Sunday 19 October 2008

New Irish distillery!

I've been sitting on this news for weeks but The Porterhouse brewing company and pub chain has finally taken the wraps off its plans to start a new Irish whiskey distillery in Dingle, Co Kerry.

I spoke to The Porterhouse guys at the Drinks Festival in Farmleigh last month, including with managing director, Oliver Hughes. They told me of their commitment to producing the best whiskey in the Irish tradition. This will mean a triple distilled, pure pot still style rather than single malt. They will also take a very fine cut from their still.

The cut is that portion of the distillate that proceeds to the next stage. Typically the first (heads or foreshots) and last (tails or feints) portions of the still output are drawn off and returned to the still for redistillation. The rest - the middle cut - proceeds to the next stage. The Porterhouse intends to keep this middle cut narrower than strictly necessary to obtain a more refined spirit.

John McDougal, former head distiller with Laphroaig, has been tapped for his expertise in whiskey production. Equipment will be sourced from Forsyths in Scotland.

So, how long must we wait for the first sip of whiskey from Dingle? The company has just applied for planning permission and hopes to see the stills fired up by the end of 2009. This will mature for at least four years (in ex-bourbon and, interestingly, port casks) before bottling as whiskey. So we won't get a taste before the end of 2013 at the earliest.

The company will make gin in the meantime, however, since this does not require maturation. A visitor centre is also planned so we should be able to watch the spirit being made even as we await the first whiskey.

This is very exciting news and I wish the best of luck to The Porterhouse in their new, €8m venture. Needless to say, I'll be following progress closely.