Wednesday 17 July 2019

WATCH: First Look inside Diageo's new Roe & Co Distillery

Aine Kenny

Roe & Co Urban Distillery and Visitor Experience will open later this month.

Set to open its doors on June 21, the old Guinness Power Station has been regenerated into a visitor experience and urban distillery, right in the heart of the Liberties.

Diageo’s all-female leadership team comprising distillers, blenders, marketeers, bartenders and commercial specialists have helped make this project happen. 

Both men and women who are experts in cocktail making will guide visitors in how to create the perfect drink. 

The distillery is named after George Roe, a famous Irish whiskey distiller from the 1800s. He helped build the golden era of Irish whiskey.

The building itself has been rescued from ruin, as the Guinness Power Station officially closed in 1988. 

Visible from inside the restored building is the remains of the original Roe & Co distillery, which was once the largest distillery in Ireland. It closed in 1920s as a result of prohibition. 

A windmill tower with a teal roof and a pear tree are all that is left of the original distillery. This pear tree dates from 1850 and is the oldest fruit bearing tree in Ireland. However, the pears are too sour to go into the drinks.

When the project started three years ago, there was 100 pigeons and one fox living in the building.

The site now features a working distillery and guests will be shown the whiskey maturation process. Visitors will be able to see the shiny copper stills and hear the noise of production from an elevated glass walkway.

Room 106, named after the number of blends it took to perfect the Roe & Co blend, will offer a unique way for visitors to learn how to taste and appreciate whiskey. 

The whiskey itself has a poached pear and apple flavour with a buttery sweet note. There’s also a slightly spicy aftertaste. Think apple drop sweets, fudge and clove rocks. 

Caroline Martin, Diageo’s Master Blender said that the whiskey itself was challenging to make because it had to be flexible. "It needed to have three serves: neat, with a mixer and cocktail."

"It is a blended whiskey made of Irish malt whiskey and grain whiskeys. Then it is aged in bourbon casks, made from American Oak." 

The whiskey is 45pc, which according to Ms Martin was necessary. "The cocktail makers we consulted said at 40pc, it was being lost in the mix."

Lora Hemy is Roe & Co’s Head Distiller and she makes the whiskey. "It is great we could restore this building and name it after one of the great whiskey distillers. It feels right.

"George Roe was an innovator in his day, and this experience marries that ethos. I am also a big fan of the Liberties."

Later in the tour visitors will experience the Flavours Workshop, which demystifies cocktail making. Guests will explore the five pillars of flavour: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. 

At the end of the tour is the Power House Bar. It has a 1920s art-deco vibe and offers views of the remains of the Guinness Power Station. The cocktails served here are designed by people who have worked in the best 50 bars in the world. 

Each cocktail is named after a worker’s occupation in the Guinness Power Station, so you can treat yourself to a switchboard operator, turbine driver or machinery man. There’s even a simplified cocktail list at the back of the menu, so you can recreate these drinks at home. 

Gráinne Wafer, the Global Brand Director for Roe & Co, said that they specifically choose the old Guinness Power Station because of how iconic it was, and how close it was to the original Roe & Co. "Built in 1948, it is an architectural masterpiece. It’s just fabulous to bring this industrial building back to life.

"The Liberties is such a phenomenal area. Its full of creativity, imagination, hard graft as well. We have collaborated with lots of businesses in the local area, local gardeners completed the front garden which will eventually grow ingredients for our cocktails. Even the items in the shop are local teas, local coffees," Ms Wafer adds.

18 new jobs were created by this project. 

Tours cost €25 per guest and includes whiskey tasting, a flavours workshop and a complimentary cocktail in the Power House Bar. Tours run from 11am-5pm daily, seven days a week

Online Editors

Editors Choice

Also in Life