Connacht unveils Irish single malt

by Kate Malczewski

Irish spirits producer The Connacht Distillery has debuted its flagship single malt, said to be the first whiskey distilled in County Mayo in more than 150 years.

Connacht finished construction on its €10 million (US$11.7m) distillery in Ballina in 2015 and began laying down whiskey in 2016 with the goal of producing a single malt. As they waited for the whiskey to mature, the team – led by master distiller Robert Cassell – created Conncullin Irish Gin, Straw Boys vodka and poitín, and sourced whiskeys Ballyhoo and Spade & Bushel. The producer gave collectors a first taste of its single malt earlier this year when it released 800 bottles from its inaugural cask, which retailed for €150 (US$175.12) each and reportedly sold out within weeks. Now Connacht has unveiled the first batch of its core whiskey to a wider audience. Killian O'Sullivan, commercial director for the distillery, said: “The launch of our first whiskey marks an exciting new chapter for the Connacht Distillery; it's not every day that you get to launch a new whiskey of such significance to not just the county of Mayo, but to the province that the distillery takes its name from. "When it comes to ageing whiskey there's no perfect time, just the right time, and we know that this is the right time to share our extraordinary liquid with everyone who has been watching our journey over the last few years.” The expression is made using 100% malted Irish barley, and is double distilled in copper pot stills designed and produced in Canada. The liquid is then aged in ex-Bourbon barrels and finished in ex-oloroso Sherry casks. On the nose, the whiskey is said to offer notes of raisins, honey sweetness, almond and star anise, while its palate brings vanilla, spices, dried fruit and malt, plus a full-bodied finish. Connacht Single Malt Irish Whiskey clocks in at 47% ABV, and is priced at €65 (US$75.88) per 700ml bottle. It is available to buy from The Connacht Distillery website and select retailers in Ireland. The producer plans to release the whiskey in the US, France and Germany soon.