Monday 23 October 2017

Drumshanbo tells the world: 'Come, share a glass with us'

The Shed Distillery
The Shed Distillery
Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

Globetrotting monks planned to distil perfume when they brought the first copper stills to Ireland 800 years ago. It didn't catch on.

But the people found another application for the new science of distillation .

They created the first casks of uisce beatha, or whiskey as it later became known.

Whiskey was first recorded in Ireland in 1405 with the Old Bushmills Distillery in Antrim claiming to be the oldest surviving licensed distillery in the world. They claim a heritage dating back to a licence from James I in 1608.

Today in a small Leitrim village, the same ancient technology of copper stills will be used for the first distillation of spirits at "The Shed " - an artisan distillery that will boost a local economy hit hard by the recession.

Drumshanbo is sending out a global message: "Come, fill your glass with us".

It's Connacht's first distillation of legal spirits in over a century - though the craft never fully died out. This year, as usual, gardai are on the hunt for illegal poitin makers in the run up to Christmas.

The distillery will create jobs, restore lost skills, boost tourism development and make Drumshanbo the hub of new international brands.

The first cask will be sealed at the time of the solar transit - 12.23pm on Winter Solstice today. The Shed is the brainchild of Patrick J Rigney, the original founder of Boru Vodka and the tremendously successful Sheridan's Liqueur, which sells 300,000 cases a year, as well as creator of more than 20 different drinks.

It will produce hundreds of thousands of litres of handmade herbaceous gins, potato vodka, a variety of liqueurs and handmade Irish whiskies for the international market.

All of the spirits will be made in traditional medieval copper stills, with every part of the process managed by hand, allowing for a wide variety of batches, extensive experimentation with flavours and the creation of special editions. The multi-purpose distillery is the first of its kind in Ireland and has been supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland and by Bord Bia.

The distillery in Drumshanbo is the culmination of years of experimentation with recipes and new brands - which he can now take to the next level of provenance, focusing on the craft element.

One of the first products that will be ready next year is a Black Forest gateau liqueur - My Three Graces.

The new drink will rely heavily on locally sourced cream as one of its main ingredients.

Ten jobs will be created.

Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News