Ep. 81 - All Scotch Is Smoky and All Irish Is Triple Distilled - Or Are They?

JAMES DOHERTY // Ardara Distillery

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Show Notes

Join me as I chat Donegal distilling history, discuss the idea of smoky whiskey and how the myths around scotch and Irish whiskey developed with James Doherty. James is the Founder of the Sliabh Liag Distillers’ Ardara Distillery, the producer of Silkie, one of the new breeds of Irish Whiskeys hitting your local whiskey retailer.

The land of illicit spirits, Ardara breaks that trend with their brand new distillery. We'll talk about peat (or turf) as it is called in Ireland, discuss why Donegal may have gone the direction of illegal distillation, taste Midnight Silkie, and discuss tours and visiting Donegal's 3 new distilleries.

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

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Drew (00:00:09):
Welcome to Whiskey Lore, the interviews. I'm your host, Drew Hennish, the Amazon bestselling author of Whiskey Laura's Travel Guide to Experience in Kentucky Bourbon. And soon, the author of Whiskey Lord's Travel Guide to Experiencing Irish Whiskey. Stay tuned at the end to find out more. And today I wanna welcome as my guest, James Doherty. James is the founder of Sleeve League Distillers Ara Distillery, the producer of Silky, which is one of the new breeds of Irish whiskey, hitting your local whiskey retailer. And James, welcome into the show,

James (00:00:43):
Drew. Thanks for having me. It's a real pleasure.

Drew (00:00:45):
Yes, this is this is great. We had a chance to chat before we, we, I didn't get to meet you face to face when I was traveling across Ireland, unfortunately, cuz you guys were off in Germany. You and Moira, your, your wife and you know, getting people in the world of whiskey to meet you and, and learn a bit about your, your brands and and what you're doing there. So, luckily we had an opportunity to catch up afterwards though, and we did our face to face on, on Zoom, which was great. And then you know, I wanted to have you on the show because you guys, not only is there a history from where your distillery is that I think my listeners will find interesting, but also you're really stretching the idea of what Irish whiskey can be.

And so we'll talk a bit about your processes here during the episode, and also do a tasting of your midnight silky and talk a little bit about your special ingredient, which is turf or peat. So we will we'll dive into that. So so let's talk about this idea of distilling in Donal and the fact that Donal hasn't had a legal distillery since 1841 with the old Burt Distillery. And so talk about, talk about that and the fact that you guys are really the first to be to have distilled legally in the area.

James (00:02:26):
Yeah, it was, it's a really interesting place, Danny Hall because it's it's in the very far northwest of, of Ireland. So it's, it's the most northerly county. We're closer to Belfast than we are to Dublin, so we're sort of geographically in the, in the north of the country, but we're politically in the republic and, and probably what makes us contrary as we're forgotten by everybody. So it's it's a county of, of, kind of, has a kind of interesting attitude to the world. And, and I kind of describe it as mischief and melancholy. So it's kind of, it's a county where people have left, you know, it's a county where people leave to kind of look for opportunity elsewhere. And that includes my parents who left, you know, my mom left here in 1966 and I grew up in England, hence this sort of British accent, which I'm afraid I can't shake.

But <laugh>, it's but I, I've always considered myself Irish. And, and if you look at this wonderful county, what you see is it's, it has the most amazing illicit distilling heritage. So, you know, everybody's grandfather would've been a distiller. You know, I think the, a lot of the, the kind of continuity has probably been lost now because the, the current generation, my dad's generation all kind of a more town based and it's less rural and, and you know, alcohol is generally cheaper. So you don't really get that many people making illicit alcohol. Now you still do, but not, not as many. But this county had in, if you go back to say 1815, there were more illicit still seizures in Donny go. And there were in any other county in the country of Ireland or in the, on the island of Ireland.

And the next nearest would've been Turr, which was like 120 or something. So you like four times as many people were getting caught, which tells you two, one of two things or maybe three things. But the firstly, either they weren't very good at hiding at it, hiding, maybe they were all at it and it, they didn't care. And three, maybe we had better police, I don't know. But I mean, the reality is it, this is the distilling heartland of, of Ireland and the style of illicit stills was smokey. And that's because our primary fuel source is tough, or Pete, as it would be called in the, in Scottish terms. And, and that style has kind of fallen away. But the last distillery here wasn't, as you said, was 1841. This distillery in Bert, which is on the road between letter Kenny and D.

So in the very north of the county, the, the chimney still stands. So the original Stillhouse in chimney is still standing to this day. And it's a, it's a beef farm now. So they closed in 1841. They were making light easy styles, and of course there was no home market for that. And they weren't big enough to compete with the international guys, so they fell by the wayside. So 20 sort of fast forward, if you think to sort of 2014 Mo and I moved back from Hong Kong to build our distillery. It was a, it was an itch that needed scratching for me. You know, it kind of, it kind of scared us and excited us at the same level, which probably a bit like getting on a rollercoaster, you know, cuz like that you gotta do it. So we came back with this intention of reclaiming the distilling heritage of Danny Go putting rural tastes back at the front and center of what, what Irish whiskey was and, and, and should be. And that meant that we sort of started distilling gin in 2017. We, through 2019 we released Silky as it is now with the smokey elements to it. And in 2020 during lockdown found the time to to lay down the first single more whiskey distilled in Donegal legally since 1841, which was a lot of fun.

Drew (00:06:10):
Well, and we'll dig into a little bit of this, this first idea here and a little bit, but kind of getting back to this idea of distilling in that area and how long this illicit distilling had gone on. I, I did an episode actually recently where I was for whiskey lower stories where I was talking about the excise and the history of the excise. And it was an interesting time period in the the 18th century that laws were passed and they were working to try to they basically handed it over to the excise to figure out market towns because they wanted to have market towns be the ones that had the license. So they didn't have to go out and find all these illicit distillers across the countryside. So they wanted to simplify this thing. And in doing that I think they showed the, their ignorance to whiskey production and the reason for whiskey production because the market towns they seemed to develop were a lot in the south where there was a lot of grain.

And then in the north they didn't quite get to the north very easily. So they didn't set up a lot of market towns in the north. And I think this is part of the reason from what I can see, you know, the idea being if you have enough grain and you're in a town that has a strong market for grain, you don't need to make whiskey. And this being the reason why Waterford and kilda and some of these areas didn't really get known for whiskey distillation, whereas you had no market towns really being set up in Donny gal yet here you had all these distillers who couldn't make whiskey because they didn't have a market town near them to legally do it. And I wonder if that's part of the reason why all these distillers went underground.

James (00:08:13):
Yeah, I wonder, I hadn't thought of it like that, but I think also there's a, the unintended consequences of, of the tax man getting involved in anything kind of drives very weird behavior, you know? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, if you look at your three tier system in America, it's really a product of prohibition. And, you know, the, the consolidation of Irish whiskey probably driven partly by the tax man as much as anything else in Ireland. I think also if you, if you're a government body, you tend to focus resources and they still do it today where they get the biggest bang for their buck. So they kind of rural areas, remote areas, they just get forgotten. You know, they, they, they're, they're just put in the too difficult or the too hard box. And, and then, you know, if you look at the distillers that were, you know, you know, even sort of my grandfathers and their sort of ancestors, they were all so small that really catching them is almost impossible because the remote, they're only doing it up on the hills at certain, you know, between, what is it, between harvest periods.

So from July to October before the weather gets too bad and, you know, and everyone's in on it. So you're not really gonna be able to get into an area and, and close it down. I mean, if you look at the islands, one of the things, you know, some of the stories about the islands were, you know, there was no, there were no guards, there were no police on the island, they were on the mainland, so, so they had to take a ferry across, but mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, by the time they were on the ferry, everybody knew what was happening, so everything was cleared away and hidden. And so it, it's, it's kind of one of those strange ones. But I do think that the, the, the, that, you know, what has happened in, in Donny Gold particularly is that most of the players are small, very small, very local serving local markets is probably a survival piece about that, about not getting caught and being, and being good at it.

It also probably means you can have copper stills and make better quality patching rather than rather than kind of using 10 stills and kind of poor ingredients cuz you're not, not so worried about getting caught. But we've also in, you know, if you look at someone like Danny Go, the county town really was dairy, you know, and that's, you know, that's when you think about that, that's two and a half hours drive from where I am now in a car. You know, it might, it might as well be forever away if, if you go back to sort of the turn of the century. So and I, sorry, the turn of the 19th century rather than the 20th century. Yeah. But you know, so I think it's an interesting piece where the, I think the, the certain behavior of the tax man has, has definitely driven a, a, a way the kind of rural, the sort of small scale rural player into this kind of town based thing.

But it's certainly true if you look at ans coffee, who invented the, the column still, you know, he was a tax officer up here in Donegal, he got shot whil, he was up here. But he, he he, he's quoted as saying that that every, every farmer in Donegal was a full-time distiller and a part-time farmer and not the other way around, which was what they claimed. Yeah. <laugh>. So, so I think it's, it's, for me it's just, it is wonderful. The stories are rich. I have my grandfather's pot recipe, which we do to make in a week or so, and it's, it's alien to me that this county with such a rich distilling heritage didn't have any kind of distilling presence at all until we came back. You know, I can't quite understand why someone else didn't think of it first.

Drew (00:11:33):
Well, and interesting that actually in reading about the old distillery, part of the reason why they said it shut down was because of competition from dairy. Because D had two established distilleries and they just couldn't compete with that. And it break, it breaks my heart that I didn't see the chimney or get a chance to, or know it was there because I stayed right down the road from it right on the border outside. I was, I was still in Northern Ireland, but I was staying at a bed and breakfast where as soon as I drove down the road within two minutes I was in Donal, I was in the, you know, so but

James (00:12:13):
It's, it, it is funny because I think you know, that that angle of you know, Watts is coming back as well. So we actually had, for example, I mean this shows you, I mean, it's kind of a nice collegiate industry at the moment, but the guys that are putting the old Watts brand, which is the dairy brand back on a map, they were actually down in the IRA distillery filming our stills and things yesterday. So they came down cuz you know, when you're putting together brochures to raise money and all that kind of stuff, you need kind of sexy looking fit photos of warm copper things and bubbling things and what have you. And and so we said, Look, come down, use our distillery. You know, you won't recognize it in the photos anyway. But, but I think Bert's challenge was that it, it wasn't making a style that competed with the, its its home market if you like.

It's done all market. It couldn't, and it was also then not of a scale that could compete on a cost level with the with, with Watson and the bigger distilleries in the north in Colraine and what have you. So, so it kind of ended up falling between two stools and, and and dying away, which is, I think that's what's happened with quite a lot of those dis those old distilleries is, you know, the kind of reason for being kind of just peed out and, and they were neither no the scaled or scalable or sort of small and artisanal and could be, could find their own way, you know, like a kill bengan would've done.

Drew (00:13:40):
Yeah. So you've moved forward 175 years and now all of a sudden we have three distilleries in in Donal. So and, and so it's interesting to see now that rediscovery there's a slight bit of controversy, which is the idea of who was the first one to distill <laugh>, since you're on the show, I'll give you the the first opportunity to jump in there and and and say first, first Barrel distilled belongs to,

James (00:14:14):
Belongs to Sleeve league Distillers. So, Okay.

Drew (00:14:17):
<Laugh>, we, the first,

James (00:14:18):
It's, it's one of those funny ones. You know, I think it's, it's a product of the, the kind of relative youth of the, you know, Irish whiskey is interesting because it's like the oldest distilling heritage potentially in the world. And it's also the youngest because, you know, it's gone from a super consolidated position to a to a, to a now 40 odd distilleries in the period of like 10 years. So you kind of look at that and you go, Wow. And, and everybody wants to be, everyone's trying to give a sense of place, a sense of purpose and a sense of the, the kind of right to be there. And, and so there's a always, everybody wants to be the first at something first or fastest or biggest, you know. And you know, we, we certainly made the first whiskey in Donegal. We're the first distilling company in Donegal for for since 1841.

We made, we made our single more in a distillery, which was producing gin in the main. So, you know, we've made tiny quantities of double distilled ferociously petered single or so, you know, which comes of age on the 26th of July next year. So that's kind of irrefutable. If you want a purpose-built whiskey distillery, I guess the Crawley guys would say they're the first at that. And they, they do some interesting things cuz they've got cognac stills and direct firing. So they're looking at it in a slightly different way. They're unpeated with petered. And then in the far north of the county, you've got the BU Oak distillery with, with Michael Ab Boyle up there. And, and Michaels kind of doing, you know, his scale is substantially smaller than ours and, and substantially smaller than Crawley. And he has that, that luxury of being able to make just whatever the hell he damn will be.

Drew (00:16:03):
<Laugh>, that's,

James (00:16:04):
Yeah, that's a fine as a fine place to be. So I think we've got three kind of very different models that that, that potentially are all successful for different reasons. And that, and that's, that's really good because I think dunny go could probably cope with, you know, 5, 6, 7 distilleries that would make us a proper destination. Now if you put Watts into that in dairy, you kind of go, okay, well that could be one of them. So, you know, three, that's four. Yeah.

Drew (00:16:30):
You got Lima Body might be happening a little down the road from there.

James (00:16:35):
And if you've got, you know, Saac just bought lot Gill down in Sligo, right? You know, you're starting to pull, you're starting to pull the, the gravity, the center of gravity of distilling away from the south and just a little bit more towards the northwest and we'll take that.

Drew (00:16:49):
Yeah. And I, I love this idea, and this is what I really am trying to get across in the book is that there are, I mean, I count 27 distilleries that I went to that have tours going on. Right now I have 24 projects and I don't have watts in there. So I have 24 projects that are either the distillery is there and they just aren't doing tours yet. Michael's distillery is a good example of that or, you know, that, that are coming down the road. And so, but yet with all of those distilleries, everybody is doing something a little different. The experience at each distillery is a little different and you're telling different pieces of history or you are creating whiskeys that use different techniques. Good example of that being when I was, I visited Michael before I came down to your distillery, I went to Crowley and then I came back down your way.

And when I was there we were chatting back and forth about the fact that he was thinking about doing grains in distilling and grains in is something that me, as somebody who's traveled through Kentucky, Tennessee, you know, American distillers do a lot more grain in distilling than I've, in fact, I can't name really any in Scotland that I've bumped into that are doing grains in. I know that there, there probably are a couple examples. But to hear, to hear him say that and then drive down the road and then find out that you guys are doing it. And so I actually sent him an email just after I, I had Graham your distiller walk us through and you know, tell me everything. I said, You're probably gonna get a call from this guy Michael because he, he said he just doesn't know how you can do that and kind of explain grains in just for people who don't understand what that means. You're basically, you know, distillers can either take the wart and drain it off or beer, whatever we want to call it and drain that off and then distill that. Or you can just leave all of the grain and the wart and put that into distill and distill it there, which has all of its own little issues potentially. And so this is why it's not always done has

James (00:19:16):
Issues for sure. <Laugh>.

Drew (00:19:20):
Yeah. So you guys have chosen to do grains in, So talk, talk a little bit about that decision why you decided to do that and and, and maybe some of those issues that you bumped into.

James (00:19:31):
Yeah, it, I mean, it, for us it was, it was a really straightforward decision at the beginning. I suppose you, you need to be, you need to do something that you are passionate about, first of all. And so it kind of needs to be true to you, but it also needs to be true to the place, you know, our sense of place. And for us, it was really clear that if we were kind of honoring, you know, you, you stand on the shoulders of, you know, giants like my grandfather. And actually, you know, he was born in 1898 and he was six foot three. So, you know, by, by that kind of era, he was a big man, a giant, But you, you are sort of looking at his process and I'm going, Well, if you were in dunny go and you were making whiskey and he came back today, you know, he's been dead a long time now, but if he was, you know, if he came back today, what would he recognize as a distilling process?

And he certainly wouldn't recognize a mash ton and, and clear war and, and things like that. So, so we said, well, if we should be true to this place, and we, so we should try and replicate a, an illicit distilling process mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and try and make our whiskeys as characterful as possible. So, you know, the, the, the, you know, our contention and I think it's pretty well, you know, it's pretty well documented that Irish whiskey, pre-independence, pre-prohibition would've been much richer in style and than it is today. And that the kind of taste you have today is, is a reaction to the kind of dominance of scotch post second World War. So if you go back to those flavors of before they were richer, they were more grain heavy in terms of the grain influence on it. And we felt that, that we should honor that by making this grains in process.

Now for us, that means we have a hammer mill and we turn the grain all, all heavily peed. So we make we, we make a heavily peed single malt, a medium peated single malt, and a heavily peed pot still. And we use a hammer mill to, to take the malted Bali and, and the grains and smash them down to a sort of two millimeter flower. And then instead of going into a mash ton, we have a, a cooker. So we just, we put it in with the, the water at 64 and you, you convert all your sugars into solution. But then at that point, in a proper single malt distillery, a modern, you know, modern kind of single malt distillery, you would then filter that away. So the grain is kept back and fed off to cattle or goes to an anaerobic digestor or whatever, and the clear wat goes through the liquid there with all the sugars in it.

Whereas we felt like if we had all of the grain, we get all of the character of all of the grain all of the time because it stays in all the way through to the wash stool. So in the fermentors it does give you challenges because in the fermenters, you've gotta have propellers now to keep the grains up in solution the whole time. Because if you switch off, if it's, if the, if, if you are wash in the, in the fermentors stops moving, the grain all settles to the bottom and you can't, you can't bump it out. So so you know, we've had a whole lot of problems that to be fair, the guys at for sites and, and, and my distilling team have been brilliant at just putting their arms around, working it out, scratching their heads a bit, <laugh>, you know, what are we gonna do?

How are we gonna make it work? But we've, we've kind of overcome them now, but I mean, we've had, we got quite intimate with our heat exchanges, so they, they used to block up repeatedly, so we had to take them apart all the time to clean them out, which impacts yields and what have you. We have every single non-return valve in the building has been changed three times. And, and you know, and this is where going, you know, with a dis like a distillery manufacturer, like for sites is really good because they just, they stayed there beside you. You know, you're kind of holding hands going through this together cuz the, the first set of non-return valves blocked. We changed them for some new ones. They also blocked. We then had to send them off to be precision ma manufactured. And that now it all works like clockwork.

And interestingly, there are other distilleries who are now trying to do versions of grains in and if it's a pH science distillery, well the lessons have been learned, so then people are not gonna have to wear the scars that we do to, to to get it. But, but I think what it's helped, helped us do is kind of really understand the process, understand what it is we're trying to do. And it has produced for, you know, I mean I would say this anyway I guess, but, but they, it has produced exceptional new make. So we had a group from Germany and yesterday who were just like, I'd buy that today. And, you know, maybe it's a bit too clean, might be the only thing from a blending perspective later, but, but we get ex extra sweetness because of the hammer milling and extra smoke.

So we get this incredible balance and richness, which is I suppose there's a bit of luck in there, you know, cuz we made these calls and then you kind of <laugh> you design the thing and then you, you just, you know, with f sight, you know, you don't really know the guys, they would tell you, you don't really know until you run, start running it through until you start to make, you start to get to used to your equipment and you understand it and you understand the foibles of it. But we are really, really proud of it at the moment. It's making some lovely, lovely whiskeys. And, and that's down to, to Graham and the guys, I'd love to say it was all down to my genius, but I can tell you it's not so <laugh>.

Drew (00:24:47):
Yeah. Well you, you have, I mean, learning on the fly, it's interesting because I mentioned that I couldn't think of any scotch distilleries that were doing grains in and, and you had mentioned that foresight, actually this was their first grain in still, and, and so they were having to learn along, which goes to show this is not a style that you're going to find all over the place in Ireland. In fact, I have to think, I'll have to ask the guys at at Town Branch, which, you know, Pierce Lions, that's their sister distillery in Kentucky and they have these two beautiful foresight pots stills. But I'm assuming that they actually are not doing grains in on those because again, they would be for sites unless the guys there just knew how to engineer everything to make it, to make it work.

James (00:25:39):
Yeah, I think so for sites have definitely put I think there is one in Scotland, I can't think of the name of it now off the top of my head, but certainly B volcanos in, in Texas mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, they, they have, so our wash still re boiler is, is kind of modeled on theirs. So, you know, they, they learn some lessons there. And in fact I was unsure about the kind of technique that we were doing and Richard Junior at f resides said, you know, look, give the guys a volcano as a call here. There is a number. And we talked through how it works in practice and kind of what lessons they'd learned from it. And, and just as kind of the lessons that we've learned will help others, the lessons they learned helped us because I, they came back and said, Well, look, we, we've had to put in additional valves here and here and here because otherwise this happens. And, and I kind of went back to facades and said, Look, okay, I'm sold, but the, the guys have flagged this issue up and they're No, no, no. That's part of the standard design now. So you know, and that's one of the great things about the industry being as collegiate as as it is, you know, certainly at the technical level, everybody's interested in kind of helping everybody else get off the ground and get it, you know, to get it working. So, you know, I have to say, people have been super supremely supportive.

Drew (00:26:53):
Nice. So in talking about getting turf and being able to malt your barley with it, is that something that is in-house now in terms of, are you getting that from Ireland or is that having to come from Scotland still, or how does that work for

James (00:27:13):
You guys? So, so we have a mix of both actually at the moment. So the distillery requires 700 tons of malted barley petered malt a year just to run as it is. And when we go to a third shift, you can add another third onto that, and there isn't a maltster on the island that can cope with that quantity of petered malt. So at the moment, we're having to get it from from Scotland. We are sending malted barley over to Scotland, so sorry, sending barley from Donegal. So we've been, in fact the dis the, the farms around the Burt Distillery, the old Burt Distillery. I mean, there's a wonderful kind of sort of serendipitous moment where those farmers have switched out of feed Bali into distilling Bali and growing it for us and for Crowley. And so that's brilliant because that's getting multi, you know, they, they're getting more money, but it's also giving us dunny or Bali that's either going over to Scotland to be peed for us, or it's being malted on the island unpeated for, for the guys at Crawley.

So, so that's, we're doing that and and we have done sent our turf away to Maltsters so that we're getting our own Donegal sort of angle on it, that the vast majority of what we produce, you know, in spirit transparency is, is coming outta Scotland using Scottish turf because, or your Pete, because physically that's all we can do at the moment, but we are working with the maltsters to try and get our turf sent across, put applied to it. Waterford have managed to do it. Now whether they paid an ocean to do it, I don't know, <laugh>

James (00:28:39):
Sadly I don't have an ocean of money, so I can't do that. But we are working sort of step by step steadfastly to try and get enough farmers in Donegal to, to come over to making distilling to growing distilling Bali and then work with the maltsters to try and get our turf used as well. So, but there is, there's also smaller scale maltsters on the island. So we use Irish craft malts who, who use our turf and their barley. They're from me and they'll send that up to us. And they also do for our pot still, we use malted peed oats as well, which are pretty far out there in terms of style, but it makes the pots still incredible. So

Drew (00:29:20):
Yeah, I was gonna say that the only other distillery I can think of that does that is and I, and I know that because I, I was there while he was doing it. I'm like malting oats. I've never really I've not seen it. I know of some distilleries in the us. Usually they're state distilleries that, you know, everything is there and they do, they have their own farm and, and all of that and do their own mal Yes. Free ranch in Nevada is a good example of that where he's, he has said, and I haven't followed up with him since then that he's malting just about everything he can any grain he can to see what it does. And so it's, it's fun to see this. And this brings up that question of, you know, the pots still regulations and the fact that they're very strict right now. And the question is, is what you are producing right now is it technically pots still or is it technically waiting for regulations to change to be pot still?

James (00:30:23):
Well, I think technically it's pot still, but it's not single pot still. So the, the technical file and the geographic indication is, is, is justifiably strict. I mean, I I would be in favor of stricter rules rather than looser rules anyway, because I think it's important that we drive genuine innovation rather than just experimentation. And, and you know, there's a lot of experiments that get to market and really, I don't think some of them should. So, so I, that way, you know, I think putting tight rules on things is a really good way to ensure the kind of longevity of the character of the category. I, I'd be, the challenge you have with the Potstill file particularly is that the, the Potstill technical file is written and defines single potstill as what is be, is traditional in a modern context. So that, you know, the, arguably that the rules have been written around what is being made today and when the rock file was written, you know, five, six years ago it, it is reflective of, of the only distillery that was making pots still at the time, which was Middleton, and it is reflective of what they make.

And that's, that's kind of fine, but it is, it, it kind of ignores a whole historical context, which is very different because it only really reflects that, that post-second World War style of Potstill rather than the styles of pot still that would've been here in, in sort of 1900, 19 20. I mean, our Potstill recipe is a good example. I mean, we've peed it, so it's not the way it was originally, but if we use 50% malt, but ours is petered 30% Royal Bali and then 20% oats, and ours is obviously malted petered oats. So, but that recipe, 50, 30, 20 is pretty close to the original Powers recipe from sort of 1920. Okay. So, so you can see how, you know, that's an authentic recipe. And Bo has, you know, with Finon O'Connor for part of his work has, has investigated all these historic mash bills.

And you're seeing that kind of come, everyone's doing that. You know, Peter Morion down at Blackwater, you know, he's resurrecting a lot of these old mash bills, bringing them back. And you know, as you kind of pointed out at the beginning, everyone's kind of doing a little bit different, doing something of their own. For us, we've kind of rather than tried to, to look at lots of different recipes. You've seen the plant it, the distillery's a bit too big to have too much flexibility in it. So so we don't have that luxury that that say boy or, or Blackwater would have or kill Owen would have. And or even down at short cross down at, you know, Raman estate there, David Boyd Armstrong doing some fantastic things. He's pretty quiet about what he's doing with, he's got some pretty cool stuff going on there.

So, Yeah. But it is a kind of, we are technically non-compliant today, so I'm not gid for pot still. My belief is is that there's pretty much, I mean it's very, very seldom you get real consensus between all the distillers, but there's absolute consensus really on what the new recipe kind of restrictions should be. And the sort of preferred wording I think is sort of 30 30 30. So at least 30% more at least, and up to sort of 30% Unmalted B and up to 30% other grains. And it covers that, that definition pretty well covers all of the historic mashables that would ever have been done. And the, I I think the way the submission is going is it will be on using only grains that are kind of historically being used. So, so rye, wheat maze you know, but you're not gonna be allowed to use quinoa Okay. Or something like that, you know. So I think it, you know, I think it needs to be historically authentic to to, and I think that's a really strong place for it to be now that needs to get consulted. It'll take, while my hope and I cast my belief is that it'll be, by the time we come to market, it will have changed. And if it doesn't, we'll have a lot of fun marketing it as something that it is, but it isn't allowed to be.

Drew (00:34:41):
Yes. The Renegade version. So, and, and it's funny to watch this going on in Ireland. This shows you how fast the whiskey industry is growing right now, because in the United States, we're going through the same thing with American single malt. And there's consensus amongst many of, of course we got a lot more distillers, you know, 2000 plus distilleries across the country and you know, of course not all making American single malt, but the, the ones that are making American single malt all are gonna have kind of their own thing that they would like to probably inject into the standard. But there seems to be a consensus amongst most, with just a couple outliers. The trouble is just getting it through the process and getting the word that yes, it's done and now we can move forward on it. It seems, seems like it takes forever.

James (00:35:38):
It, it's, Well, I think the, the, the trouble with, and, and it's not say that's probably the wrong way to start the answer, but but government bodies by definition of risk averse and they have to consult and the number of bodies and things that they have to consult. So, so one thing is one thing, getting alignment in the industry, but then you have to go out and consult and make sure that every stakeholder and interestingly, very often not including the consumer, but every other stakeholder gets consulted and you get views coming in from, you know, left field and that, that maybe don't chime with what everybody else is thinking. And so you end up with the whole process getting slowed down. And, and, and I think the, the key bit is getting the principles right. So agree on the big things, get broad agreement on that and get everybody aligned around that.

And then get into the sort of technical stuff at a level below that because it, or, you know, which, which comes to when it's, when it's being implemented and inspected. Because if you do it all in that top line document, you can create, you know, just a behemoth that you can never really, it's just, you know, it has arms and legs everywhere and you just really can't get a grip on it. And, and everyone then has a view on every single detail. So it's kind of a challenge. I I, I don't end the, any of those kind of bodies that are trying to pull those things together, but, and, and they can't actively work, they can't physically work fast enough

Drew (00:37:10):

James (00:37:10):
To keep up with the kind of innovative minds that are, you know, and, and some of our innovative minds are driven by cash. You know, we're just, you've gotta drive, you know, you're trying to drive your business forward all the time. You haven't got time to, you know, to sit there and wait, you know, So we, we kind of test learn, you know, refine and do it again and test, learn, refine. They don't have that luxury. Cause it's, you know, it's something like a GI in the Europe is going to go through 27 different countries and get agreement with that. And and you know, I guess with the US you've got the TTB and it's got an agreement across the states and all the distilling bodies and yeah, it's not a, it's not a game. I want to play

Drew (00:37:48):
<Laugh>, just let it happen and we'll fit in where we can. So let's talk about about Pete whiskey and or we call it peed. Do you have a term for it? You wouldn't call it turf the whiskey, would you?

James (00:38:04):
I wouldn't use turf, but I know guys that do, and actually so I think we don't really refer to Pete as a thing here. So, so we would talk about turf, you go turf, you know, we're going up to the bog to cut turf. You don't talk about going up to cut Pete. Yeah. it's, it is the same thing, but we would talk about turf. And for me, I tend to try and focus on the output rather than the input. So turf is an input, and the output is the smoky flavor it gives us. Okay. And so I like to refer to sort of smokey levels of smokiness and styles of smoke. You know, we, we produce kind of heavily smoked, you know, Irish whiskey and in the, in the Silkies we kind of take you on a journey from light, you know, from an introduction to smoke to something quite, you know, a little bit more challenging like the midnight that we'll have a go at later.

So, but I think it's I think the Scottish, the Scott guys have been so good about sort of owning Pete and then this kind of very narrow definition of, you know, all scotch is is double distilled and peed and all Irish is triple distilled and unpeated. Right. And, and neither of those things are true, you know, so, you know, you, you, anytime someone says it to me, I kind of go, Okay, here we go. Yeah. You know, double distilled in Scotland in the main, but not always. And Irish triple distilled in the main, but not always. And, and actually the thing that amazes me about Pete in terms of Scottish whiskey is I think it only accounts for 15% of the total category. And, and yet it kind of dominates the thinking. And for us, the idea was that, you know, we don't even need to be 15% of the category of Irish whiskey to be successful, you know? Yeah. You know, so, you know, even if we were one or 2% that would be beyond our wildest dreams. And, and if you, if you kind of hold that, the idea of smokey Irish whiskey would have the same kind of strength of idea as as petered scotch, then that's a kind of highly distinctive place, very true to what Donegal would've been, and a, a place where we could build a sustainable, robust business that would create opportunity in this area for a long, long, long time.

Drew (00:40:13):
I think what's fascinating is I dig in and do my research on Ireland and try to tell the story of, of Irish whiskey and its history is the ties between Ster and Donny gal, along with the western aisles of, of Scotland and the Kintyre Peninsula. There's so interwoven there was so much trade going on. Dorado was the original name for the, for the area, the kingdom that was basically on both sides. It was Scotland and it was Ireland. And the personalities our, I mean, it's funny, when I was in Northern Ireland at times you, you almost feel like you're in a a Scottish kind of a atmosphere. It's not it's not that far different. And what's interesting too is when I was doing my research on the spelling of the word whiskey, I found that ster was an area that's spelled without an E. Whereas the rest of Ireland spelled with an E. So the idea being that even in that way, they kind of leaned more in with their brothers from Scotland than they did with the rest of Ireland.

James (00:41:35):
I, and also we're probably a bit more contrarian. There's a great word used around here. I know it's used up in the sort of lens of antram as well, which is Fran, you know, we're sort of stubborn and and again, don't like to be told what to do. And you know, the, the e I think is, is almost used interchangeably. I mean, you probably know better than me. And I think it's the, for me, it's, it's not important. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> is where I come out on it. So I, I really, I know for some people it's, I see, I can see on like Facebook when, when we release something and you know, ours will have an E so we don't get I don't get beaten up for not using an E <laugh>,

Drew (00:42:16):

James (00:42:17):
You see something come out from some, from a distillery that just says, Whiskey with a Y, and it's like, well, no, it's got no E so it's not Irish. And then, then we produce ours and you say, Look, it's a s smokey Irish whiskey, so it's smokey, it's scotch. And it's like, okay. And you get, you know, there's kind of, for me, could we, I think it's interchangeable from, and from our perspective, it's not an important for us, it's not an important conversation. I know for other guys it is. Yeah. And, and that's fine. That if, if it's important to them, then they should fight for it. But it is an important for me, and so for, it's for us, it's easier to anchor. We're already contrary when it comes to and, and sort of a little bit of odds with the category because of what we make. Yeah. So, you know, me making, you know, then rooting ourselves in, in something that's perceived as being outside the category even further is probably not helpful. So it, it, it's a kind of slightly more logical, kind of practical decision for us, which is, it's not important, it's not an important fight for us. I'm not gonna die in a ditch over an E. So you know, we use it, but we challenge the category in other ways.

Drew (00:43:25):
Well, and that was an interesting conversation I had with Peter Mul Ryan, because at Blackwater, he was on the fence. He wasn't sure whether he was gonna do the E or not do the E He went without the e and I, and it, but as we were talking about it, he said, The only reason why I hedge against not having that E in there is because I want the conversation to be about the whiskey, not about the E. And I totally understand that. That actually was the thing that made me go, Okay, I need to stop obsessing over this letter. If you go to Scotland, they, they do obsess over it, and they will, you know, make it a point, but it's actually written into their laws that it has to be spelled without an E. So I, yeah, I think that's part of the defensiveness on it, is that, hey, you know, by law, you, you shouldn't be spelling it that way.

James (00:44:20):
It, it's interesting. I think also the, the, the, the, the category in of Ireland is, in Irish whiskey is growing so fast that the, the kind of focus, particularly for sort of the IWA that's protecting, you know, kind of chronic free up markets and open markets and things like that, the, the, the whole focus is less about control, I think, and about it is more about opportunity. Whereas the SWA has such a big prize, you know, SW whiskeys is such an enormous prize that it's very easy for people to tap into and, and just take a little chunk of it. And, and so Thewas is very, very draconian in its approach, and it's, and it's thinking because it has such big stakeholders that, you know, the, the, it suits it, you know, it suits them to have the, the rules set up in that way because it makes it it increases kind of cost of entry. It makes it easier to defend, It makes it, you know, it, it, so it's a much more defensive position rather than a more of an opportunity focused position, which I think is where Irish whiskey has the luxury of being currently. Yeah.

Drew (00:45:30):
Let's talk about petered whiskey and the perception you've had. You've only been doing tours here for a couple of months. So you're kind of getting that first wave of people coming through are normally when you go to when you go to distilleries that have a smokey, they usually have a non smoky option as well. You guys are not doing that, which there is that opinion already that Irish whiskey is not supposed to be peed, that people are coming across with that idea. And so have you, have you had to kind of walk people into ex you know, understanding smokey whiskey and how to approach it, that sort of thing?

James (00:46:18):
Yeah, I think what we've done is, I suppose actually our story's probably easier because we only do one thing. So it, it's very easy for us. It's a straightforward conversations. It says, you know, the minute you walk through the door of the distillery, it smells smoking <laugh>. It's as simple as that. It was, you know, you, you walk into reception and you can already smell it. And it's like, you know, we're not, we don't have, you know, like I say, great northern where they maybe make a month's work for Peter Whiskey and then they, then they spend probably nine months trying to get rid of the smell for the rest of the whiskey. I dunno. But you know, for us, it is what it is. That is the smell of the area. It is what we love. And the challenge that we've had is the first one you get is that it isn't that scotch.

And it's like, well, no, it's, this is absolutely true to the Ulster style and Greater Alster. So Alster, including Donny, go Karn, Monahan, you know, the whole of Ulster, not, not Northern Island mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, but the, you know, really if you look at the history of Irish whiskey, malt whiskey was produced in the north and pot still was very much of the south, you know, and, and, and when I say south, I mean anything other than alster <laugh>. And that's so, so what we're doing is saying actually, you know, you are just, you know, this is what it was, and we are bringing it back. And people go, Okay, I get that. And they, they were happy to play with you. Then you walk into the main distillery bit and it's, it smells, you get that Pete smoke smell, it's, it's all around you.

I mean, there's, there's all of the kind of distillery smells you would normally get, but it's a, it's kind of amped up with this kind of Pete smoke piece. What we then do is show them the multi multi barley that's not unpeated and peed and say, Well, this is, this is a taste of a city. And they kind of get it, and you, it smells like wheatabix. And then you give them the petered stuff and you kind of go, Look, this smells like you're sitting beside the fire with my granddad and he's smoking his pipe. And they all kind of go, I get it. All right. I, I know. And they're there. So the, the, the next challenge we have is that their perception of smokey whiskeys is, is driven by Isla. And they say, Well, I don't like Islas. And you kind of go, That's fine.

We have a completely different set of cuts that mean we have a dry, smokey, sweet pipe, tobacco, smoke aroma. It's kind of ashy camp fiery. And it's all together more welcoming and more approachable. And when we get downstairs to the tasting, we're able to demonstrate that and we can demonstrate it in the new make, we can demonstrate it in the silkies, the, you know, the blends that we produce that, that already tell you that story. And I think there's a, there is a kind of hunger for, you know, the moment that the world is still, there's still in a kind of discovery phrase, even though it feels a little bit un insecure at the moment. But there is this kind of people looking for new things, looking for new tastes, exploring, wanting to discover. And when you're saying, you know, here's something to discover, it's, it's historically authentic and, and it's, you know, and not only that it tastes divine, then you're kind of, it's not the hardest sell, if I'm honest. Yeah. So the, the challenge is getting people past the

Drew (00:49:24):
Iodine kind of medicinal kind of experience that you get out of an is kind.

James (00:49:31):
We could make you that. Yeah. You know, so if you go, you know, if you're on the, you know, if you taste at the intermediate still, and if you taste on the spirit, still, we could cut way lower and create an, you know, I could make you an Isla style if you wanted, you know, we, we cut be sort of 82 to 70 on the single wall and, and and 82 to 67 on the, on the pot still. And you know, we could make, if we went beyond 67 and a half, we get down into those Id, wed kind of taste, But, you know, we choose not to. And, and, and that, that's the thing. It's just a choice, you know? Yeah. Well and you know, so, and it's gone down well so far.

Drew (00:50:10):
It's interesting to me that as I've tried to introduce people to smokey whiskeys, the ones that I do from Scotland, one is in Ila which is ro clade, they actually get their their malting and they're the malting is done in Inverness, so it actually has a little bit more of a foresty kind of a Yeah. Autumn kind of a Yeah. And people are much more accepting of that, I think. Yeah. and

James (00:50:42):
I think it's, it's one of those things as well that, you know, the more there's, there's a certain amount of, you know, if you, if if I bracket whiskey into kind of, there's the, you either, you know, there's a almost a snobbery that goes around, Have you made it to e yet, you know, in, in taste terms, you don't have to physically make it there. And, and if you haven't, you kind of get that, ah, bless, you know, tap you on the head, nevermind, you'll get there in the end kind of thing. And, and that, that's a really useful angle in terms of talking about smokey whiskeys as an interesting space. But it's, it, it doesn't need to be that hard. And actually the worst thing is if you, if you, if your first experience of, of a smokey whiskey is, is a, is a kind of sort of that carbol soap, Isla type, you know, taste or, or that heavily iod, it's, you know, tastes like a sticking plaster.

And I love Isla, so don't, don't think I'm being nasty about it, but it does have that kind of aela pla sticking plaster smell. If that's your first experience of it, and you're quite new to the whiskey world and you haven't really explored kind of places where there, there's, there's as much challenge. It's just not that sort of challenge. Then you, you kind of immediately kind of draw a line, you know, you kind of go, So, you know, not, that's not for me, it's just like, you know, I do tequila, but I don't do mecal <laugh>. And it's, it's like, no, you know, you just haven't found the right one yet. And I think that's the thing is trying to help people, give them the confidence to come and play with you, and then play in a space, you know, And for us that space is kind of warm, welcoming, rich, but it's challenging. Donal is not an easy place, you know, it's wild. It's, the climate is, is is, you know, pretty hard. And, and people living out, you know, in the area we live, you know, from poor soils, you know, the, the agricultural environment is not strong. So people have to make a go of it and they have to be resourceful and resilient and, and so that needs to come through in what we do.

Drew (00:52:42):
Well, and you are the first distillery that I came across. There are probably others now, but you are the first one that I came across that was doing pot still and peed. Which I fell in love with the pot still style. And I've been promoting it wherever I can because to me, I think it's Ireland's secret weapon that it is just a style that if you are into that, that grain flavor and that, that peppery note that comes in on the end. Yeah. And now we're gonna infuse this in with this you know, with Pete very, very interesting and very bold whiskey. I mean, it's just very nice body to the whiskeys. And so had you, cuz you said that pots stills really more of a Southern style. What brought you into the idea of, of doing a pots still up there?

James (00:53:35):
I think what brought us into the style is, is exactly what you just said. You know, it, it is island secret weapon. You know, for me, the, the fact that that there is an indigenous style that is unique to Ireland, I'm, I'm not sure if I'm honest, that the word pot still is the most helpful in terms like, single mall tells you what it is. Yeah. Pot still tells you it's made in a pot. It doesn't really, you know, So I think there's a language piece that has to be solved and and, and there's a lack of availability of the kind of wider styles that kind of brings people in. And, and it's at the moment, because of its rarity pot still is, is still ferociously expensive in the main and not, you know, not widely understood. And I think, so I, I was convinced that we should be doing it because it's, it's the right thing to do.

I mean, our production is probably 70% single malt, 30% pot still. And, and that's probably a reflection of how big the opportunity is. You know, single malt is seen as the pinnacle of whiskey making and, you know, it, it's, it's, it's that virtuoso, you know, instrumentally being played to the best it can be. That's, that's what it is. And that's widely understood. In Asia it's particularly well understood. So, So from a, from a just a naked commercial proposition, you've gotta do it. Yeah. You know, that's so, you know, from a business perspective, it's that it, it's a play that you've gotta play the now there are distilleries that haven't and that, but that's, that's brave in my view. That's really courageous. The, the then, but then you come back to, well, what is Irish? You know, what is synonymous with Ireland? And, and actually pot still is, is uni, you know, unique.

Well, it is distinct. The, the very little in the world that's unique. Yeah. <laugh>. Yeah. So, so it is, you know, it is distinctive, it is rooted in place. And a pot still from Donny go would be, you know, for me is a, is a, is an interesting thing that we should be trying to develop. My challenge is can the category grow fast enough mm-hmm. <Affirmative> for, for it to become a more, I wanna say mainstream. I, I don't mean mainstream as in pricing, but I mean, it becomes a more widely accepted kind of concept and language within the whiskey world because I just don't think it's there at the moment.

Drew (00:55:56):
Well, I, I'll tell you for my own experience, I was did an interview not probably about six months, eight months ago before I got in and really started to understand what Potstill whiskey was because I have to say I am new to Irish whiskey. The Irish whiskey that I drank I didn't really like so much, which were some of the more popular brands that I'm just like, I, I'm not really getting this. And it was part of my, my idea of going to Ireland and going to all these different distilleries to learn because I, I had the same thing with bourbon. When I went across bourbon country and went to the different distilleries, suddenly bourbon made sense to me. It's like, I know what this is, I know where it comes from, I have a better understanding of it. And I was doing a interview with a brand outta Chattanooga, Tennessee called j w Kelly.

And he came, okay, he came from Waterford and they were one of the largest distilleries in Tennessee, if not the largest distillery in Tennessee in the 19th century. And so this woman's doing this research, she's digging through all of the different information. And she sent me, she said, she said, we cuz she was trying to write her Wikipedia page about, about them. And one of the things said that they were the biggest pots still whiskey distiller in Tennessee. And so she, okay. And so she saw the pictures that showed a pots still, and so the connection was made and she said, or, or it was the only pot still whiskey distillery in Tennessee. Now this is the 19th century and there's no way with the amount of distillers that were in Tennessee at that time, that they were the only pot still distillery.

I'm going, that doesn't make sense to me. And it wasn't until I put two and two together and said, came from Waterford, he's making pure pots still. Now all of a sudden that word pure is standing out to me and I'm going, Oh, he's talk, he's talking about a style. He's not talking about what he's making it in. So you're right. I mean, that is a real challenge even to somebody like me who is digging into the history. I saw, you know, somebody had to point out that red breast is pot still style whiskey. And and I think what people don't understand about pot still, and correct me if I'm wrong on this, but I, I get this feeling like 12 year old red breast might not be the best version of red breast. In other words, if if they didn't age it quite that long, it might be actually even more interesting because the longer it sits in that cast, the more it's taking on the wood characters and kind of flattening the whiskey out. Yeah. Versus if it, it could be much more robust in a earlier age.

James (00:58:55):
And, and partly I kind of wonder whether that's a result of, you know, big companies having to manage portfolios. Yeah. You know, if you've, if you've got multiple brands, you know, it's, you, you look at DIO and you know, you look at all of those distilleries, well, they can only have so many classic wars. They can't really do everything everywhere. And so they're forced to make choices. And if you look at the way idl kind of run, run their portfolio, you know, it's quite clear they all have very sort of definitive roles within there. And, you know, for me, Powers, which is, you know, largely pot stores also got kind of, you know, its identity is, is probably the least well defined of, of those great brands that they, they have in that house. And so I think the challenge is that the, the sort of growth of Jameson has been, you know, is, is really is is a machine that has kind of, and as you know, that super tanker that's kind of developed a swirl in Irish whiskey, which is amazing.

The other, the other brands kind of have remarkable, like Red Breast is kind of held in remarkable esteem. You know, it's, it's, you know, it's like a macallen of Yeah. You know, or a Spring Bank of of the Irish world. And, but it's kind of also not, it doesn't have to be as much, or it hasn't had to be as well defined because, because it is so distinct within the portfolio as it sits at the moment. But, but that probably means that it's, has it maxed out its opportunity? I'm not sure. I don't, you know, I think you could do more with it and you could do different things with it. But then you're competing for resources within a Yeah. A much bigger portfolio. And that's a kind of different conversation. I,

Drew (01:00:36):
I was wondering too if maybe the reason why they landed on 12 years was to be seen as premium and to compete in the scotch world. And is that, you know, I mean I talked on this podcast with John Campbell who was at Lefroy and Lefroy 10 is their flagship. But as I talked to him as he's working at his new distillery, I said, What's your favorite age for Lefroy? And he said, eight year. He said, It's just, it's just right on the spot where it needs to be. But there's this perception that a scotch can't be really good unless it's had 12 years in a barrel

James (01:01:19):
In a barrel. No, definitely. And, and I mean, if you look at our the way we've modeled our, our business, you know, we've modeled it accurately for sort of 10 years and then sort of mo bit more loosely for the next 10. You know, I see the pot still at eight years when being, when it's at its signature style. So that's, so I'm with you. The, I mean the, the, the challenge is Johnny Walker 12 as kind of, you know, the Johnny Walker Black has established 12 years old as the, as the definitive age for sort of premium you know, what, what should be a sort of premium category that I was at Glen Fiig, you know, for years I spent, you know, long time with William Broughton's sons and, and b you know, I was there when B 10, the Founders Reserve was obsoleted and, and B any 10 was a lovely whiskey.

And in, you know, it's the biggest, sort of, the biggest single more markets for us were the US and the US was a 12 year old market. That was, that was the kind of way it was played, you know, So it was like, no, if you're not 12 year old, you know, one, So the 10 year old kind of, of was pulled I think it, I don't even know if it's still in the uk, but it was in the UK for a little while afterwards because the UK was definitely 10 was the standard, the, the sort of single malt standard age. But 12 has kind of become throughout the emerging markets, that's the age that everyone associates with things almost coming of age, you know, or coming of luxury. Yeah,

Drew (01:02:42):
Absolutely. Somehow.

James (01:02:44):
Absolutely. Yeah. So it's, it's a tough one because it, it certainly isn't in my view. It certainly isn't where, where some whiskeys are at the best for sure. And and certainly I kind of think that, as I said, the pot still will be ready, our signature pot still style will be ready and it'll be a blender between five and eight year old whiskeys in there. That's, that's kind of how I see it. And, and actually the silkies, we, we try and get balance and softness and we get that from whiskeys that are, you know, three to four years old. These are not old whiskeys that we're using. Partly because in Irish whiskey, if you use old variants, you know, old, older liquids, they are harder to source, they're harder to get. The quality can be variable, you know, So it's kind of a challenge to find the right components, whereas this way we've kind of elected to go this route because it allows us to get consistency of supply and allows us to, to create the flavors the way we want them to be.

Drew (01:03:43):
Yeah. And so this is we're gonna do a tasting of the midnight silky, but before we jump into doing that we lost somebody this a, a few weakest or so ago who we, we talk about this whiskey is being sourced from Great Northern, and before we, we chatted before on our talk a few weeks ago you know, we were talking about the importance of Brian Watts and what he has brought to the Irish whiskey industry, and he sadly passed away not too long ago. Can you can you kinda give me your, your feelings about cuz I know he, he was working very closely with you in, in trying to get silky put together and kind of the relationship you had?

James (01:04:34):
Absolutely. Well, I've known I knew Brian, so since 1998 actually, so he was a gervin, the Glen Fi, sorry, not Glen, but the William Grant's big grain plant when, when I joined Grants years and years ago. And, and we kind of went our separate ways and then came back together in 20 2019 to sort of work on, on Silky and blending Silky together. And he, Brian he was only 60 when he died, which is just too young for anyone to go, frankly. And, but he, he's a, he was an, a remarkable character in terms of his generosity of spirit, which is and his generosity of insight was willing to spend time and share and, and helped you know, he helped put blends together for lots of people. Now there, there are some people who just wanted him to create a blend for them and then they kind of rubber stamp it.

And he was absolutely, you know, could do that front and center. He was also looking at different styles, so he was making different things, finishing different things, you know, And, and for us, as someone who kind of wants to build our own blend but needs, you know, needs access to these things, it was amazing. He just opened the lab up and leave me playing with it, you know, with 22, maybe, maybe even more whiskeys than that, just on a big, you know, all the way around the lab. And he would leave me there for a couple of hours and then come back and say, Right James, where we got to, and, and you know, we get the structure, I can get the structures right and I can get the balance pretty close. But he always had this really deaf touch for just that little bit of something that just set it off, lets you get that kind of the little shine that you needed on it or just took that little spike away.

And, and he was brilliant and about, you know, I'd come, we'd kind of get things as good as we could get them. And then you'd, you'd come back sort of three months later and say, you know, we did that Brian, he's got a bit of a spike here, mate, I'm not sure about this. And, and then we'd go, you know, we'd work again. So he was you know, his fingerprints on a lot of whiskeys out there at the moment. And and his team, the team he built at Great Northern, you know, that will continue on, you know, it's a young, talented team. So his legacy is really, really big, you know, really heavy. And, you know, he wouldn't have said that himself cuz he was just far too modest and just getting him into a photo was a, was, you know, he wasn't, he wasn't big on study there and having his photo taken, he was, it wasn't one of those kind of celebrity distillery managers, but, but he's, he's no less for, for, for being the quieter, the quieter man. And, and the industry owes him, you know, a big debt of gratitude and and John Teling for bringing him in. You know, John had the vision to build that great northern business, which is a, you know, a powerhouse engine for the bus, for the, the industry. But it took, you know, it took us someone like a, a Brian to be that catalyst for a lot of those brands.

Drew (01:07:27):
Yeah. I only got a chance to meet him one time, but I can tell you he left an impression on me and I talked about him everywhere I went cuz I knew everybody on the island knew him anyway, because so many people had, had dealt with him how many distilleries I visited that their you know, some, some portion of their whiskey may have been sourced from their or a handful of other distilleries. And he what was interesting about our day was that it started out and we clicked on the Scotland thing right away because, you know, I had been to scotch whiskey distilleries, this was one of the first Irish whiskey distilleries I'd been to. And I suddenly felt at home, he was like a bridge between the scotch whiskey industry to the Irish whiskey. It's like he could translate things for me so that I could get more comfortable with what Irish whiskey was.

And then I mentioned that I enjoyed rye whiskeys and his eyes lit up and he went over and immediately grabbed a bottle of something that he had been working on for, for somebody that was a rye and Sherry finished whiskey. And I, you know, I tasted it, we're sitting there talking about it. I'm like, Wow. I mean, I just love the inventiveness of this. And he said, You know, that's what I'd love to do. And then took me down into the blending lab and was just trying to wow me with different things, you know, I say, What do you like? And I go, Well, you know, I, I had that Jameson's Cas finish. I thought the Stout version, I, I was kind of disappointed in it. It was like I wanted something a little bit more out of it. And he goes oh, here, let me blend you up something. And he, he blends something up and it's like I said, this is like campfire marshmallows, but also has, and that chocolate and the things that you expect kind of out of a stout were coming through on it. Yeah. I'm like, okay, you, you definitely know what you're doing. And has had such a passion for it.

James (01:09:32):
No, he did. And, and he, he was just brilliant. And as I say, for me, it, it's that kind of generosity of spirit, kind of reflective of, you know, that's not often, it's not common and, you know, to find it, you know, and to, to be welcomed no matter how painful, you know, we were being, he, he always had that patience and and then, and the kind of good goodwill to kind of work it through. And, and as you say, you know, he made, he was making it with lots and lots of different styles of whiskey. I mean, the interesting thing I think as well is, you know, he brings a, he brought a Scottish approach to distilling. So there's a very specific idea about how you make triple distilled in Ireland, and it's not the same in Scotland. Mm-Hmm. So there's a difference in terms of how you make, to get to that lighter style that involves a different use of sort of spirits different use in terms of the way you move spirit from each still to the next in a, in a triple distilling piece.

Now we ra run very similar to way Brian would, which, which probably reflects my kind of experience in Scotland and, and Graham's experience in Scotland. So we have a balanced, you know, a balanced system and, and so does Great Northern, but whereas if you were at voicemails, they make a slightly different way, a style and way of doing it, and that creates a higher ABV and that spirit's on a lighter style, which is, you know, which is fine, you know, each to their own. Yeah. But one of the things I think was really useful to us was as well, was it kind of verified some of the things we were thinking of doing. And Brian, you could phone him up at any time and just say, I'm looking at this. He'd also, you could phone him up and say, I've just done this. And he would say, I'll just send me down a sample. I'll put it through the, the GC machine and you know, I'll, I can send you the readings. And so, you know, that kind of you know, it's uncommon to find that kind of generos. Yeah. And, and it he'll be remembered fondly for a long, long time

Drew (01:11:36):
Because of it. Well, I heard you pouring a glass. We'll just raise a glass to him. How about that? Yeah. there we go. So talk a little bit about about Silky and first of all the name, where does the name come from?

James (01:11:50):
So the, the silky or silky legend is the, the mermaid legend of the West Coast of Ireland. And so there she is, ah it was brought to us by the Vikings. So it's, it's potentially, it's not an original one from here, but Donny Goul, the world word, Donny Goul, actually, if you'd go back to the Irish, is Dal, which means the for of the stranger or the land of the stranger. And that's because as an area, it was settled by ish, by by Vikings by, we have a Spanish influence as well as the kelts. So, so it's an interesting kind of place in that sense. But the little mermaid or the mermaid legend comes down the west coast of Scotland and Kelps mm-hmm. <Affirmative> who lu you to the rocks onto to your death, which is not very nice.

But then in, in Ireland we have Silkies or Silky, and they lure you to fishing grounds, but they, they come ashore as there's, it's a seal who comes ashore. She sheds her seal coat and becomes a beautiful woman, falls in love with the fishermen, has a family before the call of the sea becomes too much. And, and she has to go back. And if you go out in a fishing boat around here now, they still, if a seal follows you, it's believed to be good luck because the, the silkies are looking after you. Interestingly, if you go all the way to Nova Scotia, the same legend exists. Wow. So they, they have silkies or Silkies over there. So that's why it's, it's a the silky name is on there and it's a nice play on words, which kind of absolutely a happy

Drew (01:13:18):
Accent. Yeah. Cause I, so I was sort of thinking, was that what we were talking, because I've had petered whiskeys that are that are silky on the palette.

James (01:13:27):
Yeah. And, and I suppose we don't look for silky per, per se. I, I have a, a particular fashion that I love, or particular thing I love, which is soft drinking hard spirits. I love drinks that are soft on the tongue. So I don't like to feel when you're drinking and tasting, I, I don't like to feel it on the outside of my tongue. I don't like that steely flinty kind of texture that you get a kind of hardness if you like, which is and you know, when you see guys drinking a beer in a chaser and they, and they kind of drink a bit of their beer and then they knock the chaser back, and then they, they get that shutter and that that shutter leaves me cold, but that shutter is what they want. And I, I don't like that. So we don't, we specifically blend to have this kind of, so you should get it the front of your tongue and then sort of almost like a blanket down the middle of your tongue rather than on the outside. So that's a softness that we look for, which I guess you could call silky if you wanted to play with.

Drew (01:14:21):
Yeah. I, for me, mouth feel is one of the things that really sta it's the reason why I don't really put ice in my glass. I just got, so it's like one piece that is completely missing if I do that. In fact, the only thing, Okay, the only thing I usually ice down would be maybe a cast strength bourbon or something that is mm-hmm. <Affirmative> going to be aggressive on the tongue. And I feel like maybe I'll you know, or if it's summertime and I just feel like icing something down, I, I like to say I started out my whiskey journey, my return to my whiskey journey by drinking Macallen 12 on ice, which likely probably annoys a lot of Scottish people <laugh>. But that was, that was that was all the only way I really could handle it early on. It helped me walk, walk me into the flavor watered down as it was. But then once I discovered mouth feel, boy it's like, I don't want to give that up.

James (01:15:18):
Yeah. I think the interesting about sort of McAllen sort of late nineties was really sweet. I mean, it was very, very much sweeter than I think it is today. And, and I think ice would've just knocked the edge of that sweetness as well. You know, I personally, I drink it all of my, if I'm drinking for pleasure, I drink with ice, but lots of ice, I don't want it to dilute. I just want it cooled down. And if I'm honest, I think the silkies are probably a little bit sweeter than they need to be, but that's because we drink them with ice. And so if you, you that ice just knocks down that sweetness, just a fraction and allows you to do things with it. But, you know, I have I suppose my reaction to, you know, drink it however you like. I really don't like for me, in fact, it's not that I don't mind, I don't care. I just want you to enjoy it and come back and buy another <laugh>. Very

Drew (01:16:06):
Nice. Very

James (01:16:07):
Nice. So

Drew (01:16:08):
That's the commercial side of you coming out.

James (01:16:10):
Well, I know commercial side of this is we have, we have good mouth feel because we've bottled at 46%, so we don't chill filter. And I'd love to tell you there's some honorable decision behind that. But it's, you know, a chill filtration unit's, a lot of money. So we don't have one <laugh>. Okay.

Drew (01:16:26):
So that

James (01:16:27):
Works. We, we've bottled at 46, but actually what we love is that mouth feel that texture and they're all natural color, all the silkies. So they're all natural color nons chill filter. This, the midnight silky, which you've got there is the smokiest in the rain. So they're jo it's like a journey in smoke. They're all, all the range is, three of them explore different ideas of smoke. And the silky, the midnight silky is called the such cuz it was a, it's really the one for the end of the evening that kind of richness. 35% of the blend is peed. So triple distill heavily peed great northern single mal. The structure, the kind of sweetness in the backbone of it is created by Kavanaugh Soor casks, unpeated and imperial style o oatmeal imperial stout casks, which okay. I was hoping would give us kind of a chocolatey taste, but I think they give you more sort of creamy mouth feel. So

Drew (01:17:23):
Yeah. So I get a lot of I get a lot of the like para note comes through and the, the orchard fruit little bit of oak. But the thing I had the most trouble with in terms of, of nosing this was, and, and you can see by the bottle that I have experimented a bit with this since, because I haven't

James (01:17:42):
Been shy.

Drew (01:17:44):
I kept trying to figure out what, how do I define this smoky character that's coming out? And the best I could say was that it was like an earthy peppery smoke.

James (01:17:54):
Okay. Yeah. So like the earthiness I definitely get, I think it's a little bit meaty. It's got a earthiness, which is a bit camp farish, so it's a little bit barbecue almost.

Drew (01:18:04):
Yeah. But I get that hint of like a black pepper that just is like, it just blends with the smoke. It's a, it's a character in the smoke that and it's not that I've ever been around and this is why I had a hard time saying it because I'm thinking, Well, where the heck do you ever have peppery smoke? I've, that's not something that but it's just kind of a, a, a blending of those two sense. Yeah. Into one thing, which is interesting to me.

James (01:18:31):
I think Tasca has a, a kind of pink pepper corn kind of in its smoke, you know, for me anyway. But you get a kind of apple note on all of our on all of the silkies. And so, you know, for me there's, for this one, it's, it's almost like a toffy apple, you know, coming into Halloween. So it's quite high, highly appropriate. But that red toffee and then you crunch through into the freshness of the apple inside, it's kind of, I get that. And then it's got that kind of straw like biscuit to it. Mm. And then there's a, there's sort of those Christmas spices, so a bit like sort of figs and sort of raisins cooked in butter kind of thing. That, that kind of, when you're preparing a Christmas cake, I I get, I get that out of it. So

Drew (01:19:17):
It's interesting on the palette that it I get what you're saying about the, the creaminess because it's almost like after you drink a a Guinness and it's that first sip of the Guinness and you got a lot of the head of the, of the beer that it kind of coats your tongue. And that's kind of the experience that I get out of it. I also do get a, like a dark chocolate note that just lays on the top of my palette. It's not overly out front, but the, I think, I think the reason that it kind of hides is because that, that toffy and smoke Yeah. Grabs your attention, The sweetness of that grabs your attention initially. And I think it throws you off from what would be kind of a more of a bitter dark chocolate note, but it's not necessarily highly bitter. It's, it's just a touch. No,

James (01:20:11):
I get that. I get what you're saying. Yeah. Interesting. I hadn't now that you've suggested chocolate, I'm getting chocolate, but <laugh>

Drew (01:20:20):
But that's the, that's the fun of hearing other people talk and all of a sudden it's, it's awareness. I, it's, I used to go, I don't want to tell people, I don't wanna put things in their head but with people who have good palettes and you know, it's fun to talk about those things and throw them out there and have somebody go, Oh wow, you know, I didn't make that cuz like butter scotch is one of those notes that I never really define until somebody points it out. And then I go, Oh yeah, that's, that's in there.

James (01:20:50):
And, and interestingly, the the original, the legendary silky, the first one in the range, I, I mean I used to call it butterscotch, but I, I describe it as buttered popcorn now because I think people find that image quicker than butterscotch because it's not, butterscotch is almost like an old fashioned taste somehow <laugh>. Yeah. So and, and, and I think a little bit of water just opens this up as well. And gives you, you know, allows you to get into those, those characters. It's better if it warms, you know, And I know if I was writing tasting notes, it is a drop of water and, and let it warm up. But but for pleasure it's always gonna be ice and it cause strength. The chocolate definitely comes out, you know, you definitely get it at that, but it's, that's 59% and that's, that's kind of high.

But that, I suppose, I think my personal, my feeling is that the high ABB can be carried because the softness of the spirit allows you to. So even at 60%, Yeah, they drink, but they don't drink spiky. They drink, you know, they drink warm and they drink, you know, you know, you need to put something in it. And I was talking to a guy the other day and, and he reckoned that our whiskeys, that he thinks that they drink really well at sort of 51, 52. And I was like, Yeah, I get that. I know if you get a car strength and you take it down to that, that's, that's really cool. But there isn't, there isn't a business case that makes that work. Yeah. You know, so. Well

Drew (01:22:14):
If you had the bottled in Bond law over there where you had to have it at exactly a hundred proof, then you would, you'd be in on that. You could label it that way.

James (01:22:24):
We, we, we, we, yeah, we don't have that rule, but we did for a long time my mom was actually in doing the helping doing the labeling and so we would, we were tempted at one point to put bottled under parental supervision <laugh> on the back label, but I'm not sure that it had a legal definition. So <laugh>

Drew (01:22:41):
Nice. Yeah.

So, well, let's talk a little bit. Hmm. Let's talk, talk a little bit about the distillery itself and people having the ability to come up and visit. You're right on the main line. I almost and we'll talk about the town as well. Yeah. Because I planned a draw as the, the place that I was going to stay. And then I had you on my map to go to Kerick, which is where you used to be, which is down by by the mountains, the actual sleeve league cliffs. Yeah. And so I was, I was planning all that out. I don't know what, Oh, I know what it was. I went out to the car park where I had parked and I saw what looked like a distillery off in the distance. I, I saw pot stills and I went am I in the wrong place? And then you know, come to find out your Google maps I guess are now corrected, but at one point you were pointing to down in that direction. And

James (01:23:40):
It's funny cuz Google does, you know, I suppose this is one of the challenges with ai, it, it decides where you, you know, where you are based. So even though we had a distillery set up and had a postcode and everything else, it, it decided that our, our head off, well the, the site in Carrick, we had the Gin distillery base there. From 2017 until last year, we moved the gin still down to our draw because of the requirement for space. So so the growth of Silky has meant that we need more space in Carrick for bottling and, and the administration team. So, so we've moved all of our distilling operations to our draw, but the Carrick site is still there. It's just a bottling and administration piece, but Google for for whatever reason decides <laugh> that, so we've, we've renamed everything now.

It should all have updated. But we still get, you know, if someone's coming to visit, I always send them the air code now because if otherwise they go to the wrong site. So if you, if you Google, I think if you go to Apple Maps, it takes you to the old site. If you use Google now it takes you to the new site. So it's yeah, it's one of those frustrations. But, but the site, you know, the Arra distillery is, you know, it's in the village. I mean it really is. Right. You know, you don't often get a site that close to the village, you know, nor normally industrial places tend to be moved out further. So we're very lucky in that sense. And, and with the car park you were sat in, we'll ultimately we haven't got it yet, but we'll ultimately have a pedestrian bridge that will take you from that car park and allow you to walk to the distillery. It's a hundred meters, 120 meters or something. Yeah. So rather than coming and parking at the distillery, which you do at the moment.

Drew (01:25:24):
Yeah. Or walking around if you go to the car park now, you basically walk into town across a bridge and then do you walk down the road or is there a secret little passageway there somewhere?

James (01:25:36):
No, no, you're right. That's exactly what it is. And the road doesn't have a pavement, so it's not it's, it's far from ideal. So at the moment we, we have parking on the site so you can park at the distillery. It is where, you know, once raise the next bit of funding, we'll build a second building there, which we'll have the gins still in it, and a proper visitor center At the moment we use the reception. And what is reception is also now a tasting, tasting room and a shop and reception, which is a bit of a shoe horn in. But you know, that's the nature of startups I guess. So the plans are big. I mean the, the, I suppose the one piece that we're slightly different to a lot of distilleries is we got very little hospitality. So the town of our drives, a festival town is a town of hospitality there, gosh, there's four, five places to eat.

It's a village of like 400, 500 people. And yet you've got four or five restaurants. You've certainly got five pubs four churches one hotel and any god's amount of best, you know, Ben Breakfast and other sort of hostelries. So it's a town that knows how to welcome and how to look after people. So that the philosophy that we have is, you know, we are here to kind of in help people sort of come see a working distillery, have a taste of our products, and then back into the town for if you want a coffee or a sandwich or all of those kind of things. I think we're, I think we're not, Mo and I are definitely not hardwired to do that stuff. And I think if you, if you're gonna do hospitality, you better be good at it. And I don't think that's really our bag. You know, we wanna make exceptional whiskeys and gins. That's our thing. And when you have a town as good as we have on the doorstep than, you know, the, it is much better if we can get you walking outta your car, walking into us, and then walk back to see there's weavers, there's knitters, there's craft people, and there's any god's amount of tea, coffee and, and something stronger if you want it. So

Drew (01:27:30):
Yeah. Well, and like I say, interesting in Donal that two other, the three distilleries are right on the main drive. So it's just a straight shot really to get from one to the next. Boyle lock is a little bit more actually that's a little hairy to drive out there cuz he's got a single track road that has a lot of blind hills, so it's not the easiest place to get out to.

James (01:27:52):
No, and and I mean we are very fortunate that the World Atlantic Way must be one of, you know, the best tourism one of the best tourism type kind of plans, marketing strategies that you've you're not gonna believe this true. I'm just gonna turn this quickly for you. Can you can

Drew (01:28:12):
Uhoh <laugh> my, now this is authentic. We, we have a sheep outside your door.

James (01:28:17):
One of my sheep has escaped <laugh>, He

Drew (01:28:20):
Just, Oh no.

James (01:28:20):
And he's just walked up to the back door and just headbutted it, it

Drew (01:28:24):
<Laugh>. He wants in, he

James (01:28:28):
Wants in, he's decided that as a whiskey tasting and he wants to be part of it. Give

Drew (01:28:31):
Me that silky.

James (01:28:32):
But it's yeah, so the Wild Atlantic way as a, as a concept, I think has been amazing for tourism on the west coast of Ireland. And has really sold the idea of a wild, you know, the wild Atlantic and you know, and it tells a story really well and we're, we are bang on it as you say, crawley's bang on it. You know, carry guard where the guy where, where Boak is lot Yeah. More difficult to get to, but worth the effort and and it's not really a tour. I mean, that's a Right,

Drew (01:29:02):

James (01:29:03):
A go sit with the owner and have a chi and and have a coffee <laugh>. That's a Yeah, exactly. That's a much more personal integrated kind of experience. I think

Drew (01:29:11):
That was really my challenge in, in putting together the book because I said, okay, I have to figure out a dividing line between who is a distillery that you go to visit and they have a standard tour you can book it on online. So that, that ended up being my delineation. I said, Okay, if if you can book online, then I will put a two page profile in for you. If you can't then, And this ended up being the 24 distilleries. Yeah. You know, so he's, he's in there but he's in there with a description of who he is. But since there's no way to really book online, it just kinda tells you, you know, how to get in touch with him if he wants to stop by and visit. And those kinds of distilleries kill Owens the same, I I say he is he is basically the Irish or the Ireland version of you know, what, what Brendan is doing there at Kalo. It's just, you're in a shed and you're kind of making some really interesting stuff.

James (01:30:11):
Yeah. And, and I think it's, it's the difference between a visit. So, you know, there's a visit to a working distillery and there's a visit to Michael cause that's what you, that's what it is. You know, he happens to be in a working distillery, but it, it it's you, you're visiting him. You know, my, my cousin here has a hostel and if I'm honest, you know, you look at all the feedback, it's not about the hostile, it's about Sean. And that's, and I think that's that kind of delineation. And we, we actually can't, you can't book online at the moment, but I've got a call on Monday with the software providers, so we will have online booking and stuff like that. Surely so. But I can imagine for you, you know, there's understanding, there's, you know, cuz there's, there's the kind of full on like tos experience there. New experience. Wow. Yeah. That's, that's massive. And it's kind of, I dunno how you do it in terms of a book trying to put it together. So I'll wait, I'll I'll know soon cuz you'll have done it

Drew (01:31:10):
<Laugh>. Yeah. It was a challenge, but it was a fun challenge. So and, and part of the reason why I want to actually physically go to the distilleries because that, that helps. But I mean the idea is this is kind of opening up because with, because Irish whiskey is just now opening up. So this book was, Do I want to wait three years to wait till everybody is up and running and, and got their sea legs under them? Or do I want to give people a peak into what this thing is that's developing right now? And I mean, to me the fun of traveling around Ireland was the, the opportunity, I'm gonna put this into a into an analogy when I like going down to watch spring training baseball in Florida. Okay. The reason I like going down to spring training baseball in Florida is because you get a chance to see the guys practicing.

It's the early part of it's preseason. Preseason. Okay. That, you know, they're not really they're just stretching. They're going out hitting balls and just trying to get in shape for the season. And I like to go to the early part of that. And the reason I like going to the early part of that is because the baseball players have been away from the game for all winter mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and they're excited to see fans come in and they're like, this is what I am, you know it's a different experience. If you go later, they're already tired of sign signing autographs and they don't really wanna deal with you and you know, they're kind of on their cell phones instead of you know, catching your eye and that sort of thing. So it's kind of the feeling I get about the Irish whiskey industry right now. It is so fresh and new that everybody I talk to is passionate, excited. They've got a story to tell and you can't get that in Kentucky. I mean, you'll get a story in Kentucky, you'll get a story in Scotland. But it's just the rare distillery you go to that's brand new that's really starting to cut through where you go, Wow, the energy here is is crazy. And that's the energy I'm getting from the Irish whiskey industry.

James (01:33:22):
I that doesn't, it doesn't surprise me because I think the other thing is that you've got the, there, the vast majority are passion projects and the founders are all still in it. Yeah. And the, and and the reality is some of us won't make it and some of us will get bought out and the, and and it'll all be so, so it is an interesting moment in time because the majority of the businesses are still fundamentally kind of owner, founder, owner kind of run and, and that, and, and probably a little bit sort of rough around the edges because of that. And, and, but that's all kind of part of the charm I think and part of the Yeah, yeah. Part of what happens in, in three or four years time, there will be a whole, you know, there will be, there will be a shakeout, you know, which we, we all need to try and survive and, and that shakeout will be, some guys will go to the wall unfortunately.

Cuz I think that's the nature of it. You know, I think the absolute number of distilleries probably stays the same. Yeah. Whether, whether it's all the same faces is, is probably a different question. And then, and then there'll be a few that will be snapped up by guys looking to take, you know, stakes, you know, bigger companies looking to take stakes in Ireland and whether, and whether they, they kind of go hard in it and just take things over like lock gille where Csac had, you know, done that. But frankly if to, to realize the potential of Lock Gill in that site, it takes a, it takes a Ssac or a, you know, or a William Grants or someone like that to do it, you know and then you, so that's the kind of thing feeling I get anyway. I know it's you know, the, I think the absolute number of distilleries probably is probably the right number now and it'll be interesting to see the kind of the faces and the relative scales of them over time. That will be the piece that's interesting.

Drew (01:35:14):
Yeah. Well, I, I tell you, I love the fact that you're doing peed whiskeys and or tur turfed whiskeys or smokey whiskeys smokey. I will I'm gonna try to adopt that. It's like adopting the word potstill or single grain. Those are things that we gotta kind of get into our speech patterns with with Irish whiskey versus everything else. So yeah.

James (01:35:38):
And it's, it is, you know, the, we're very lucky really, you know, the, to find this moment in time where ultimately the next, you know, what's defined Irish whiskey today to so far is, is one thing what defines it over the next 10 years. I think we're incredibly lucky to be in on that conversation and be part of the conversation and that and, and helping shape it. You know, I think that, so that's, to me that's kind of fascinating. And it, and it, it is kind of interesting cuz from an international perspective, I mean like we are in 40 countries at the moment and probably 41 states of the US we just didn't really get a chance to be a baby <laugh>. You know, we, because of that kind of passion for Irish that's there, we've kind of almost jumped straight into gangly teenager space.

And and the industry I think has probably done a little bit of that as well. Cuz you've got this sort of the big, the big players where everything is kind of known and understood and thought through and professional and, and then there's this sort of all the noisy ones, you know, doing, trying, wanting to sort of try and pull that agenda to somewhere, somewhere different, you know, or maybe just try and course correct a little bit. And all of that takes time and, and I think it will be brilliant for it, you know, so the, the fact that in scotch, if, if kind of diagio moves or if Diagio moves and Grants move and and per no move, then the whole industry moves. It's as simple as that. Whereas Irish doesn't have that dominance. Yeah, yeah. So it's, it's

Drew (01:37:16):
One big player, but the William Grants is attmore, but really it's hard to tell at this point. So yeah, they, they, they still fe feel fresh and new.

James (01:37:26):
So, so there's a, so you can, you can, I mean I certainly feel like there's gonna be that the direction that we are gonna go is still not the, it's not sharp focus. It might be in focus, but it's not in sharp focus yet. And, and there's still a kind of, I believe there'll be a kind of chaotic organic evolve, you know, evolution of language, evolution of the technical file. Hopefully that isn't chaotic cuz otherwise we'll we'll never be thanked for it. But, but <laugh>, but, you know, but in terms of the kind of language around the industry, the, the kind of development in terms of where the industry seemed to go, it, you know, no one really owns the rules in, in a way that, that say DIO did, did with single malt when it, you know, Glyphic might have been the dominant style that kind of opened the category up, but sort of dag almost imposed the regionality piece, which may or may not be, you know, replicated here. I dunno. But it'll be interesting to see and, and a real privilege to be part of it.

Drew (01:38:27):
Yeah. It's been fun watching scotch whiskey actually break those barriers down. But the ones that are breaking it down are the smaller players. You know, like the the, the, the Ben Reic Glenro you know, they're, they're kind of push, well Glenro is pretty much being what they are, but Ben Reic is really playing around a lot. Lowland whiskeys playing around a little bit as well. And Isla whiskeys aren't all smokey. So there's you know, there's, these are the things that I love because it does challenge people's perception and the reason why I focus on whiskey all over the world is because I wanna see, you know these differences kind of growing in the different areas. There was a distillery in Ireland I went to that wants to make a sour mash whiskey. Yep. So, you know, if if, if we're gonna stretch, let's stretch and see what we can come up with and just make whiskey better overall.

James (01:39:24):
And it's interesting cause if you think about scotch then it's, it's kind of, it's, it's blurring the lines so it kind of had very clear lines that were all defined and everyone, and now everyone's trying to blur them. And here it's all blurry and it, and it'll come into focus, you know, and it's so, it, it, it's brilliant and the, the, the opportunity that that throws up for everybody is, is is really, you know, is significant. And the important thing is that we do pull together I think because if, if, if, if the industry kind of fragments, I don't think that's helpful at all to kind of maintaining the long term strength and sort of health of the, of the industry.

Drew (01:40:01):
Yeah. Find that middle ground between what scotch whiskey industry is doing and anarchy <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah.

James (01:40:09):
That's it. Yeah, just find the middle ground, just make sure it's a little bit closer to me. <Laugh>.

Drew (01:40:16):
Very good. Well I'm gonna let you go cuz your your, your outdoor neighbor is is giving you quite a, a bleeding, it sounds like. He

James (01:40:24):
Is, he he is bleeding out the back here

Drew (01:40:27):
<Laugh>. So

James (01:40:27):
The gate up to the field is just around the corner here. So that's, he's decided he wants out. So.

Drew (01:40:32):
Very nice. Very nice. Well, James, I really appreciate you spending the time today and and going through and always a pleasure to talk to you and, and we, we get on to some very interesting subjects and I'm really looking forward to seeing what you guys are gonna come up with there and actually tasting the spirit that you guys produce on site. That's gonna be a lot of fun.

James (01:40:54):
Thank you. No, I look forward to it and thank you for the support with this. It's been really appreciated. So yeah, look forward to seeing the book.

Drew (01:41:02):
Thank you. Cheers,

James (01:41:05):

Drew (01:41:06):
And if you wanna learn more, then just go to sleeve league distillers.com. That's S L I A B H L I A g distillers.com. You can find the link on the show notesPage@whiskeylore.com. If you're interested in getting a copy of the whiskey lore Travel Guide to experiencing Irish whiskey, it's gonna be available on amazon.com as a stocking stuffer or for planning your own dream trip to Ireland's distilleries on November 22nd. Just like the Kentucky book is full of all sorts of trip planning advice, history, process, and tasting prep, along with a brand guide and 27 distillery profiles, along with an additional 24 with advice on when they'll open or how to schedule a tour. That's Whiskey Lord's Travel Guide to Experiencing Irish Whiskey. November 22nd. I'm your Hanish. Thanks for listening and until next time, cheers and Slot GVA Whiskey Lores, a production of Travel Fuel's Life, llc.


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