Wednesday, 4 February 2009

New still for Kilbeggan

The big whiskey story in 2007 was the recommencement of distillation at Kilbeggan after a pause of more than 50 years. Cooley bought the old distillery (which by this time had become a museum) in 1988 as a place to mature its own whiskey. But the intention was there from the beginning to eventually bring the distillery back to full operation.

The all important stills were gone from Kilbeggan but Cooley managed to source replacements from the defunct B. Daly distillery in Tullamore. It ended up with one small and three large copper pot stills, and a copper column still.

The small pot still was restored, a boiler installed, and production resumed on the site on March 19th, 2007. Since there is only one pot, the first stage of distillation happens at Cooley's main plant in Louth and the "low wines" are transported to Kilbeggan where they receive the second, and final, distillation.

While the result naturally shares much of its character with spirit distilled entirely at Cooley, the smaller pot still produces a lighter spirit. The first matured whiskey from this still might be ready for release as early as 2011.

In early April Cooley expects to take delivery of a new still at Kilbeggan. It has been made by Forsyths of Scotland to much the same design as the existing still, including the distinctive rivetting. It will be larger though - 3,000l capacity compared to the 2,000l of the old still.

Mashing and fermentation will continue to take place at Cooley but now the wash will be taken directly to Kilbeggan where it will first be distilled in the new, larger pot, then in the old one. At some point, it is intended to distil three times by using the new still twice.