It’s always great to catch up with Gary McLoughlin and the Team at Glendalough Whiskey and learn about the latest piece of Whiskey Magic that they are weaving deep in Wicklow.
The last time I blogged about them it was to tell you about their Glendalough Single Malt with a Mizunara Japanese Oak Finish. Very much an acquired taste for a whiskey beginner with it’s rich, intense and slightly resinous sandal-wood notes. It was definitely one of my favourite Irish whiskey releases last year.
The Glendalough Distillery was set up by five friends from Wicklow and Dublin who shared a love of craft spirits. They eventually decided to leave the safety of their day jobs in Dublin and went into the mountains to take a chance on something more meaningful (much like the man on their bottle, St. Kevin). Together they built a craft distillery near their favourite spot in those mountains where they produce Whiskey, Gin and Poitín.
Glendalough ( In Irish “Gleann Dá Loch” meaning The Valley of Two Lakes) is a glacial valley nestled in the Wicklow Mountains renowned for its early medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin, a legendary monk. Monasteries like Glendalough were the birth place of distilled drinks and St. Kevin is an eternal inspiration for the Glendalough team.
The latest release from Glendalough is also quite unique. It’s a Non Age Statement Pot Still Whiskey which following normal maturation in American Oak Bourbon Casks has been finished for one whole year in Virgin Irish Oak Casks sustainably sourced by the Glendalough Team from Oak Trees harvested near their home in the Wicklow Mountains.
“There’s no more Irish a whiskey than pot still, so we felt it only fitting that it went into Irish oak”
said Kevin Keenan, Glendalough’s co-founder and Creative Director. “…Or Wicklow Mountain
Oak to be exact. We say sustainably, but it probably goes further than that”.
To nurture the health, and ensure the future, of Wicklow’s native oak forests, the trees used by Glendalough are felled under a ‘Continuous Cover Forest Management System’. This creates pockets of clearings for planting and nurturing the next generation of oak. Glendalough plant seven saplings for every tree they fell.
“One of the main things that makes Irish oak different is the amount and types of flavour it can get into the liquid” according to Kevin.
To honour these trees and the process of getting the taste of the Wicklow mountains into this whiskey, Glendalough Distillery have numbered each bottle, the batch, the cask it came from, and even right back to the tree from whence it came. A neck tag on each bottle directs you to www.glendaloughdistillery.com/irishoak where you can input the numbers from your bottle, and see a short personalised film of the specific tree being felled, and the actual cask your bottle came from being coopered.
This is not the first time that a Pot Still Irish Whiskey has been finished in Irish Oak. Some years ago, Midleton did something similar with their Dair Ghaelach Whiskey project which I reviewed back in 2015.
While Midleton Dair Ghaelach costs a whopping €300 a bottle, the good news is that Glendalough Pot Still Irish Whiskey will be for sale at a far more affordable €55. That’s a very reasonable price indeed to own a little piece of Irish Whiskey history.
Wicklow Irish Oak Finished Glendalough Pot Still Irish Whiskey (RRP €55) is exclusively available in Ireland for the next 6 weeks through the good folks at the Celtic Whiskey Shop in Dublin CelticWhiskeyShop.com. It will be widely available in Ireland from 25th November and is rolling out globally (in 40+) countries over October and November 2019.