Walsh Whiskey Distillery
On June 21st just past, the Walsh whiskey distillery was opened in Royal Oak county Carlow (Bagnelstown for those not familiar with the area). The €25 million distillery and visitor centre is aiming to produce 8 million bottles of whiskey annually; this represents about 9% of total Irish annual output!
Interested whiskey drinkers might know the current Walsh brands, the very well regarded Irishman and writer’s tears labels. Currently these bottles are produced by sourcing their base spirit from a third party before laying down the spirit in their own chosen casks. The intention is to use the distillery to increase the supply of these current brands and push into the increasingly important Asian market, where many of the burgeoning middle class across a number of countries are developing a taste for whiskey. This represents massive opportunity for Irish distilleries and can only be good news for the industry.
So while this is all great for the economy, we need to ask, as a whiskey drinker why should you be excited? Well having tried a number of the existing brands, including the highly recommended Irishman 12 I can safely say that an increase in the availability of Walsh whiskey is no bad thing. The plan is to experiment with a variety of casks including Marsala fortified wine casks from Italy and Rum casks from St.Lucia. This kind of experimentation and move away from the traditional sherry and bourbon casks adds a new dimension to Irish whiskey. Consumers will have to wait until 2019 in order to have a taste of Walsh’s offerings however, as the first casks were only laid down in early March this year.
There are already a number of rum and wine assisted whiskies out there but as a massive fan of rum cask whiskies in particular I’m looking forward to seeing what they produce. Rum casks produce whiskey which is sweet, syrupy and reminiscent of caramel. My personal favourites are Teelings Revival and Glenfiddich 21 Gran Reserva rum cask finish; both are at the higher end of the price scale but certainly worth the money.
With 55 new jobs being created in the enterprise and 75,000 tourists expected to visit annually by 2021 you now have an opportunity to get in before the rush. The Walsh distillery is already offering tours of the new facility and at €15 it represents a reasonably priced option on your doorstep to further your whiskey knowledge, can you really afford not to visit?