance to hear the unique stories that make each distillery so fascinating.
I think it's time we quit this nonsense about trying to find the first and oldest, and instead celebrate the wonderful diversity of distilleries, their spirits, and histories. Embrace them for what they are. I’m not saying we should stop looking deeper into distilleries' histories - what I’m saying is, stop letting people tell you that a trip to Buffalo Trace or Kilbeggan is more beneficial than a trip to Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, or Bushmills simply because of the year someone wants to ascribe to them.
I’ve been to all of them and I can tell you, each one is special in its own way. And what will make them even more special, is when they no longer have to find some means of braggadocio to prove themselves as more historic. I enjoyed my trip to Roe and Co, just like I enjoyed my trip to Bushmills, but for different reasons - and the reason I could do that is simply because I left the marketing measuring sticks where they belong, out of my brain.
Wow, so much history over these last two weeks, you may have forgotten about my own historic journey around Ireland.
After visiting my 8th distillery, Copeland on the Ard Peninsula, I made my way back to my temporary home base just east of Belfast.
It was day two at my AirBnB and I had picked this spot because it gave easy access to the local bus system and wouldn’t force me to have to navigate streets in downtown Belfast in a car.
In fact, I had pretty much engineered my whole trip to avoid driving in big towns. Funny though, as the trip went on, I found I had been a little overly cautious and that left side driving through towns wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined - except for those situations where you hit a two lane road where the two lanes were going in the same direction. In the US, you can tell a road is one way by a couple of visual cues - all the cars parked on either side are facing the same direction, and the dashes in the middle of the road are white - whereas yellow dashes mean it is two way. Here, the dashes were always white. And cars park in any direction they want on either side of the road. It was forcing me to look at signs or find arrows on the road - I’m sure I was just missing something obvious, but I tended to stay left, which sometimes left me stuck behind a parked car that was stuck out in the road.
The first night, I had a long talk with Michael, the owner of townhouse B&B I was staying in, He was amazed to see how many mini-bottles of whiskey I was hauling in the house. We shared a little of that Foxes Bow whiskey I’d received from Tony at Great Northern. He said there would be a pro golfer staying in the room next to me that night. I never saw the man, I pretty much worked on my notes in the evening until it got dark around 10 PM and then dozed off. I’m not sure if it was the barking of the bird outside my window or my lack of adjustment to the time zone difference, but I was wide awake by 4:30 AM. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a bathroom to myself, so I decided to get the jump on everyone else and hopped in the shower by 6 AM.
My first distillery tour of the day was set for Hinch Distillery just south of town, but the appointment was at 1 PM. My original intention was to go into Belfast on the Glide, their handy trolley system, but soon found myself lost in writing notes and before I knew it, it was almost 9 AM.
I walked down to the local restaurant and ordered my full Irish breakfast. The coffee came first and was marvelous. A few slices of toast with some jams and butters in packets arrived next. Once my meal arrived, I tried to savor it rather than scarf it down - as was my nature. The trick, I’d learned long ago, was to always cut your meat with your right hand. This forced you to take the time to put your fork down and switch hands, then switch back. I tried to work on being present with my food and take in all the flavors and smells. It was at that moment that I thought - you’re in Northern Ireland.
Maybe it seems strange to come to that realization some 3 days into my time in the country, but for all the accents, the left side driving, and beautiful lush green colors that surrounded me - I felt so at home, it wasn’t computing in my brain that I was across the sea. Honestly, I don’t know if I could compliment a civilization more than that. I felt like I was very welcomed here and so much of it reminded me of where I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina. And it made sense - that area was teeming with the descendants of the Ulster Scots and here I was - actually in Ulster.
By the time I had finished my breakfast and coffee, and I realized it was after 10 AM and I hadn’t gotten the bill yet. This is when I started to realize, on the Emerald Isle, you have to ask for your bill, otherwise you may be waiting a very long time.
The drive out to Hinch Distillery was simple - almost a straight shot, if a few roundabouts, south of my AirBnB. Upon arrival, I could sense that this distillery was a bit more spit and polish, like Tullamore and Slane, but without the legacy. Hinch is a new brand that is being built by Dr. Terry Cross who, rather than taking over a family legacy brand is trying to build one for his kids. Founder of Delta Print & Packaging, a Belfast area packaging business, he sold the business after 35 years and started the distillery project soon after. But this wouldn’t be his first time working in the drinks industry - some 20 plus years ago he invested in Château de La Ligne in Bordeaux, France and helped bring the vineyard back from the brink.
The distillery was fresh and well manicured with whiskey barrels stacked up at the entrance to make sure there were no illusions as to what resource was being created there. I pulled into one of the ample number of parking spots and made my way inside. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had reached out to a brand ambassador Jamie, who had wanted to show me around, but he was likely going through some jet lag, having just arrived from Canada and preparing for another out of town excursion. So rather than having a behind the scenes guide, I went on the standard tour.
But any illusions that I had that I might be getting a less informative tour were put to bed immediately. Our guide was extremely well versed in the art of distillation, from malting the barley through milling, mashing, lautering, fermentation, to the process of triple distillation. And having met with distillers and owners where I would be more in a discussion. It was actually a nice chance of pace to just be able to sit back and enjoy the ride. I tossed my questions in where I needed, but she returned my volly’s with the greatest of ease.
Probably the only disappointment was that we didn’t get to go into a warehouse. But, as strange as it sounds, the large boardroom we went into instead had enough amenities to overcome that disappointment. We had two aromatic dispensers in front of us. When we pressed the button on #1 that familiar smell of angels share came out of the dispenser in a ghostly haze. The second canister smelled like a damp cabin with a peat fire. Meanwhile, we were surrounded by an array of lighted bottles set into the walls with different shades of straw, amber, and reddish bronze. Sections were labeled with the type of wood container, be it virgin oak, ex-bourbon first fill, second fill, etc, and the same for the sherry barrels and so on. An impressive visual display.
I asked about where they got their virgin oak casks and the discussion turned to the lack of cooperages in Ireland. The ex-bourbon originally came from Makers Mark. She said they actually had made an agreement with Makers Mark directly and partially because of the family tie of the Samuels family that runs it to the Ard Peninsula to the east - the family leaving these shores for America in the 1600s according to her.
Then one of the other guests asked if they used caramel coloring or chill-filltered. A smile came across my face. People are really starting to pay attention to the quality of their whiskies. Yes, they are chill-filtered, she said, because they are under 46% ABV, which means the whiskey would be prone to getting cloudy if it wasn’t filtered. As for color, she said it was used in some markets - which didn’t really clear things up too much.
Then we walked into what looked like a nice smoking room with a bar - however, I’m sure there is no smoking allowed in there - it definitely didn’t smell of smoke. But it was a nice atmosphere to taste in. We sat on chairs and couches in a semi-circle and our whiskey was brought out to us on wooden staves. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and our guide spent a lot of time asking us what we were tasting and which whiskeys we enjoyed.
When the peated whiskey came up for tasting, one smart guy said “hey, I was wondering, isn’t peat just used to cover up a multitude of sins?” Oh man did I want to roll my eyes. Rookie!
But I get why he asked that question. At home, I sometimes will take fish that isn’t quite as tasty as I’d like and I douse it with blackened seasoning. If I got a jar of cheap spaghetti sauce, I would sometimes through in some picante sauce to make it hot so I couldn’t taste it. But honestly, if I were doing the this tour and the question came up, I might have to fight off a smart aleck answer - being that I am a peat fan. But our guide was right on it, explaining that peat was the predominant heat source in Ireland until the Industrial Revolution, when coal became easier to access. After that, peat was mostly left to more isolated areas where cheap coal wasn’t delivered. That is why the west coast of Scotland and Ireland still hold on to peated whiskey traditions.
As the tour wrapped up, Jamie arrived and the two of us went to the Brasserie to have a coffee and catch up on things that I might have missed from the tour. There wasn’t much. And that is the sign of a really great tour guide.
I’m Drew Hannush and this is Whiskey Lore.
Whiskey Lore is a production of Travel Fuels Life LLC
Production, stories, and research by Drew Hannush
And if you’re enjoying hearing about all the new distilleries in Ireland and Northern Ireland this season, and you’d like to draw up your own dream Irish whiskey distillery tour - watch out for my new book Whiskey Lore’s Travel Guide To Experiencing Irish Whiskey coming out November 22nd. And if you want a chance to be on my launch team for the book and read it before everyone else, plus get a free copy of the audiobook - make sure to sign up for my newsletter at Whiskey-Lore.com/signup. The book is being formatted as we speak and I’ll have a newsletter update this Thursday. I’d love to have you on board.
Thanks for listening! I’m your host Drew Hannush and until next time, cheers and slainte mhath!
For show notes, transcripts, and links to books and social media, head to whiskey-lore.com.