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Issue 78 - Rural delights

Whisky Magazine Issue 78
February 2009

 

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Rural delights

Gavin D Smith looks at the huge distilling complex at Bandon.

Most whisk(e)y aficionados are aware that Midleton in County Cork is at the heart of the Irish whiskey industry and home to a large-scale,modern distillery, as well as the Old Midleton distillery which is a highly-popular visitor attraction.

However, not many people realise that the county was also home to Ireland's largest 19th century rural whiskey-making operation in the shape of Bandon distillery.

Bandon was located close to the town of the same name, some 18 miles west of Cork City,where seven distilleries were operating by 1807. Along with Dublin and Belfast, Cork was one of the major distilling centres in Ireland,and during the 1820s, distilleries were established in County Cork at Riverstown and Midleton, as well as Bandon.

The creation of these newcomers was precipitated by the enlightened 1823 Excise Act, which encouraged legal distilling in Scotland and Ireland. At Bandon, James C Allman converted a mill dating from around 1700 into a distillery in 1826, although there is no record of what distilling experience the Allmans had, or how they financed the new venture. By 1846 the business was in the hands of Richard Allman, and in 1881 was jointly owned by RL and James C Allman, trading as Allman and Company.

The Allman family was to own Bandon distillery throughout its entire existence.

During its early years of operation, Bandon produced some 60,000 proof gallons of spirit per annum,but shrewd business practices ensured steady growth, and by the time the writer...

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