Yesterday, Tuesday June 21st, Bernard Walsh officially opened his company’s incredible new distillery in Royal Oak, County Carlow. Walsh Whiskey are the company behind the popular Irish whiskey brands, Writers’ Tears and Irishman whiskey.
This new distillery is a large, yet extremely aesthetically pleasing building. Set on the grounds of Royal Oak, which boasts rolling green fields, 200 year old oak trees and a picturesque pond that doubles up as a source for cooling water. Inside the distillery itself the Walsh Whiskey team will use three gleaming new copper pot stills and two, forty plate, column stills to create 650,000 cases, or 8 million bottles, of Irish whiskey annually. They will produce all three styles of Irish whiskey, pot still, malt and grain.
The distillery actually had its first run on Easter Sunday, the 27th of March 2016, distilling a triple distilled malt. This stock was laid down and will begin to be released from 2019 onwards.
The whiskeys produced in the Walsh distillery will go to bolster the existing Writers’ Tears and Irishman brands in existing markets and allow the company to expand into untapped Asian markets. The company also plans on using the distillery to innovate within the core lines and perhaps looking to release future brands also. The team are sourcing top quality casks from around the world: bourbon barrels from Kentucky, Sherry Butts from Jerez, Rum casks from St. Lucia and Marsala wine casks which they are receiving from their partners Illva Saronno in Sicily.
These new variations in wood types is an exciting step forward for the whiskey category which has seen a dominance in ex-bourbon and sherry maturations for the last few years. Sourcing Marsala casks from their partners in Italy ensures that the team at Walsh will be able to ensure top quality barrels, whilst also securing future supply. Speaking to one of the representatives from Illva Saronno, he explained to me that they were extremely interested in experimenting and improving their casks for the production of Irish whiskey. As a big fan of Marsala wine and Marsala finished whiskeys I cannot wait to see what they end up producing! Marsala matured potstill anyone?
Speaking to Bernard I was delighted to hear that the current expressions of both Irishman and Writers’ Tears will continue in a long standing agreement with the current third party producers of the base spirits. Future expansions of these brands coming from the new distillery will be clearly indicated, running side by side with the current supply of stocks! It will be great to see the Irishman and Writers’ Tears stocks grow with Bernard’s own stocks from the South East.
Even though the distillery has just opened there are already very exciting things happening in Walsh’s Distillery. When touring the distillery some of the guests had the opportunity to experience some of the new make malt and grain spirit. The quality of the spirit being produced by this fledgling distillery is phenomenal. In particular the grain spirit was one of the nicest grain spirits I’ve had the opportunity to nose. Beautifully delicate on the nose with sweet, floral notes that left with me with great confidence about what will be produced by the Walsh team.
The Walsh team plan on having the distillery open in July for public tours, eventually hoping to greet guests to Royal Oak in the 18th century estate house adjacent to the distillery, “with a glass of whiskey by a warm fire”. A total of 75,000 “whiskey tourists” are expected to visit annually by 2021.