Whisky Magazine Issue 15
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Charles Maclean talks to Barry Crockett, Master Distiller at Midleton Distillery
CM I believe distilling is in your blood?
BC Yes. My father worked as a distiller all his life. He started out in the Cork City Distillery, which made Cork Dry Gin and then moved to become Head Distiller at the ‘Old' Midleton Distillery. Only when this distillery closed in 1975 did he retire. As you know, the old distillery is now The Jameson Heritage Centre. When the
building of the present Midleton Distillery started in 1973 I was closely involved in the commissioning work.
CM What was the thinking behind building a huge new distillery at Midleton?
BC The Irish Distillers Group came into being in 1966, when the few surviving family firms (principally Jameson's, Power's and Cork
Distilleries) decided to combine resources to fight for a share of the world whisky market which, by this time, was dominated by Scotch. I say ‘by this time' because 100 years before this the market was dominated by Irish whiskey! In the 1960s, the Irish government was keen to boost exports – a trade agreement with the UK in the mid-60s was the first sign of a wish to encourage free trade. Irish Distillers were quick to take advantage of this new openness. Market research into the image of Irish whiskey suggested that traditional whiskey was too ‘heavy' for the international palate. To win market share we had to make it more accessible. This demanded a close look at plant, distilling regimes and wood policy – in truth, the brewing and distilling equipment hadn't really changed much...