Ep. 99 - O'Connell's, Smuggling, and the Liberator Irish Whiskey

SIR MAURICE O'CONNELL // Wayward Irish Spirits

Listen to the Episode

Show Notes

During my trip to Ireland, I had the pleasure of meeting Sir Maurice O'Connell as we talked about his two whiskey brands - The Liberator and Lakeview Estate. I was fascinated by his family's history in smuggling and his ancestor Daniel O'Connell who is known as the Liberator. We'll take a look back at that history and then dive into a discussion about his unique bonded warehouse, where he gets his barrels, and how he is using Killarney grain to make his whiskey.

Listen to the full episode with the player above or find it on Spotify, Apple or your favorite podcast app under "Whiskey Lore: The Interviews." The full transcript and resources talked about in this episode are available on the tab(s) above.

For More Information:


welcome to Whiskey lore the interviews I'm your host Drew Hanish the best-selling author of whiskey Laura's travel guide to experiencing Irish whiskey and experiencing Kentucky bourbon and today we are headed to Killarney on the Emerald Isle to talk some whiskey in history with a man who is developing a fine series of whiskeys and they are back not only by the stories of his family but also integrating some of the grains from his estate and so we're going to learn all about that some family history and more from Wayward Spirits the home of the Liberator and Lakeview Estates Brands I'm honored to welcome sir Morris O'Connell Morrison welcome thank you drew it's great to be here yeah well it's great to chat with you again we had a a great visit when I was there in Ireland and it was it's it it's sort of when you're planning out a trip and you're going to all of these distilleries and then you see a brand that's that's there but there's not really a tour associated with it it surrounds it in mystery

we don't mean to be mysterious but uh we're just not set up for chores it's difficult without making the whiskey uh without without without doing the chores as well so where else is up for that at the moment well let's uh let's jump in first because I want to introduce everybody to you and then we'll get into talking about some um uh family history the estate and also the whiskeys but um what got you interested in getting into the whiskey industry at the beginning I wasn't sure I wanted to be in the whiskey industry I was always a I always uh and I was not much of uh enjoyment of of whiskey I drinking whiskeys uh whiskey in Ireland uh is generally a huge industrial uh undertaking and until about 2015 it wasn't possible to do it on the craft scale that we we can now so it wasn't really an option it was something that had been I'd been nagging at me for for decades I wanted to do something that connected with my family history with shared shared our love with this place uh and shared some of our stories with people and I just isn't whiskey a fantastic thing for doing that it's a great vehicle for for talking to people and and yeah chatting uh yeah so that was uh and sort of in 2015 2016 uh with the Advent of uh wholesalers such as Great Northern and West cork distillers it became possible to for a small brand like ours to have our green distilled by by one of the bigger players and uh and to buy uh spirit that we could mature ourselves so that made the the business uh possible back in 2015 so it took us about three years to to get the bond and Storehouse set up here uh and longer and longer and longer and eventually we got uh we launched in 2020 uh so yeah it's taken a long time to get here but there we are yeah interesting that when I took my first trip around the Ring of Kerry and was doing my trip around the southern part of Ireland and this was 2019. that um Dingle was the only Distillery really that other than Middleton and the ones in Dublin that I really even knew about at that time and it was interesting the attitudes as we were doing the tour I had planned all these Scotch distilleries I was going to on that trip and so it was mostly a scotch whiskey trip but I decided since I was flying into Dublin I would take a little spin around Ireland to look at castles and uh and drink Guinness and so that was really kind of my my goal of that portion of the trip but then I saw there was a Distillery Dingle and I said okay well I'll stop off and and visit but there was really no um even when I talked to them there was this whole mystery around what Irish whiskey you know if there were any other distilleries they said we're working with one other startup really but other than that we can't we can't tell you what's going on in the Irish whiskey industry well isn't it amazing everyone comes to the same inclusion at the same time so I know at least two other two other people who uh For Whom the distinct Dingle Distillery prospectus came across their their desks back in I think might have been 2012 and suddenly what what we we've sort of been thinking about the back of our heads suddenly actually became became possible and Dingle Dingle showed us that that was possible uh and uh yeah so I think that was a Genesis for for at least two other two other brands I know of and probably a lot more yeah it seems interesting that uh that Killarney was a little late in coming into this I say late in sort of a perspective of just a few years of this growth of the Irish whiskey industry but now you have three distilleries or three different brands that are coming out of uh Killarney just in a very small period of time and and all within uh about a mile within within a mile on on the same road one of them is 500 yards up one side the other one's 500 yards up the other side so uh yeah it's uh but it's great I mean the we there will be competition locally for shelf space is bound to be uh and generally in Ireland there is a lot of competition for shelf space but we're all I'm we're all small brands in in the world scheme of things so actually the three brands together actually does make a does does make for a grouping which will enable people to to understand the area and hopefully we can show that what we're doing in the area is different um and I know that the other two have plans for for tourists uh uh uh for tours um so um hopefully that'll spray read the word about whiskey and Killarney and we're better to I mean there's the old saying that the best place to open a shoe shop is near other shoe shops that's true hopefully people will come to the area looking for whiskey and uh and just that there is there is a critical mass there I hope yeah well well I think the the surprise to me is that that is such a great tourist area I mean to go down to the Ring of Kerry and now there's going to be distilleries down that direction too so I mean for the whiskey fan it really gives them an opportunity to absorb a lot in just a small area angeloni and Kerry is extraordinary the the the number of people it's the second most visited part of of Ireland and that that's it both into both International tourists and and Irish tourists and if I want to get hold of somebody the chances are that they're passing through Killarney in the summer or Kerry in the summer I mean it is it is extraordinary and people people who are would be sort of significant interest to me is but unfortunately too many times you hear that they've been and gone uh but uh well we managed to grab a few people and uh tell our story along the way so yeah well let's talk about uh you have a beautiful estate there when I stepped out I'm a big James Bond fan as soon as I stepped out and you're right on the the lake there and you got the mountains right behind it it's like you you feel like I should have driven up in my Aston Martin and driving up in my little rental car I was in but uh so talk a little bit uh about the history of that estate because it I think it's fascinating that you have Family Ties on uh both your mother and father's side that yeah yeah come to come together to relate to this property yeah I mean the the the house I'm in at the moment is uh is from about 1870 and the o'connells came to this land in 1820 and as it turns out the land had previously been in my mother's family the McCarthy's family for about 700 years before then so between the two families we can and I do claim to have been on this land for about 900 years which is I mean every whiskey brand has to have a has to have a date and I don't think there's anybody else who goes goes uh before that but uh the uh but uh you don't really want to be the one so drop the ball after 900 years so there is a certain amount of pressure in that regard yeah it's uh well I deal with dates all the time and of course when I was visiting I I had brought up the uh the thing about Bushmills and their uh their statement of uh 1608 and it's so funny now after coming back and then starting to work on the whiskey lore Stories podcast and really digging into that history and trying to figure out you know what does that the date relate to and then talking to Daryl McNally at limavady and you know he's saying well you know our property was also in that same uh area the the the route uh on the northern part of of Ireland and in Ulster um that these dates um everybody's so hung up on them but they are yeah but they're so unclear that's the thing is that we want to it's irrelevant yeah and it's irrelevant too I mean the the the one that we all guess Helen up over here uh is is the is the uh the first mention of of whiskey uh distilling uh on paper and uh and for us uh it's uh uh it's 700 years next year is the is the first that's first recorded that's through 1324 right yeah so so we're we're all planning to celebrate that but the the Scots uh uh are uh just don't don't accept that uh it's it's it's neither here nor there they've done the Scots have done a fantastic job uh over educating the world on Whiskey we we dropped the ball for many centuries and and we're we're having to we're we're coming from from behind to try and uh to try and push ourselves forward now and uh I mean the I was at a show the other day where the there was a scotch uh uh stand saying 150 years of history and we were all planning to go up to them and tell them about 700 years of Irish whiskey history but yeah still likes to Life's too short to get get hung up on those things the stocks that have have done a superb job of convincing the world that the only decent whiskey is a single malt which actually means nothing other than it's from one particular place and that that the only whiskey worth drinking uh is uh is 12 years or older um but yeah and that's really what we're trying having to to try and uh battle on the on an international front because they've done such a good job of convincing the world yeah well and it's interesting to really dive in I had this discussion with somebody the other day about eight statements and and the idea of um you know how much will you pay for an age statement and I said you know what I'd rather pay for the taste and quality of the spirit than I would exactly exactly the eight statement uh because there are plenty of 30 year old whiskeys out there that are selling for thousands of dollars the question is you know how do they taste is it worth the you know from the experience or is it for bragging rights just to have it up on the Shelf so yeah yeah no it's interesting and I think what I found when I first got into learning about Irish whiskey my opinion was coming from a Scottish point of view which was boy when the Irish get into doing single malts this will be you know really interesting but what I learned when I got to Ireland was the Scots can't do single pots still and single pot still to me is a fascinating style of whiskey yeah I I agree 100 and on age statements the we don't we don't put age statements on our whiskey because every batch is different and you might find the age statement changes which it would have to change and on our core range the the the Liberator molten Tony Port the whiskeys that are in that range from there's probably 10 which is five years old the majority of it will be seven or eight seven years old and there's 14 year old in it but we'd have to put the age of youngest spirit in it which would be five years and it doesn't bear any relation to the quality of the of the whiskey so I'd rather not just get stuck in that down that rabbit hole but it's an education process you've got and not it not not everyone will will understand that yeah and I think if you were if you take it from this point of view if you had a whiskey that was 20 years old and and when you were sitting there as a blender saying if I take this Barrel that's five years old and I put a little bit of it in there and it makes it that much better than how are you being cheated right by not just because you're gonna have to lower to a five year eight statement and that will stop you from creating a better whiskey than what you have so yeah absolutely yeah interesting so um so getting back into the into the family history let's let's jump back a bit one of the things that I loved in doing my research about Irish whiskey history was the connection with Spain there uh the the idea that um that you had Spanish ships bringing up I found in the 1700s mentions of of Spanish hogshead barrels being used it for by Irish uh distillers so you know we talk about when did they start using these barrels what types of barrels were they using but there was this great connection between Spain and Ireland and this is it was very it was very fashionable even back in 1450 when my family were in a my O'Connell family were in the McCarthy castle and they were guarding it for the McCarthy's my mother's family and the two families are are interlinked over the centuries but in 1450 we were down the coast here in a place called ballycarbury Castle importing wines and spirits from Spain and Portugal which was a which was the height of fashion in those days and there were a lot of Spanish people living here having uh having uh and with having leather that they came over with with leather making skills um and and it was a it was it was a it was a recognized trade uh so uh we try and use casks that have a connection with our family history so the the we started off with Port um and uh we we have some Sherry casts as well I particularly like Port that's that's why we we started on that one um and uh um yeah it's it's good to reconnect with that so um in 1450 there was one of my ancestors who was known as Morgan of the wine uh and he because the uh he had uh that he and his brother lived in the same castle and the the McCarthy Chieftain was coming to visit them with a view to giving one of them a promotion and the the they were both vying to to uh to entertain the McCarthy Chieftain and he said well look the first whichever of you has your meal ready the first I will come and dine with him uh and so the the Morgan was living on the first floor of the castle uh but his Kennedy brother Morris after whom I'm named lived on the ground floor and sort of thought of it and blocked up the door to his brothers uh to his brother's first floor access so that he wasn't able to get in any fuel to cook his meal with uh but uh Morgan was the wine who was so called because he because at the time they were importing in Spanish what they call licorice but was actually a brandy and he used the Brandy to cook the meal and then was the first to have his meal ready for the MacArthur McCarthy Chieftain and Goss got the promotion because of that so uh my namesake didn't come out very well actually how do these stories just flow down through the family I mean that's this is uh it's it's fun to hear these oh absolutely yeah by the whole history books no and uh and I must say I I'm rather more interested in the anecdotal side of History uh than the than the the dates uh mostly because I can't remember most of the dates but uh but we were as I say we were there importing wine spirits from 1450 and that was a legal business in those days and it was only in 1661 when the English Parliament brought in excise duty is that what we've been doing for centuries suddenly became taxable that we weren't really happy with that so we carried doing it on doing what we've been doing for centuries only they called it smuggling um so so we we have on our on our part of our label we we have uh it's a proudly Wayward since 1661. so we date we date our waywardness from from having to start becoming Smugglers um so yeah we were doing that for quite a while so the um prior to that you the the castle I take it uh Valley Carberry Castle does not exist anymore and for some Quirk of of History I'm uh still lord of the manner of Bali Carberry Castle ah okay I've always imagined gives me a sort to understand of the virgins of ballycarbury Parish but since they're nearly all bovine uh it's not something I've actually made with the use of but uh yeah it's it's it is still there it's been ruined since about uh well cromwell's acted in 1628 or thereabouts cromwell's troops yeah and uh uh and it's been a picturesque ruin ever since it's amazing it's still standing actually after all that time how far is it from where you're at about 25 25 miles okay is it on the right on the coast yes it is um uh and uh I don't know if you went down to Skellig 618 our neighbors yeah in carouseline who now got whiskey out um they they look out over it and uh uh it's part of their their their story as well so it's nice to spread the love I was gonna say do they uh do they ask you for uh rent to uh look over it and make sure nobody my wife my wife thought it was would be a great idea to to buy this ruin uh and uh but the in Ireland we have such difficulties with uh public liability uh that uh if anyone Falls or hurts themselves uh you would be sued so I I think we don't don't need any more risk like that so it was interesting in uh I I would hear the name Cromwell while I was uh going around the island and um I I usually with a space after it yeah as as as an American that was the uh that was a tricky part of me doing a series on Irish whiskey I didn't know that much about Cromwell to me Cromwell was that bump in the road in the mid midst of the English Monarchy where all of a sudden oh they're out for a little while they're back in um but we don't get a lot of his history then when I had to start um I would talk to people there about history and I would say the name Cromwell and I would get this look and then um as I started doing the research and started telling the story I um it was interesting looking at it as an outsider but it was also touchy because it was like I know I have an Irish audience that's going to be listening to this I'm going to try to be as evenly-handed about this as as possible but he's he's not very well loved it might be even handed there's no point to me even handled after all this time yeah but basically in in the early 1600s uh the uh a guy called Guy Fawkes Catholic tried to blow up the houses of Parliament and uh up in the the the the English Parliament uh and so so began suppressional the cast Catholics and the the English brought in um the penal laws which basically prohibited Catholics from owning land uh being in any business being in the in the the any profession uh being educated or having the vote and this these this is these are some of the things that my forebear Daniel O'Connell there was a liberator uh was involved in in upending um but it took it took many hundreds of years so Cromwell was over to try and suppress any possibility of Catholics rising up and and and taking and and rebelling yeah it's uh plus he apparently Wexford and drada were uh kind of sorts points too where those were the ones that were tricky for me because the um uh I would read somewhere that said uh you know that it's taking like drought uh the situation there where basically it was Kill Everybody anybody that had uh men women and children were being killed and then I'm reading other versions that are going no it was the men and that mostly that anybody had a weapon in their hand was the one right here so it's like you read that and you go okay how do I how do I cover this uh and you know so um but it's a it's a it's an interesting thing to learn history and then go to another place where that history took place and learned because the first time I came through I just went through looking at castles and I was reading these these boards and I was realizing I knew nothing about Irish history yeah you know it's just it's not taught in American schools and so or in English schools for that matter there's quite the quite an education piece in the UK trying to tell people about our history and it's all such a long time ago that that there are people for whom it it does feel as it was yesterday but uh but it was a long time ago and we we're as a nation we're some quite forward looking now and uh and yeah I I think I think we're that we're it's better if we're looking forward rather than yeah yeah so um past problems so there are no more connections with your family in history um talk about who the wild geese were in your family's connection um the wild geese were because as I told you under the penal laws Catholics weren't allowed to be be in any educated or so if you wanted to make make a name for yourself you wanted to do anything make something of yourself generally you had to go off to the continent to either be educated or um or go and fight in in Wars on the continent and there was a a group called The the wild geese who went to Fort in in or a regiment of Irish second songs usually who went off to fighting fighting Wars on the continent and uh one of my ancestors was the the last Colonel of this Irish Brigade uh man called count Daniel O'Connell uh but yeah they were they were extraordinary people and extraordinary times and what what did the sort of two sides of it were that after we left ballycabri Castle uh we moved up the coast to a place called daranon uh which is the second most beautiful place in Ireland after here uh and uh we we carried on smuggling there and it was ideal for that because it was a natural Harbor hidden from the sea so the revenue ships would go past and not see what was happening there were mountains surrounding it so people couldn't get in and anyone who did get in who wasn't either an O'Connell or an O'Sullivan tended to stick out so we had this little Magical Kingdom there where we were were trading um uh with the continent and and trading often with lots of dozens around the place because we'd have had cousins in in Bordeaux and uh in Spain and Portugal and Italy and we would have been trading with them and what was what was interesting was where we were you've been you've been to The Spar van it's right at the edge of Europe uh and the next we say the next parish is America so we were we were much more outward looking than than looking inwards at our own country because Dublin which would have been our our Capital would have been the the uh the capital of the person descendancy who really didn't want to have much to do with us so uh so all of our energy was was focused outwards on on the continent and we would have had more connection with those capitals than we would have with our own capital and so what my one of my ancestors another Morris O'Connell there's a lot more I said call of this story uh a guy known as hunting cap uh because he the English brought in attacks on gentlemen's hands and to stick two fingers he wasn't really put how but having that either so he started wearing a velvet hunting cap so he's known as Morris hunting cap O'Connell and uh he uh had a fleece of seven or eight ships going to and fro from the continent importing luxury goods um and the trade in the other direction would have been the animal hides and souls and things like that but also young men going off to make their fortune on on the continent so it was it was very present in their lives that that you had to go off and and uh and make your make your name elsewhere um so if it was an extraordinary time an extraordinary generation of people it's interesting that there was a velvet cap whiskey do you think it has any relation no it doesn't because there's a race we were actually originally going to going to uh our brand was originally going to be hunting cap whiskey okay uh but uh the the people I spoke to said well that's going to upset people who don't like hunting so and then we found that it was possible to to name it the Liberator instead so that was a much more resonant name for us um so let's get into the story of uh of Daniel O'Connell because he is a very interesting uh very interesting person extraordinary man yeah yes who uh has connections uh here to the United States and has uh connections to uh was it uh was it Belgium or uh oh right here okay yes yeah yeah connections everywhere actually so the um Daniel O'Connell hunting cap uh uh Hunter Cup's nephew was a man called Daniel O'Connell and uh the um the hunter cup adopted basically adopted his nephew and arranged for him to be educated in France at this time countdown who was the uh who was the uh last Colonel of the Irish Brigade was the General in the French court and he arranged for Dan to be educated in France because he couldn't be education Ireland and so Dan went over to Ireland and sorry over to France and he that coincided with the start of the French Revolution and he saw the Bloodshed of the Revolution and he vowed that he was going to make he was going to to uh to get revolutionary change for Ireland but using peaceful means only so this was unheard of at the time revolutions are not peaceful but people like Martin Luther King and Gandhi both acknowledge his influence and their autobiographies um uh Frederick Douglass who you guys know uh came to Dublin to learn from Daniel O'Connell uh the the reason he came was that when he was a slave he would hear his Masters uh cursing the name of Daniel O'Connell so he he he realized that this is the guy that he had to meet so he came to Dublin to learn from Dan and thereafter sort of called him started calling himself the black O'Connell uh because at the time Dan was was very involved in anti-slavery campaigning as well uh the uh so and where where we were down in daranon uh they were very hospitable hosts down there so people would come from all over Europe to to good to come and and learn from Daniel o'gonnell uh often they'll be 30 or 40 people around the dinner table um uh who'd come from all over all over Europe uh and uh one of them was a was a German prince who wrote a book about about the O'Connell's and uh this got to reference your point with with Belgium the he gained certain amount of Fame in Belgium to the extent that when Belgium got its independence from the Netherlands in I think 1830 they decided they wanted to have a constitutional monarchy so they uh um they approached some members the Belgian cabinet approached Daniel O'Connell and asked him if if you would allow his name to go forward to be on the ballot to become king of Belgium so yeah unfortunately Dan said no because he had still had too much to do in Ireland but uh yeah being part of the Belgian royal family might have done me a bit of good at some stage but yeah well there was a uh prior to the um acts of Union there was an Irish Uprising slash Revolution wolf tone that that whole time period did he take part in that at all no not really um and he was in the background there so uh it's not really part of his uh as a Young Man although he he had uh he had issued violence he uh he got maneuvered he he got maneuvered into uh a duel with uh with uh a man called destaire and basically it was he was set up because destair was a uh a crack shot in the the breast shot in the British army so uh Dan got forced into this deal with him and it was assumed that he just did he would he would he would be killed and he'd be out of everyone's way and not be a pain in the like side of authority from then on but as it happened Dan shot him and and killed the man uh and he regretted this for the rest of his life so uh so that that also brought him on on board's peaceful protest and what he did was basically he he used his oratory to mobilize the people of Ireland um which had never been done before and got their voices heard for the first time and forced the English Parliament into recognizing Catholics and and giving us a voice so uh and that was hugely abort for Ireland although he's known he's and for that he is known in Ireland as the Liberator yeah and Catholic emancipation yeah and often in yeah Catherine emancipation is is you've mentioned that to people in their eyes glaze over but but it doesn't much more engaging stories about about anti-slavery campaigning uh and he campaigned for Jewish rights for women's rights basically anyone who's downtrodden he was on their side and he was complete pain in the backside for the for the for the establishment uh to the extent that uh our company is called Wayward Irish spirits and we the name comes from an insult that the British prime minister Robert peel leveled Daniel O'Connell he called him that Wayward Irishman so we've sort of taken that on with pride so yeah there's uh he wasn't he wasn't universally popular but but internationally he he had a had a huge following it was interesting seeing the connection with him and father Matthew who I cover in the first episode yeah we sort of gloss over that bit yes well yeah he was a was that was a Temperance uh uh campaigner and uh Dan Dan became very uh friendly with him towards towards the end of his life and became and and joined the temperance movement himself we saw some really fit with the whiskey but there we are everyone's allowed an operation at some stage Well Jack Daniel yeah it'll uh be good for you to know became a Primitive Baptist and they were uh against um whiskey so he actually gave up his business to become a primitive at the end of his life yeah well Dan funded his son to set up a brewery in Dublin uh in competition with a certain uh certain uh Protestant business who continue to this day and he was basically setting up a Catholic Stout who to to to to encourage people to buy to buy Irish that were uh but it it folded quite quickly because nothing just nothing is is as good as Guinness unfortunately so so he uh did he ever because I know father father Matthew actually spent some time in the United States did uh he ever go on any traveling campaigns in the US no um he didn't no there's too much to do here um yeah well I know there was a there was a little bit of uh frustration with Father Matthew when he went over because he threw away all of his anti-slavery uh rhetoric at that time because he didn't want to upset anybody okay and so that uh kind of made me wonder was did Daniel O'Connor uh panel get a chance to uh also make the the move over there he wasn't really very interested in in avoiding upsetting people uh it wasn't really in his makeup and there was a lot of Americans who wanted to to fund Dan's movement and there was one particular guy I think he was called Stevenson who was the the uh US ambassador to London and offered to to give uh to to fund stands guns work uh but Dan refused calling him a slave breeder so uh he wasn't very subtle at the best of times but so Stevenson uh challenged him to a duel uh and because he was a pacifist he was uh he was uh he he he he turned it down he was able to avoid that yeah yeah so this is what's interesting about going back and doing all this research on because I'm working on my Tennessee whiskey history book right now and um you know this this idea of duels uh it's amazing how many famous people were actually in them I I'm covering Andrew President Andrew Jackson uh he carried a bullet in his uh in his body for the rest of his life that was near his heart because he got into a duel but what was interesting about reading about it was that he had um uh he was not a good shot he was he was uh the guy he was going up against Charles Dickinson was an expert shot and so the question was how is this guy going to survive in this duel that he's pretty much uh at a loss especially if the other guy gets to shoot first well his uh his uh second said um I want you to shoot first if we can get you to or I mean I want you to shoot second if we can get you to shoot second because I have a plan so what his plan was was he told him we told him just um uh stand there strong and uh and and don't move a muscle and I will get get us out of this so basically when the expert shot Charles Dickens in points his gun uh the second is the one who calls for the shot so he turns to uh Andrew Jackson and says are you ready and then Dickinson's standing over there waiting for him to turn around and say are you ready but he doesn't he just goes fire like that and never looks at Dickinson and Dickinson startled so he just like you know she's the gun and doesn't doesn't take a strong aim he actually hit him uh in the chest and it was a button that saved Andrew thousands reflected the shot that deflected off of a button but he ended up uh Jackson aimed back and killed Dickinson so uh it's it's just you you hear these stories uh Alexander Hamilton our first Secretary of the Treasury was uh killed in a duel uh with Aaron Burr which became part of the the play that everybody uh watches on Broadway now and I wonder if they realize you know all the stuff that went on between all the singing going on in the uh in the Broadway play how much uh I haven't watched it because it's kind of for me it's kind of like uh I know I'm gonna be critical of this thing all the way through knowing that knowing the history behind it but um the other thing we have another another uh story about about duels around this bottle of the Lakeview singular State whiskey so I I that it's sort of an unusual bottle and we choose it based on this bottle here which is a bottle of perfume that was given to my grandmother on her wedding day in 1923 and if you see it's got a glass neck and a glass stopper so the the when when she got it and throughout its life the glass stopper fused inside the glass neck and as kids we'd be offered money to to try and open it basically to keep us quiet for an hour or two uh but we were never able to open it so so it sort of got iconic status in the household and it's actually a perfume

and was done by a man called count Alfred dorsay and we only found out recently that Alfred D'Orsay was a friend of Disraeli the who's another English prime minister and of course Daniel O'Connell upset Israeli at one stage to the extent that it really challenged Dan to a duel and but this really asked his friend Alfred Dorsey to be his second so uh uh so it's extraordinary all these Connections in history and fortunately Dorsey refused so uh so the duel didn't go ahead um it's it's amazing that these guys survived as long as they did with all the doors yeah yeah yeah so um so I have to ask you about the glass stopper when did how old were you when you finally figured out how to get that thing open I was only it was six months ago for uh as a as a dinner fueled by copious amounts of The Liberation uh we worked out that we put ice around the neck and used sorry ice round stopper and used hair free hair dryers at different sides of the neck to to expand that and eventually it came up and actually it smells I won't say as good as it did at day one because I think it's it's just really heavy and plowing but it tastes it smells as it as it did on in I suspect when it was made so yeah yeah amazing good seal there um so did you put a glass top or on your uh on your bottles no no excited again so we we have we have this this large wooden stopper okay proudly Wayward yeah yeah on the lake view also though yeah yeah it's the same one there okay all right very nice so uh so there's a point in the history of uh American whiskey because I was talking with somebody the other day about this uh uh we were talking about the history of moonshine and I said you know literally the history of moonshine can't start until uh the spirit becomes illegal so uh from from that standpoint we're talking about how long the history of moonshining in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee was and I was going well it couldn't have been before uh 19 or 1863 when the excise tax came along that uh there was 1963 for you right okay 1863 yeah we had one we had one in uh 1790 uh one and that was Alexander Hamilton's uh famous tax that ended in the Whiskey Rebellion uh and then there was another and that only lasted the 1800 then there was another one to pay for the War of 1812 for about three years and amazingly both of those taxes uh which is unheard of in in American history were both rescinded uh and so after if we had long periods without and then in uh 1862 I guess it was uh Abraham Abraham Lincoln brought back the excise tax as a as a temporary measure although we still pay that income tax to this day so that wasn't quite so temporary but in terms of smuggling for your family the idea being that you were Smugglers up until what point was there a point where you suddenly became uh legitimate again yeah I mean in around 1820 uh when uh Daniel O'Connell was becoming politically prominent uh and hunting cap by this stage was I think it is it is uh 90s and going blind uh so and the revenue were threatening to send the gunboat up the Kenmare Bay to start shelling the house so the family decided that probably that was a good time to give up the smuggling so my side of the family moved here to Killarney in 1820 uh with a share of hunting caps fortune and [Music] um yeah so that that was one where we started to go legit and when we when we set up our bonded Storehouse here on the estate uh back in 2018 one of our initial uh Revenue officers was an amateur historian and he was sort of tickled pink but the the o'connels were now asking permission to to deal in alcohol So eventually they go on to this but yeah so let's talk about we got a chance to walk around and and see your facilities you're not distilling on-site uh but you know the ceiling pumps later we will we will do that later yeah and so uh but let's let's talk first about your Storehouse because your Storehouse uh we got to get the name out of the way it has a very interesting name that you guys uh didn't quite um have a full comprehension of until somebody clued you in on it uh talk about that yeah I'm the entrance to the the storehouse uh is through an arch Archway and above the archway a great uncle of mine puts up a plaque in Mandarin Chinese traditional Chinese says um saying House of contentment in Chinese and as growing up I I always heard that it didn't really mean anything to me until my father-in-law uh was then working in Hong Kong and brought robbing of us out there and they said so I you do realize that's uh euphemism in Chinese for brothel and uh so uh so we didn't realize that uh but uh but I think he might have been having a joke at our expense so our abundant Storehouse is now called the house of contentment very nice so um it's a sort of it's uh you've seen it it's a 300 year old stone building with two foot thick walls uh it's quite damp and humid uh and uh so it's uh it our ideal place for for maturing whiskey uh and you were saying as say we're not distilling but what we're what we're doing is we're we've reintroduced the tradition of Irish whiskey bonding so as you said uh Merchants would have got all their in days for the big Brands Merchants would have got all their their goods in barrels wines Spirits tea even uh and when they sold the contents of it they they wondered what to do with it and they realized that if they took it to their local Distillery and filled it with whiskey uh it created fantastic new flavors so every town had its own house and every Pub or Merchants would have their own house whiskeys they'll all be very different uh so uh we sort of brought that tradition along with others into the 20th 21st century so we commissioned Spirit from 7 different distilleries which we uh blend sorry which we mature uh from new make squares um and then we finish it blenders and bottlers on site so basically we're we're using these as components for for different whiskeys first whiskey that we brought up which is this one which is our malted Tawny Port uh is a vetting of um of whiskeys from Great Northern Distillery and Coulee Distillery uh nobody had had done a whiskey in Ireland for decades uh it just seemed to me to be an obvious thing to do uh and it was a sort of sign of where we're going with from here So eventually you might find that we have whiskeys being produced that that are that have components from seven different distilleries uh so that way we're not just rebottling Spirit from other distilleries we are making it our own this whether you like it or not is very different to the the spirit that that came to us in the first place so uh so uh yeah we're making us our own um and um yeah so let's let's yeah let's talk about that process just a little bit then in terms of uh what you're doing do are they aging in Bourbon barrels initially and maybe getting it to you at a certain age or are you uh doing the entire aging outside um mixture of both to start with we we've bought some some mature Spirit uh but uh I think the it was there was some some older Spirit but most of it was two years two years old when we started so not at this stage it's it's seven or eight years old and from then we've we've we've bought a lot of new make Spirits which is maturing and there's now um the locksmith's lost weight is three to four years old now so we're we're bringing that on on stream as well uh we'll talk about the idea of a vattered malt too is there is there a difference between a blended malt like if we're talking about a blended malt whiskey from Scotland versus a vatid malt is it really kind of the same same concept it's the same same thing uh the uh but that it sounds nice and Blended I mean if you're trying to explain to someone the difference between a more between a a more whiskey and and a blend which which has green whiskey in it as well you don't want any more complications than the naming of it yeah so what are the connections that you have in terms of family connections to the barrels that you're you're bringing in yeah and the it's really important to us a the whiskey the barrels are really good quality so it's important for us that the the liquid that was in them beforehand is really good and that it's coming from a from a decent supplier who looks after their casks so uh the the car the podcast that we have um I can't say where they're from but but basically we're buying direct from the kinter so we're getting them really Fresh So This is a Tawny Port cars you can see the color on that the uh the we're getting the casts refilled here within three weeks of them discouraging in Porto so if we bought them through a wholesaler um they could be sitting around for six or nine months getting dried out but these are really fresh uh and make a big difference the whiskey the uh the reason we chose Portugal to start off with my wife has family in the north of Portugal and all our neighbors out there are the port wine families so we know them all quite well uh and uh and that's enabled us to to to to get in in posts and do that in fact the the first Port barrels that I I bought I negotiated for in my best Portuguese my wife forced me to learn Portuguese a few years has been absolutely no use to me but uh but the but but it's helped to negotiate for these these casts because a lot of these people don't don't actually speak English and do appreciate it if you if you make the effort to speak Portuguese so my Portuguese is is okay it was okay uh not perfect so my wife was actually surprised that I didn't uh return home with a bathtub or something instead of some barrels unfortunately it turned out all right yeah so when you're working with these fresh uh barrels though it's a I mean they could probably be pretty aggressive in terms of uh impacting their flavors on a whiskey have you did you have any situations early on where you went whoa I've just created a new barrel of pork wine here rather than a lot of whiskey yes there is that I mean one guy uh we we we did a a special release uh which basically what we do is that when uh when we finish them in the pork barrels the first the first refill of the barrel might be for nine to 12 months the next one might be for 15 months and the third one might be for two years so we will blend the three of those together to to create create our malt and Tawny Port finish uh because the first fill is as you say quite aggressive uh and some someone uh someone remarked this oh it's almost Port scheme which wasn't quite what we were looking for so you sometimes you have to blend blend that out but if you don't have you don't have the flavor there to start off with you you can't there's nothing to blend out yeah so it's important to to get that to get that impact but the first fill is is often a little too aggressive for for for resale although the Geeks love it yeah so uh but I mean the longer you can leave us in the cast The More The Geeks love it and we possibly we've got a cast which we're releasing as a as an exclusive with with uh with the friends of Irish whiskey which is a Facebook page and the the the the the the whiskey was just left in The Cask we forgot about it basically uh because it didn't fit into what we were planning so it it got overlooked and it was in the cast for about 19 months and so we also had some grain which had been the cast about 22 months which was too long they're together they've been batting together in in a bourbon cast now for the past 20 almost two years uh it's really really really uh aggressively fruity uh but but they love it and it would be what I like to dip into occasionally as well yeah well I was uh surprised the other day I went and bought a bottle of edgerdaur uh Scotch which is that they write on the bottle that they only go um with first and second Phil oloroso Sherry barrels and I didn't notice it well when you buy it it's in a tin so you don't know what the whiskey looks like the stuff looks like Coca-Cola it is the darkest this is the darkest whiskey I have ever that that isn't a bourbon because you'll find you know cast drink Bourbons that might be that dark but you're you're not gonna find uh Irish whiskey or Scotch whiskey usually that dark but it really does speak to that first fill being very aggressive and I don't think a lot of people realize that some of these distilleries will utilize a barrel for you know 20 years on the first run and then they'll use it again for another 20 years and then they'll use the third time for another 20 years and that each each of those different stages uh creates a a different impact on the on the whiskey yeah and that's the secret of blending well that's what blending is about just making the best of of those three and not not overpowering not not making as overpowering uh but there is a case for for it being overpowering from time to time it can be lovely yeah so let's talk about the uh the Lakeview single estate whiskeys that you're working on right now because yeah this is my new baby um ah so this is from Bali grown here and matured here and what's really extraordinary I mean if you look at the color of that uh that's been in uh it's been matured in a red wine cask and uh the uh this is a pot still whiskey uh do you want to explain what a pot still whiskey is yeah yeah we can do that so it's uh and and in fact I remember from our discussion that uh basically we're I don't know your percentage of unmalted and malted barley but it's a combination of at least okay so it's at least 30 percent malted at least 30 percent unmalted and then five percent of something else or if you want and so you're using oats as your other five percent yeah yeah

because the 50 50 works really well uh and uh so the this was uh uh bought from Bali grown here in 2019 and uh it was it came back to us distilled for us by Great Northern Distillery and came back here from that duration and uh what's really interesting is that this is only three and a half years old when I when you were here I showed you I was telling you how we say in Killarney we we talk about having Four Seasons in an hour and we that's not just rubbish we tell tourists this actually exists because we have really changeable weather here and each of those changes in weather is causes the the whiskey to interact with The Cask so the way whiskey is maturing is is it's going into the cast when it expands and when it contracts again when it gets colder it comes out of the out of the the whiskey and it's going through this layer of charcoal on the side of of the barrel where it's been burnt and that's purifying it over time so possible whiskeys generally are not drinkable at three years old uh you'll normally have to wait five six years old but because of our microplimers here we're getting much more interaction with the cask and I've been saying that this should make our whiskey mature more quickly but now that we've actually got it in a bottle I can actually prove to people that actually it does taste most people are saying it tastes like a seven or an eight year old whiskey uh and it's been extraordinary to be able to prove that it should prove that to people at long last yeah well it's interesting to me that uh pasta whiskey to me in the US we're exposed to to uh well now we have green spot and uh and yellow spot but red breast was really it for the longest time and being at the 12-year age statement to me I like them I like them younger so uh from a pot still standpoint because I think there's so much of that early character that comes from the uh you know your your pepper notes the nice uh uh grain notes that you get in the oiliness and the yeah exactly so I think uh that's that's the other part of the secret weapon of pot still whiskey is that like American Rye uh or peated whiskeys sometimes they're better earlier than they are you know letting them go for long periods of time where they lose that character well we'll see how it how it matures I mean the the maturation isn't isn't a straight line unfortunately so it can go in and out of being goods and bads I mean sometimes you go to a cask and it's really not doing very well then you come back again six months later and and it it might be it might be tasting really well so it's you're riding a tiger a bit you don't you it's uh it's you don't really know where it's going to end up I don't know whether whether or I mean in each individual task is different so I don't know whether my other tasks uh are going to be able to to produce the same came the same quality of what we've got there so uh it it's yeah you don't know until until you you bottle it really yeah this is the essence of whiskey well the the plus the pluses is that you have multiple barrels going on so you can also maybe yeah we're not like we're not we're we're ours is is about as far from industrial risk as it gets we don't have the we don't have the quantity of costs that that the big boys do to be able to blend out these inconsistencies uh we um we produce all of our whiskeys are in small batches each one will be different and so we still rely on Oscar Wilde's Maxim that uh consistency is the last Refuge or the uninspired so each of our batches will be different so come back and you'll each time and you'll find hopefully you'll find something different or maybe something different to enjoy out of each batch yeah which is I think the reason why buy Single Barrel whiskeys have become so popular is that it does give you the opportunity to taste almost vintages in a way of of whiskeys because it's what did that Barrel go through over a period of years yeah how how tough was it for you to find a place to be able to take your grain and say um you know we want to produce whiskey just using our grain because this is interesting you will be the first distillery in your area I think to really be using stuff that's been grown right right there yeah yeah well it's very rare in Ireland for for the Grain and the maturation to be in the same place uh and I think those are the two where where something is distilled and still it will tell you something different but where something is distilled doesn't if there's no sense of play face to where something is distilled the title is still yes but if you're you're and if it's to still buy a Scotsman or distilled by an American or an Irishman is that going to make a difference to us I don't know it's everyone is different uh but but where the Bali is grown can be shown to make uh make a difference where and we are now showing that where where the whiskey is matured makes a difference uh and uh so if so getting it still we have to still buy Great Northern and they were very good to us they they kept our our grain separate what was more difficult was was the morphing of it because when we first started the our first crop was 10 tons because we lost half of it from in a storm and uh the um so we had five tons of malted barley and the the malty is an industrial process in Ireland and the I took it to the two malting companies and and they said oh yeah one of them said our batch sizes are 100 tons the other was 120 tons they said give us your five tons we'll give you five tons out the other end but that wouldn't have been mine uh right so we we found a guy up called Gareth Eden up in in nice uh up near up the way up to Dublin and uh he bolts in five-ton batches for us so for better or worse it is my grain it's malted alone it's distilled alone so if it's bad well there's only me to to blame uh if it's good hopefully so I'll get some some credit for that so the molting was that was that was an issue uh and and it's also really expensive to do it to do it uh in in this whole scale I reckon it costs us about to grow the barley and to to distill it and mature it's costing us about 1100 Euros uh uh ton uh whereas I can go out and buy malted barley wholesale uh for about 454.75 a ton so hopefully that people will will realize that the provenance there's a value to that um I think there is uh and uh yeah it's um but it was important to me to be able to stand behind it all the way and say this is this is the product of my land that this is the spirit of this place um so that that's been that's been a really important thing for us that that would be uh the other uh option would be to take one of your buildings and turn it into a malting house but that's not quite so easy to do either no we've got what building set aside for The Distillery so we're we are working towards getting a Distillery on site but just distilling the grain that we're growing on the estate so we'll continue the the bond at Whiskey bonding side because I think that that that gives you so many different things you can play with we've got lots of different task finishes and lot lots of cast maturations coming down the line so we we we've got a lot of interesting things we can play with to make new whiskeys um and and I find that that's that's really interesting yeah so it's a singular stage will be a different product well maybe we'll see a hunting Gap at some point maybe you will I'll have to talk to my friends the Blackwater who got the Velvet cap yeah exactly you don't really want to be stepping too much on each other's toes well um so where can people find the Liberator where are you Distributing that right now uh we are in uh New York and New Jersey selected places uh through our distributor who also does uh online sales at adiaglobal.com a d y a g l o b a l.com um so uh whiskeys are available there and hopefully more widely throughout the the states in due course uh we're working on that uh but we're we're a small brand we have to be careful where we're where we're sending's not because we we want to be we want to to build the brand slowly and we want to keep the quality up and that's that's going to be a challenge over the years to to keep saying quality are you on the continent as well we are yeah we have a Germany and Finland and randomly we're in Shanghai as well and uh and yeah and Ukraine recently as well okay I see you I see you traveling around uh all the the I realized once I started connecting with whiskey people on LinkedIn how many whiskey uh events there are around to to keep you busy yeah yeah absolutely and uh and it's also I mean the these shows are really expensive so uh our food board beer uh is is very good at promoting uh Irish spirits and they've often got stands at these shows where you can perch and and uh and and and and uh so instead of having your own stand so that's been that's been helpful to us yeah so is the Lakeview estate is that available just in Ireland or is that available um Ireland and Germany just at the moment because it's it's uh that we've just brought out a second edition uh opportunity 500 bottles so uh the Irish Market has taken a lot of those already so so we will we will expand that uh um it takes time and and your uh wife Francesca is uh is actually managing your social media as I understand so yeah she does yes yes

she's actually in Portugal at the moment she moves in for me yeah so uh so there's a there's a couple of houses there that we want to get barrels from so uh we we sort of hoping that uh that uh she will be able to to open some more doors there yeah so uh where where can people connect with your brand at uh on Instagram uh and uh uh Facebook uh at Wayward Irish spirits

and on LinkedIn as well and all the other ones okay and your web address is www.waywardirish.com

all right it's fantastic well I should be more polished doing that on the screen yeah I can get punished later for not pushing social media more so oh I I hear you and it's the same thing sometimes I will when I'm promoting my books and stuff and I'm on a a podcast you would think that somebody who does podcasts all the time would be ready and prepared with that kind of stuff but for some reason it's always like oh wait where should I send people plus there's there's so many places to send people nowadays that it it becomes very difficult so um well thank you again for inviting me to the uh to the estate and to get a chance to to see things firsthand and um and for sharing your stories with me there and here on the podcast it's it's crazy thank you very much for having me it was really fun yeah and it'll be great uh now people will see your bottles on the shelf and they'll go I know the story behind though some of the story there's more yes yes well I'm sure we will see uh bottlings and hear more along the way so Morris thank you so much my pleasure thank you very much for having me

Listen To More Interviews