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Issue 86 - Kilbeggan's spirits rising

Whisky Magazine Issue 86
February 2010


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Kilbeggan's spirits rising

Iorwerth Griffiths looks at the latest developments as Cooley's distilling experiment comes of age.

The 19th of March, 2007 was a momentous day in the history of Irish whiskey. A famous old distillery that had been silent distilled again.

That distillery was the Cooleyowned Old Kilbeggan Distillery and now the spirit that was distilled on that day and since is about to become Irish whiskey.

In those three years a lot has happened at Kilbeggan and there are interesting plans afoot for its future.

Firstly, the fabric of the building has been given some TLC. Cooley has employed a stonemason in a full-time capacity to restore and upgrade the stonework without compromising the history that permeates every inch of the place.

Changes have also happened on the distilling side. In 2007 the all-malt low wines came from the Cooley Distillery in County Louth and were put through the one still that had been installed at Kilbeggan. The still is probably the oldest operating pot-still in the world.

Curiously shaped by modern standards and having a capacity of 2000 litres, it was built in 1802 by Millar & Sons, Dublin for the old Tullamore Distillery and was used there until the 1890s when its stills were upgraded. It was rescued by Cooley from the silent Tullamore Distillery and refurbished by Forsyth's in Glasgow. It's similar in shape to the one used at Kilbeggan in the 1780s and in fact sits in the very same spot.

For the first two years the low wines from Cooley were given a second distillation in this old pot and stocks of would-be double distilled malt whiskey were laid down.

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