Irish Whiskey Pt. 7: Who Put the 'E' in Irish Whiskey? // Great Northern Distillery

That pesky "e" in whiskey. Where did it come from? Join me for an investigation and as I taste two historic drams at John Teeling's Great Northern Distillery.

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Show Notes

Why is there an "e" in Irish Whiskey? The popular belief is that four Dublin distillers, fed up with "silent spirit" made from column stills added the "e" to the word whiskey to separate their spirit from lesser quality spirits.

Say something enough times and it becomes everyone's truth. But is this really how whiskey got an "e?"

I decided to dig through some 18th and 19th century newspapers to get the answer. I also stopped off to visit John Teeling's Great Northern Distillery and had 2 amazing sips of whiskey - one from the 20th century, the other from the 19th! Join me for the experience.

Listen to the full episode with the player above or find it on your favorite podcast app under "Whiskey Lore Stories." The full transcript is available on the tab above.


The Beginnings of Whiskey

Dateline: April 22. They write from Ballymoney, in the County of Antrim, carrying the agreeable news of the right honorable Alexander Earl of Antrim’s being married last Thursday to miss Pennefather. With Captain Alexander in Highland dress, with several Highland pipers met at the House of Mr. Daniel McNeil, causing a Hogshead of Whisky to be put into a brewing-kettle, then fired in the open street, where they continued drinking a good health to their young lord and counsels. And danc’d round the kettle, and at every bumper huzza’d and cry’d Lord Antrim and his Countess forever, so that the whole night was concluded with ringing of bells, piping, dancing, drinking, broken bones, and other demonstrations of joy. 

The Pennsylvania Gazette of Philadelphia. 3 July 1735

A couple of weeks ago, I started working on a research project for a whiskey brand that was looking to piece together an accurate accounting of the history of their brand. This sent me deep into newspaper archives trying to find any hint of a story that might further my investigation.

It was during this search that I started noticing the varied spellings of the word whiskey in 19th century newspapers that didn’t quite meet my expectations. Now, way back in season two of Whiskey Lore, I had approached the subject of the spelling of whiskey and felt quite certain I had a good handle on how the spelling had evolved over time.

There are a lot of myths built up around the origin of the “e” in whiskey that conclude that Ireland is the origin of the “e” and that the United States, filled with Irish immigrants, followed suit. And while it is true, in modern times, that these two countries predominantly use the “e” it is by no means a rule. Just look at Irish distillers like Waterford or McConnells and American distilleries like Maker’s Mark, and Old Forester - none of which spell whiskey with an “e.” 

For a long time, I have been trying to demonstrate that the “e” hasn’t always dominated these two markets. In Ireland, this theory revolves around the story of Dublin’s Big Four distillers, Jameson, Jameson, Roe, and Powers, who in 1878 put their foot down when it came to column still whiskey (something they referred to as “silent spirit”) and suggested an “e” be added to whiskey to distance good old Dublin whiskey from the rest of the world. 

Now with these old newspaper articles, dating back to a century before the Big Four’s legendary shift, I had a proper chance to see if anyone had snuck the “e” into the spelling any earlier - and if America fell into place soon after.

But before I share my findings, I just have to share some of these 18th century articles with you. They range from funny statements like the “broken bones and other expressions of joy” comment to some outright bizarre articles. 

The oldest was the one I read to open this episode. Straight out of Benjamin Franklin’s highly successful Pennsylvania Gazette, the article is notable for a couple of reasons. It references a hogshead, suggesting the types of barrels being used to store whiskey, whiskey is spelled without an “e” in this highly read colonial newspaper, and it would be the colonists that got to this spelling first, albeit about an Irish incident. It is very possible the word was in earlier newspapers, but this is the oldest I could find in the archives. It is also interesting to note that prior to this, the earliest form of the word was found in a Scottish story from 1715, and there it was spelled whiskie.  

But on to our next article: 

Omagh, Dateline Dec. 12. On Saturday the 11th instant within four miles of this town we had the most extraordinary wedding that has perhaps been celebrated in the memory of man. An Irish girl of 14 years old to a man of 50. The solemnity was after the ancient Irish manner and the cheer such as mentioned in the famous Irish Ballad of Rourk’s Feast. At dinner only, they consumed sixteen sheep, a five year old bullock, a hundred weight of butter, and an undetermined quantity of Whisky, which was the only liquor they had. They drank it out of horns and wooden noggins, like sweet milk, and it did them as little harm. 

The Caladonian Mercury of Edinburgh. 30 December 1736 

Here the Scottish newspaper, only a year later also spells whiskey without the “e.” Next.

Omagh, in Ireland, Dateline January 29. A woman here, aged 68, wife to John Delap, aged 70, was lately delivered of a son; her pregnancy, tis thought, was entirely owing to the quantity of whiskey her husband drank; they have had no child there 20 years past, for in the year 1715, the husband took an oath not to drink any of that liquor for 20 years, but the term being expir’d, he return’d again to the use of it and did not drink of it above a month, when his wife was discovered to be with child. 

The Virginia Gazette of Williamsburg 17 June 1737

Quite an amazing story, a 68 year old woman conceiving a child thanks to her husband falling off the wagon. I gotta ask, did he write this article? And here for the first time in 1737, we see whiskey spelled with an “e.” You might also notice that none of these are localized stories. Whether the paper is in Scotland or the colonies, the whiskey is being consumed in Ireland. That was not on purpose - which shows how popular the spirit was in Ireland.  

From here I decided to focus further on stories from Ireland, this one not so fun.

Dateline Oct. 22 Extract of a letter from the North of Ireland. Whiskey, which made a great consumption of malt, is much discussed here, from an apprehension that poisonous intoxicating drugs were of late brewed up with the ingredients. A famous distiller was indicted for poisoning five persons at one time by his whiskey. Whiskey is a spirit like aqua vitae, distilled from malt, and by the excessive use of it, so great a consumption was made of grain that the country was reduced to a famine of bread last year. Thus, whilst multitudes were ruin’d and destroy’d by drunkenness, the sober poor were starved for want of grain for the sustenance of life. 

24 Oct 1741 England’s Newcastle Weekly Courant. 

And another case of whiskey being employed as a miracle cure:

Dublin, Dateline April 26. Last Thursday a poor shoemaker being violently afflicted with the stone, performed an operation on himself with his pegging awl, an instrument used in his profession. After the operation, he recruited his wicked spirits with a large dram of whiskey. 

14 May 1753 The Caladonian Mercury of Edinburgh.

And finally:

The excessive drinking of spirituous liquors, especially whiskey, is now so common, that more people are killed by them, than by small pox, fevers, broken limbs, accidents, and all other distempers put together. 

The article continues with the most bizarre of stories: 

Dateline Aug 25. We hear that the body of Fanning the constable, who was executed for the murder of John Bevins, on Laxer’s Hill, and buried near the Warren House, has been dug up and distilled into whiskey, which, for quantity and quality, is allowed to excel all other spirits, and no double, will be greedily swallowed by the connoisseurs in that liquor. His mastiff dog, who licked up some of his blood and was hanged the name day, we are told has been likewise distilled, and produced most excellent Stallrinky. Stallrinky is a most inflaming kind of spirit, drank by the lowest classes of people in Dublin, and sold for a half-penny a naggin. On account of the pernicious effects of whiskey upon the lower class of people, several grocers, who value a good reputation more than sordid gain, have resolved to drop the selling of that spirit.

29 November 1753, The Maryland Gazette of Annapolis, MD

In the three previous stories, whiskey is spelled with an “e” - yes including an English, colonial, and Scottish newspaper - the Scottish source having switched spellings from their use 17 years previous. 

So it’s obvious that in the early days of whiskey, Scotland had not yet stiffened its resolve to eradicate the “e” and the colonies and England were testing out both versions. 

While I was traveling throughout Ireland, I must admit, I became a little obsessed with the subject. For some reason I had so bought into the Big Four story, I seemed hell bent on confirming its validity everywhere I went. I remember looking at the historic whiskey mirrors in the Duke of York pub in Belfast, laser focusing on the many mirrors where brands spelled whiskey without the “e,” ignoring the few that did. I was actually quite frustrated when I went to Bushmills and no one could seem to tell me if the distillery had ever gone without the “e.”

It wasn’t until I arrived at Blackwater Distillery in Waterford that I started to question the Big Four narrative. Blackwater founder Peter Mulryan had written a book on Irish whiskey and we sat down to chat about it. Something he said to me started to penetrate my stubborn loyalty to the Dublin Four. He pointed out how the distillers of that era didn’t sell whiskey directly to the public. They used bonders who took the headlines and placed the distillers name as a source. I thought, if this was the case, how could Roe, Jameson, Jameson, and Powers hold sway over how whiskey was spelled? 

Since everyone else seemed to agree with the Big Four theory, and since I was so invested in it myself, I decided to let it drop. But the brand history project I’ve been working on has blasted a spotlight on long trusted narratives can be completely wrong.  80% of what was believed about this brand was wrong, once I started finding first hand accounts.  I finally decided to move the Big Four 100% into the questionable category and with that open mind, I did a search on Irish newspapers. 

The first was a story from the Waterford Chronicle. Dated Friday, August 15, 1777, it described an incident where a candle fell into a hogshead of whiskey in the Christ Church Yard, causing flames to burn down two adjoining houses. 

In this article and all subsequent articles from the Chronicle, whiskey was spelled with an “e.” Now this was over a century before the Big Four claim. But maybe this was just an isolated newspaper. So, I went to find Dublin’s first mention. This came from a paper called The Freeman’s Journal, Dateline 12 Mar 1785. The story talks of an uprising on Feb 9th where excise gauger Barrington Lodge had his house attacked around 10 o’clock at night, by a mob from Roscrea, they fired several shots into Lodge’s house, broke open the door, and stole back five hogsheads of whiskey, distilled by Christopher Downes of Roscrea, which had been seized days earlier. 

Here whiskey is also spelled with an “e.” As were other stories by the paper - again a century before the Big Four claim.

I’ve always found it curious that the Dublin Four’s book deriding column still whiskey as silent spirit, spelled whiskey without an “e” throughout. And in a great stroke of irony, the Royal Commission in England that ruled it was whiskey in 1909 spelled the word with an “e.”

It’s obvious that a few people didn’t get the memo, including American distillers whose government often spelled whiskey without an “e,”

So what are we to believe? 

After doing a deep search, I found that between 1800 and 1830, there were no less than 1033 articles in Dublin with whiskey spelled with an “e,” plus 656 in Ulster, 253 in Cork and 250 in Waterford. As for the non “e” spelling, it only appeared 28 times countrywide between 1777 and 1829.

During this same time span, the Americans spelled whiskey with an “e” more than 26k times versus 71 instances without the “e” during the period. 

England was the biggest surprise, using the “e” 70% of the time, while Scotland showed their trend by rarely using the e. 

Between 1830 and 1870 things started to change in the US and England. In the U.S. the non “e” spelling gained by leaps and bounds and the occurrences were split 50/50, while England turned 95% toward their northern neighbors dropping the “e.” Ulster, like the U.S. was evenly split, but the rest of Ireland was almost 80% spelling with an “e.” So the “e” was already well established throughout the island by the time of the Big Four’s complaints. 

Just for curiosity’s sake, I decided to survey one more era - the era when Irish whiskey hit its peak and bourbon and rye whiskey in the United States saw some of its greatest distilling legends. By this time, the United States went 2 to 1 with the lack of an “e.” It was during this time that brands like Old Forester and George Dickel were established. Was the lack of e adopted because of some kind of allegiance to a Scottish heritage, or was it because that was the popular spelling when they were founded. The lines between marketing and fact can get quite blurry over time. 

During the same period, Scotland was 98% spelling without an “e.” while their neighbors across the Irish Sea in Ulster were almost as committed at 95% no “e” - with the holdout appearing to be Bushmills. England was 80% no “e.” and the rest of Ireland beyond Ulster went the opposite way 85% committing to the “e.”

What does this all prove? Well, I already knew the belief that Ireland and the United States always using an “e” is a myth. It also proves that the Big Four story is also a myth, since they couldn’t have used it as a differentiator because it was already being widely used in Ireland - even if they had that level of control over their bonders. It also proves a heavy commitment to no “e” by the Scots, almost from the day the word was established. And that the ties between the Ulster region in Northern Ireland and their Scottish neighbor to the north was strong enough to influence their spelling, regardless of what the rest of Ireland was doing. 

In a way I feel like my research is tossing away half the script of Irish tour guides. But honestly, isn’t the truth a whole lot more telling than some pat answer myth that evolved out of taking someone’s word for it? 

And the lesson I take away from this is, I need to be careful about getting too passionate about a particular outcome when I start my research. Confirmation bias is a nasty animal when it comes to hunting for real answers. We see a piece of evidence in our favor and we get tunnel vision, dismissing as weak anything that counters our desired outcome.  I don’t know why I became so passionate about wanting to see Ireland’s non-use of the “e.” Maybe it comes from wanting to be the guy who dispels a great myth. But the myth I thought I was dispelling was the idea that Ireland always spelled whiskey with an “e.” But in finally seeking the truth, rather than seeking confirmation, I found the thing that dispelled the myth was actually a myth itself. You just can’t make this stuff up folks. 

Speaking of Dublin and the Big Four, it’s time to check back in with Alfred Barnard and his mates during their last day in town - as they visit a Dublin distillery owned by the Distillers Company Limited of Scotland, known to contemporaries of Barnard as the DCL. The very company whose allegiance to the column still had become a thorn in the Big Four’s sides.

Phoenix Park

We had reserved this, our last day in Dublin City, for our excursion to the Phœnix Park Distillery. We were favoured with most brilliant weather, and our drive through the Park was most enjoyable. It is the finest and most extensive public park in the United Kingdom. It was formerly part of the monastery grounds of St. John of Jerusalem, is finely diversified with woodland and undulating ground, and well stocked with deer. It was first laid down by King Charles II. in 1662. Shortly afterwards, by command of his Majesty, James Duke of Ormond purchased the adjoining lands of Chapel-izod and Newtown, in order to extend the park. At that time it extended on both sides of the Liffey; but being so much exposed to trespassers, Sir John Temple, a far-seeing and shrewd man, undertook, on condition of being paid two hundred pounds out of the King’s Treasury, to enclose the whole of that part on the north side of the river, and a grant was also made to him of all the excluded lands. Of late years it has received a terrible notoriety from the foul murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke, under circumstances of brutality never surpassed. In the centre of the main drive there stands a fluted Corinthian pillar about fifty feet high, surmounted with a figure of a Phœnix in her burning nest. It was erected in the year 1747 by the celebrated Earl of Chesterfield, when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who did much to improve and beautify the Park. This column the proprietors of the Phœnix Park Distillery have adopted as an effective trade mark. 

The Distillery is situated on the banks of the Liffey, which runs through the property, and was established in the year 1878; previous to that date the premises had been used as a spinning-mill, and being very lofty and extensive, were easily converted into a Distillery. There is a stream tramway running past the works, which gives easy access to Dublin, which is distant about four miles. The Liffey at Chapel-izod is a beautiful clear stream, and quite unlike the Liffey at Dublin City. Its banks are finely diversified and display sylvan scenes of great beauty; skirting the demesne of Woodland they are covered with trees for more than a mile. Not far distant from the Distillery is the Salmon Leap, the lowest rapid on the Liffey; it is reached through the grounds of Westown, where the river enters a narrow ravine, through which it rushes among the rocks that impede its progress. About the middle of this ravine it throws its water over a wide broken ledge of rocks; at all times it is a beautiful sight, but when the river is swollen its magnificence is greatly heightened. The works cover five acres, and when the new Maltings, now in course of construction, are completed, will exceed six acres. The establishment is entered from the main road, through a handsome gateway, and the buildings are built in the form of a square. The offices are on the right, and are reached by a short stair; they contain, besides the general clerks’ offices, private rooms for the manager.

After making ourselves known, we were furnished with a guide, who first took us to the Grain Stores, which consist of a range of buildings, wherein are nine lofts capable of storing 12,000 quarters of barley, oats, &c., to which are attached three Kilns where the grain is dried by hot air. We next bent our steps across the close to the Maltings, which consist of three floors; but there are larger Malt Houses in course of construction at the rear of the premises, covering an acre of ground, which, besides being modern in appearance, have a fine lofty Kiln floored with new iron patent flooring. On returning to the Grain buildings we were shown the machinery by which the dried grain is removed to the Mill. It consists of two wide continuous belts, traversing the whole extent of the buildings, and it is wonderful to see that not a single grain of barley is lost in its onward progress. We next passed on to the Mill building, which is a lofty brick structure containing five pairs of stones. The belt delivers the grain into a hopper over this Mill, and after being crushed, the grist is weighted into bags and deposited on the grist loft adjoining, ready for use. The Mash House is under the grist loft; therefore, the hoppers into which the sacks are emptied command the Mash Tuns. These are circular vessels, 30 feet in diameter and 9 feet deep, containing the usual stirring gear and draining plates. The Heaters supply the hot water to these vessels, and are placed above them. From the Mash Tun the worts descend into the two Underbacks, placed under the floor; whilst the grains which are left behind are pumped into a huge tank, and afterwards sold to the dairymen in the neighbourhood.

We next ascended a stone staircase and found ourselves in a spacious apartment called the Black Loft. It contains twelve Washbacks, each with a capacity of 18,000 gallons; the worts are pumped up from the Underbacks, through a Morton’s Refrigerator and coolers, into these twelve vessels by means of a three-throw pump, at the rate of 10,000 gallons an hour. From the Backs the fermented worts, which are now called wash, run into the two Wash Chargers, which are of a similar capacity, and so arranged that they command the Still, which holds 18,000 gallons, where it is distilled and condensed; thence it runs into the Low-wines and Feints Receiver, and is again subjected to a similar distilling process.

The Still House is a fine building, and fitted with every appliance. It contains four Pot Stills, all of them heated by furnaces. There is no steam power on the premises, the Liffey supplying all the motive power required, by means of a water-wheel, which stretches right across the river, and is said to be the largest in the kingdom, measuring 70 feet in breadth and 18 feet in diameter. We next proceeded to the Receiving Room, which contains, besides the Safe, ten Receivers. Contiguous to this department is the Spirit Store, containing two vats holding 16,000 gallons each. Retracing our steps, and passing the two Morton’s Refrigerators and two large Worm Tubs, we crossed the court to the Bonded Warehouses, which are six in number; two with two floors, other two with three floors, and the remaining two with four - holding in all 16,000 casks. Adjoining is a Racking Store and Cooperage, also a smithy and carpenters’ shop.

The Distillery is lighted by incandescent lamps; they have been recently installed, and give every satisfaction, not only saving money but insure greater security from fire. The electricity is supplied by an Ellwell-Parker dynamo, and the water-wheel supplies the motive power. In addition there are accumulators for storing the electricity, which are capable of supplying light to the works for six hours continuously without the use of the dynamo. With all the new improvements and machinery for saving labour, this Distillery, although the smallest, is the most modern of any of the Distilleries owned by the Distillers’ Company, Limited. The machinery supplied to the new Malt House being the most perfect mechanism for lifting and moving grain that has, up to the present time, been invented.

Sixty persons are employed on the premises, and seven Excise officers.

The water used for distilling purposes is brought from the upper reaches of the river through a closed pipe.

The make is called Dublin Whisky, and the annual output is 350,000 gallons, which find a market chiefly in London and the Colonies.

Great Northern

There I sat, in the offices at Great Northern Distillery, staring at that awkward looking 140 year old bottle that once held the whiskey now sitting in my glass. I wasn’t quite sure how this was going to go.

“It’s safe” GND’s Distillery Manager Brian Watts confirmed. I held the glass to my nose. Whoa, such a fascinating smell! I pulled it to my lips and took in what was available in the glass. The first thing I noticed was a wonderful medicinal character. Then instantly the liquid started throwing all manner of intense flavors across my palate. Brian could see my mixture of pleasure and confusion. He told me those flavors were likely coming from wild yeast and possibly a yeast infection that had teased out the funky flavors. But whatever the process, Brian said, the distiller was obviously skilled - yet all we knew was the source of this bottle - under a barn in County Tyrone. But tests had confirmed, it was whiskey.  

It reminded me of the recent story I’d seen in the news about what was claimed to be the oldest bottle of whiskey ever found. Selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars the University of Glasgow had carbon dated it to the late 1700s. I asked him his opinion on carbon dating and he agreed with me that carbon dating of liquid before the nuclear age can’t really be all that accurate - since it is a measure of radiation in the liquid.

It was about this time that the godfather of Irish whiskey, John Teeling walked in the room, extending a friendly hand and apologizing for being late. What he didn’t realize was how much I was enjoying talking with his distillery manager.

A graduate of University College Dublin as well as two Ivy League schools, John had gone on to success in multiple industries and took on the challenge of getting into the Irish whiskey industry just as it was starting to wake from its slumber thanks to the popularity of Jameson. Between Cooley and Great Northern distilleries, he had fueled a huge amount of the spirits that are being sold as Irish whiskey today. Yet, he was as friendly and easy to chat with as Michael Walsh had led on. 

He asked me about my travels and I told him I was going to around 45 distilleries, many of whom were likely his customers in one way or another - he said, hopefully 43 of them. We all laughed. And that was really the spirit of the conversation. I told him Brian and I were getting well acquainted and had been sipping some whiskey. He saw the old brown bottle on the table and pointed to it - “you gave him that?” He looked at Brian. “It was amazing” I said. He told me they had a 75 year old whiskey I could try, if I had a family member I was willing to sell, again a laugh. 

The conversation moved along to production and whiskey styles, I mentioned that I had recently been to Jack Daniel’s and that they were experimenting with an American Single Malt that they were running through a column still - and that their master distiller Chris Fletcher said that it was more for adding body to the whiskey, rather than flavor, since barley didn’t have a lot of flavor. Brian gave me the look I was expecting - “those are fighting words” he said with a laugh. Yeah, sacrilegious, John piped in. He reminded me of the Big Four’s book that referred to column still whiskey as “silent spirit.” We all agreed, the imperfections of the pot still are needed to make barley really sing. 

John said he'd like to take me on a tour of the facilities, but that Brian would have a better handle on the technical aspects and that we could chat history during lunch. I agreed. It would be nice to dig into the details of their process. 

For the next hour, Brian walked me around the grounds that at one time produced Harp Beer. It was already a large distillery, featuring a column still and a triple pot still setup, but he said over the next few years there would be six distilleries in this one location! They have a massive 324k casks under management split over 19 palletized warehouses and they keep a database of their casks as well as all of their formulas for making each client’s whiskey. I asked how they kept up with the quality from year to year on the individual whiskeys he was creating for customers and he said they kept a library of samples for comparison.

Having heard so much about Fionnan O’Connor’s work on historic mash bills, I asked Brian what he thought of the focus on mash bills. He acknowledged it was the future of Irish whiskey, but that it was far from the be all and end all of getting flavor. The art, he said, was working with yeast strains, fermentation times, reflux, casks, and other elements in the process. I soon realized why it was so important for me to take this journey to more than just a handful of distilleries. Every distiller had their own experiences, theories, and passionate reasons for doing things the way they thought best - none were necessarily right or wrong - and all had intentions of making the best whiskey possible - and the results were greater choice and diversity of spirit for us.

Our next step was down into the blending lab. Talk about a place where one could really play mad scientist! Stretched out on the counter were about 40 bottles, all featuring different distilled samples, some rye finished, some rum finished, some aged in virgin oak - some single malt, some single pot still, some peated, most unpeated. He started blending different types of whiskey and let me sample each. It was amazing to see how a couple drops of peat or oloroso sherry cask whiskey could elevate a grain spirit or add personality to a single malt. We talked about aging whiskey in stout beer barrels and I commented on how, being a Guinness fan, I wasn’t that impressed with Jameson’s Stout Caskmates, he said, let me let you try our imperial stout finish. He added a couple drops of peated whiskey to give it smoke. What I tasted was marvelous. It had a bit of grain, coffee, and chocolate to it and the smoke just set me back to making smores over a campfire. He said, that is what whiskey is for - it should take you back to a moment - like a photograph for your senses.

The last thing he had me sample was a special bottle filled with very dark liquid. “This is a whiskey made in 1944 at John Lockes in Kilbeggan.” I looked at the bottle in amazement. How dark that liquid was. Brian said, it is that dark because they just recently removed it from the cask. I gave him an odd glance. “How did this whiskey survive in a cask for 75 years, if it were from Kentucky it would have been gone 50 years ago. He said, it was in a dark corner of an old damp cellar - the cask itself was hard and heavy - almost fossilized. He said, “it’s not the greatest whiskey, but it is interesting - tell me what you taste.” I said, “I imagine it will taste like wood.” “A little maybe - give it a try.” To my shock, the first thing to strike my palate was a berry flavor. “I get prunes,” he said, “but most people don’t like to give that flavor note because it doesn’t always bring on pleasant emotions.” I told him, it was really actually quite impressive that it has that much personality after so long in the wood. He said, what he found really interesting is that the distiller at Lockes at the time was a woman - not something we might have expected from that era. I truly had tasted history. What an honor.

After a fantastic morning walking through the distillery. We made our way back to the offices to meet up with John Teeling and have lunch. After lunch I would take my first journey into Northern Ireland for a distillery experience much different from the one I was experiencing in Dundalk. From the photos I’d seen, it was a micro-distillery, but its distiller Brendan Carty was growing a legendary reputation for expanding the boundaries of Irish spirits. I’ll take you there, in our next episode.

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

If you can’t get enough whiskey history, make sure to check out my other podcast Whiskey Lore: The Interviews, where I turn the tables and let distillers, historians, authors, and distillery founders tell their stories. This week I will be staying in my home state and chatting local legends and whiskey with Burnt Church Distillery.

And keep up with the visuals from my journey across Ireland by following Whiskey Lore on Instagram and Facebook. And make sure you’re subscribed to this podcast because the Irish journey continues with a visit to Killowen Distillery in Northern Ireland, Alfred’s first steps outside of Dublin, and more of the history and legends of Irish Whiskey.

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.


  • Various newspapers from Newspapers.com
  • Alfred Barnard "The Distilleries of Great Britain"

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