Copper and Cork

The three stills from Forsyths of Rothes sitting on the dock of the bay wasting time today, as they wait for traffic to die down so they can be moved to Midleton to take up residence at the back of the Garden Stillhouse, joining the other three massive stills there. The parking spaces on the streets in Midleton have been coned off to allow for manoeuvring, as this is how tight a turn it was the last time the distillery took an order of storage tanks:

The last time I met Richard Forsyth he told me that when the last trio of stills were delivered, they had trouble finding the owner of one car that blocked the street that runs alongside Midleton College – the narrowest part of the journey. Passing there this evening there was just the one sitting there amongst the cones. Here’s hoping the owner moves it before it gets crushed. They should be passing through town around now (9pm) so hopefully some peeps will get their cameras out and get some pics of them passing, as it may be a while before the boom gets so boomy that we need another three.

Update: Someone there had a camera:

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Told you that corner was tight.


Irish Distillers to invest over €10m in production capacity at Midleton Distillery

  • €10.5 million investment to support the Irish whiskey industry growth target of 300% by 2030
  • Investment will see Irish Distillers’ single pot still Irish whiskey capacity increase by over 30%
  • Three new copper pot stills to be commissioned and operational by June 2017
  • Project to support 60 jobs in Midleton during the construction phase

Dublin, January 19th 2017 – Irish Distillers, Ireland’s leading supplier of spirits and wines and producer of the world’s most well-known and successful Irish whiskeys, has today announced plans for a €10.5 million investment at Midleton Distillery, Cork which will see the company increase its single pot still Irish whiskey production capacity by over 30%. Three new copper pot stills will be installed at Midleton Distillery, ensuring that Irish Distillers continues to lead the global Irish whiskey renaissance and supporting the Irish Whiskey Association’s target of global growth of 300% by 2030. 60 jobs will be supported during the construction phase.

Irish whiskey is the fastest growing premium spirit globally and Irish Distillers has invested heavily to drive this growth. Since 2012, Irish Distillers has invested €120 million in the Midleton Distillery, €20 million at its Fox and Geese bottling facility in Dublin and is currently investing €100 million at its Dungourney maturation site. In August 2016, the company also announced an €11 million redevelopment project at the Old Jameson Distillery in Smithfield, Dublin to showcase the best of Irish whiskey to the 600,000 whiskey tourists that come to Ireland every year.

Commenting on the latest investment, Jean-Christophe Coutures, Chairman and CEO of Irish Distillers said: “Irish whiskey continues to enjoy phenomenal global growth, led by Jameson with sales of 5.7 million cases in 2016. Irish Distillers has been driving the growth of the category since 1988, a commitment further underpinned by investments of over €230 million since 2012. With this additional investment of over €10 million at Midleton Distillery, the home of Irish whiskey, we will ensure that we are positioned to meet growing global demand and support the growth of Irish whiskey in the international spirits category.

“We are seeing growth accelerating across Jameson and the wider Single Pot Still Irish whiskey range, such as Redbreast and Green Spot, and we will continue to direct our focus for growth here. With our increased production capacity, we are confident that the category will hit the ambitious targets set by the Irish Whiskey Association – increasing exports to 12 million cases by 2020 and 24 million cases by 2030.”

Paul Wickham, General Manager of Midleton Distillery added: “Single pot still Irish whiskey is the quintessential style of Irish whiskey which Irish Distillers saved from virtual extinction in the mid-1900s. Since then we have been investing to protect this traditional Irish whiskey style and today’s announcement will help us grow brands such as Redbreast and Green Spot Irish whiskey even further over the next 30 years and beyond.

“This investment will also see us increase our support for the wider Cork economy. All our barley comes from farms located within 100 miles of Midleton Distillery, supporting families who have produced barley for centuries. Using unmalted barley is a long-standing tradition of Irish whiskey and one which Irish Distillers continues, believing it contributes to the smooth characteristics of our products. At present, we spend €60 million annually on cereals, energy, capital projects and payroll in the local economy and this will increase with the installation of these new stills.”

The three copper pot stills, handmade by master coppersmiths Forsyth’s of Scotland and weighing a combined 24 tonnes, were delivered to Midleton Distillery on the night of January 18th. Each still has a capacity of over 75,000 litres. Installation has now commenced and the stills will be operational by June 2017.

Press release ends. Most notable is the fact that they have pushed out the boundaries of their barley sources from the previous 50km to a hundred miles. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if all of Ireland was a field of barley that grew non-stop all year round like a magic porridge pot, it would have trouble feeding Midleton distillery. The same is most likely true of the other big distilleries here – there is not enough barley in this country for all of them. The same is also true also of Scotland – and this is what makes Mark Reynier’s operation in Waterford so revolutionary. Of course, this is only one tragic blogger’s opinion and you should probably consume my conjecture responsibly. Or just watch this epicly-scored video of some big-ass pot stills heading east:




Goodbye, hello


“There are two kinds of Christmas people – those who like their Christmas lights to stay on solid and those who like them to blink. As a kid, I always had a thing for sitting in the dark and watching the lights blink on and off at random. In the end, what we have are these little, great moments. They come and they go. That’s as good as it gets. But, still, isn’t that great?”

Mark Everett of The Eels.

This time three years ago I was doing work I loved in a job I hated, with no end in sight and no way out. This time two years ago I was cashing my redundancy cheque and wondering what I was doing with my life, as my wife gave birth to our fourth child a few days later. This time last year I was in the toughest and best job I have ever had (in an emergency department), still wondering what I was doing with my life and, on a secondary note, how much longer my dad was going to be around. Obviously the last 12 months changed a lot of those things. Dad got sick, I left work to care for him, he passed away, I went back to work in a different department, and – one week before Christmas – we moved into the house I grew up in. It’s strange being here with them gone; there were four of us here once. But my own family is big enough now that it doesn’t feel empty, and for once my wife and I are in the unique position of living in a house large enough to be able to ask ‘where are the kids?’, as in our previous home – a three-bed semi – there was never a time when there wasn’t a child in the room with you, sort of like The Grudge, or the end of The Blair Witch Project.

I’m still trying to dig through my dad’s stuff, of which there is tonnes. A lot of it goes back to my great grandfather’s time – books from his time with the RIC in Bantry at the turn of the last century – and some from my dad’s family home in Clonakilty, like these two old pictures.


Of course, it was when I pulled them apart that the real gold was found.



Since then I’ve ripped up every old frame to see if I can find the rest of the George Roe Distillery poster, or more pub posters. Or at least I assume they came from a pub, given the way Ireland was about whiskey they might have been deemed perfectly appropriate for the home. They are certainly going to be for mine, as I’m reframing and hanging them. But the problem I now face is what to keep and what to discard – we are in the position of simply having too much beautiful, historic stuff. We thought we could sell some of it at auction, but incredibly, nowhere would take all my parents’ treasured antiques. We just donated most of the furniture to charity, where no doubt they will get picked up by an antique dealer for a few quid and sold on at auction for profit. Such is life. I just want them to be in a home rather than a landfill.

So 2016 is over. People came and went, lights went on and then went off. I had some highs, some lows, but generally it was all normal, natural stuff. My kids are fine, apart from my daughter having lupus and my three year old son being tested for an intellectual disability, but they are generally healthy, and, as far as I can tell, happy. They didn’t have an easy year, with all the things that happened and me disappearing out of their lives for three months to care for dad. My wife didn’t have it easy either, but now here we are, with a view from Cork city to Garryvoe, in a house with high ceilings, preparing for the rest of our lives. So it’s not all bad.

I rang in the new year with a drop of Ledaig 22 year old via Cadenheads. It was great, incredibly smooth, with an amazing, fruity, pear-drop camphor note. It didn’t have the length I expected, but made up for it in depth. I had plenty great drams in 2016, most of them while I lived here with my dad, all those special occasion bottles I ripped into on a nightly basis. I liked the green-apple freshness of the Hakushu NAS, the sweet, opulent Tyrconnell 10 madeira cask finish, the unfuckwithable sherry bomb that is the A’bunadh, and the oily, velvet smoke of the Laphroaig Quarter Cask. None of them costing a king’s ransom, and all the more enjoyable for it. Given that I now own a money pit that will consume all my meagre earnings like a sarlacc devouring an especially small bounty hunter, all drams from now on will be the best value my shekels can barter for. But you cut your cloth to fit your measure, and there is no way I could justify blowing a couple of hundred euro on a bottle. After all, it’s only booze.

So to the year ahead, and some of my great expectations. I’d like to win the Lotto, or just get more money through normal means, such as hard work or insurance fraud. I’d like to see Bushmills get their shit together and fulfill their potential. I’d like to see more distilleries getting set up here, and less shenanigans by bottlers slinging Cooley as though it were the second coming. If the IWA won’t tackle it, consumer pressure might – after all, one of the oddest things to happen to me during the year was being asked to go on Liveline to talk about one bottler’s spectacular displays of false provenance. When you’re being asked to talk to Joe, it might be time to stop claiming you can get ‘the taste of west Cork’ from something distilled and aged for ten years at the opposite end of the Irish Republic.

I’d also like to see the world not get blown up this year. Trump’s election was the first event to make me think ‘I sure am glad dad isn’t here to see this’. It’s hard to believe that less than a century after the Holocaust we are gearing up to goosestep down the same ashen path. I wrote some guff about him for the Indo, which you can read here, which led to me getting a name drop on the ‘what it says in the papers’ bit on Morning Ireland. So the rise of fascism has had some real positives for me. Sock it to us Quimby!

Trump’s id-driven tweeting also made me realise that I hate exclamation marks, and generally look down on people who use them, even though I chuck them into the odd tweet myself, usually to drive home some attempt at humour on someone I don’t know that well. So for 2017 – fuck exclamation marks. And Nazis, obviously.

Personal goals include getting back into the gym, reading more, writing more, and getting a lot better at photography, specifically night photography. Out here in the hills the night skies are the same awesome celestial panoramas as they were when I was a ten year old amateur astronomer, sitting out the front with my mum, staring up and and incorrectly naming the constellations. My adult attempts at capturing them on camera look like reverse Rorschach test cards. So that needs to improve. Or I just need to give up.

I’d also like not to lose any more people. It seems unlikely, given that some of the people I know are old, but as long as no-one who dies is under, say, 75, I think it will be fine. I’ve said enough goodbyes for a while.