Whisky Magazine Issue 22
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The hands-on whiskey makers who have helped re-shape Irish whiskey, in conversation with Michael Jackson
1: The distiller
He looks the part (a hint of the leprechaun?) but Barry
Crockett does not make his whiskey under a toadstool. He was born in a distillery – Midleton, in County Cork – and came of age when the industry wanted to re-create itself.
MJ: People ask me what makes a whiskey Irish. There is also the question as to what makes a person Irish. I remember our chatting about this once over a drink in San Francisco. Romantics like to depict Ireland as a purely Celtic country, but I think your own blend – if you will pardon the expression – is more typical, isn't it?
BC: Barry is a Norman name. When the Normans came, the nearest part of Ireland was Cork. Round here, Barry is a typical surname. My maternal grandfather was called David Barry. Hs surname was passed on to me. Crockett may be a Huguenot name.
MJ: Ah, a French Scotsman, like the famous brewer John Courage? The Huguenots made an extraordinary contribution to the drinks industry.
BC: My paternal grandfather was of Scottish origin, but born in England. My father was the last Head Distiller at Watercourse. That was a long-established distillery in Cork city. It was owned by the Murphy family, who also owned the Midleton Distillery, on the site where we are now.
MJ: You were born and raised in the distillery. Actually on site…
BC: We lived in a house amid the distillery buildings.
MJ: A large cottage, a significant example of Georgian architecture. What are your first memories?
BC: I am not sur...