Quality & Commitment
The quality of the whiskey produced here is some of the finest in Ireland. The distillery holds the globally recognised Origin Green Certification for sustainable production and is committed to the strict geographical indication protection guidelines for Irish whiskey, which was introduced in April 2019. We chose this distillery for its expertise in both pot still and column still distillation, hence it produces a diverse range of Irish whiskey spirits including grain, double malt, triple malt, peated malt and pot still whiskey. They currently operate to a capacity of 16 million litres of whiskey spirit and also operate a small gin still. The first 3-year-old matured Irish whiskeys produced at the distillery came of age during 2018. The primary market for our partner distillery is private labels, contract distilling, retail own label and supplementing spirit and whiskey for smaller distilleries in both Ireland and international markets.
Dundalk Brewing & Distilling
The town of Dundalk has always been ideally suited to foster a distilling industry with its access to the purest water from the nearby Cooley Mountains.
Since the late 1600s, brewing has been at the heart of the town, with The Dundalk Distillery operating between 1708 and 1926. Two of the distillery buildings, the grain store and maltings, still exist and now house the County Museum and Dundalk Library.
Our partner distillery was founded on the site of the former Great Northern Brewery in Dundalk, Co. Louth in Ireland. The original brewery on-site was established in 1896. Diageo’s association with brewing in Dundalk dates back to the late 1950s when up until 1960, the brewery had produced stout and ale. However, in response to an increased demand for lager at that time, Guinness converted the brewery into a modern lager operation which saw the creation of Harp Lager.
The Great Northern Brewery was the second largest brewery in Ireland until its closure in 2013 and subsequent takeover in 2015 by our partner distillery.
Production of Malt, Pot Still and Grain Spirit
The distillery has well-established relationships with suppliers of the finest grains both in Ireland and internationally for use in its whiskey production. Malted barley (barley which is steeped, germinated, and partially kilned) is sourced from the finest malting houses in the east of Ireland. Un-malted barley is also sourced for pot still production as well as peated malt used in peated whiskey production.
Milling & Mashing
The incoming grains at the distillery are screened and transferred to storage silos. The grains are then wet-milled, exposing the inside of the grain, to form a grist. The grist is then mixed with hot water in the mash and later turned to facilitate the starch conversion process which enables the starches to change into fermentable sugars (wort).
The wort is then transferred to the wash-backs and yeast is added. The yeast converts the sugar in the wort to alcohol which is known as wash.
For malt and pot still spirit batch production, the wash is heated in copper pot stills. The heating causes the alcohol to boil and the alcohol vapours rise up the neck of the still and be cooled in the vapour condenser. This process is repeated to produce ‘new fill’ which is usually distilled three times in three separate copper pot stills. The distiller can create different flavour styles of malt and pot still spirit by altering the timing of cuts during the pot still distillation.
The spirit alcohol is reduced in the spirit vats with pure reverse osmosis water prior to casking. The malt and pot still spirit is reduced to customer specifications with a typical casking A.B.V. of 63%. They predominately use select American White Oak (Quercus Alba) ex-Bourbon casks which typically have a capacity of 200lt. They also source a range of other specialist casks including sherry butts, port, rum and wine casks for both maturation and whiskey finishing.
Maturation / Ageing
During the cask maturation process, the spirit profile is developed with changes in both flavour and colour. To be classed as Irish whiskey, the spirit is required to remain in a cask for a minimum of 3 years and 1 day. However, many whiskeys are matured for much longer.