This week our Irish Whiskey News features articles on the opening of Achill Island Distillery and whether oats will make a comeback in Irish whiskey mash bills.
So let’s see what’s happening this week in our Irish whiskey news.
The first island-based distillery in Ireland has been developed by Irish American Trading Company, who invested over €4 million in the project with the support of Údarás na Gaeltachta. The company estimates it will provide up to 25 jobs, across the distillery and visitor centre, when it is fully operational and at capacity in the coming years.uring the heyday in the mid-1800s, nearly 90 licensed distilleries dotted Ireland’s countryside, according to the trade group Irish Whiskey Association (IWA). Most were independent operations. But those numbers whittled steadily over time, thanks to a range of political, social and economic factors.
Irish American currently produces two brands of whiskey: it’s Irish American Classic Blend and it’s Irish American Ten-Year-Old Single Malt. At present, Irish American sources its whiskeys from existing distilleries in Ireland and blended into their own brand, but the whiskey will be distilled from scratch in their Achill distillery, with production due to start at the end of July.
CEO of Irish American John McKay told The Mayo News that he was delighted to locate their first distillery in Achill and wanted it to be a landmark on the island for many years.
“The long-term plan is that the distillery will be a landmark for future generations of people living and visiting Achill. We hope to produce more whiskeys and Achill will be included in the brand. When the distillery is at full capacity further down the road we hope to increase the number of staff to 25 people,” he said.
The humble oat was once a common component in the production of Irish whiskey, but a series of legislative and economic events caused it to gradually fade from use. As interest in the grain returns, whisky makers – including those from Scotland – are exploring the unique flavours oats can bring to whisky. Dave Broom investigates.
In other words, whisky made from oats have been around for a long time. There are occasional references to the grain being used in mash bills in Scotland from the end of the 18th century, right up to the 1908 Royal Commission. It played a far more significant role in the evolution of Irish whiskey, however.
In his history, Irish Whiskey, EB McGuire writes: ‘Before a duty was imposed on malt in 1785, distillers malted both barley and oats, but when the duty was levied it was assessed on volume and as oats swell much more than barley when steeped, malting oats became prohibitive.’ Not that they stopped being used. Illicit distillers used them because McGuire attests, the grain ‘produced a better-flavoured whiskey’.
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