Micil Distillery Takes On Parliament Whiskey

17 Mar 2021 | 11.16 am

Micil Distillery Takes On Parliament Whiskey

Connemara drand adds to poitín and gin portfolio

17 Mar 2021 | 11.16 am

To celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, Micil Distillery has announced it is distilling and laying down Galway’s first Irish whiskey in over a century.

Sixth generation Connemara distillers Pádraic and Jimín Ó Griallais (pictured) are following a family tradition going back over 170 years, when their great-great-great grandfather, Micil Mac Chearra, began distilling on a hillside in South Connemara.

Micil Distillery makes poitín and gin and the brothers says they will be applying their ancestors’ illicit distilling heritage and experience to explore the boundaries of Irish Whiskey making.

Before cask ageing was introduced, poitín and whiskey were essentially the same spirit, separated only by the buying of a license. Poitín is known as ‘fuisce’ in the Irish language still spoken in South Connemara today, while the legal spirit is known as ‘parliament whiskey’.

In 1911 the last of the great Galway distilleries closed its doors at Nuns Island, and legal whiskey production ceased in the county. However, poitín/’fuisce’ distilling continued in Connemara.

Pádraic Ó Griallais commented: ‘I founded Micil Distillery in 2016 in honour of my great, great, great grandfather Micil, with the dream of being the first in my family to distil legally. The success of Micil Irish Poitín, Micil Heritage Peated Poitín, and the Micil Irish Gin has enabled us to move into the next phase of our growth plan and begin laying down Irish whiskey.

“In January 2021 we filled our first casks with the new make spirit which will be Galway’s first Irish whiskey in over a century. Our production capacity is perhaps the smallest of any whiskey distillery in Ireland. With our small single copper pot still, we can only produce a maximum of 1 standard 200 litre cask per week.

“Our first runs have been peated single malts, using 100% Irish barley, malted using Connemara turf from our family farm in Inverin. Our whiskeys will draw heavily on our 170 years of distilling knowledge, our historic mash bills, and our Connemara terroir & provenance.”

While their own Galway whiskey matures for the legal minimum of three years, Micil plan to release two independently bottled Irish whiskeys in the summer of 2021.

Head distiller Jimín commented: ‘In an industry with its fair share of smoke and mirrors, it was imperative to us that we were distilling our own Irish whiskey here in Galway before releasing a product that we haven’t distilled ourselves, though we’re obviously finishing it in our own casks.

“Three years is a long wait, and in the meantime we wanted to give people a small taste of what’s to come. The important thing is to be transparent about things like this, and that’s where we’ve seen other spirits companies fall short. It means a lot to us, we’re first and foremost distillers after all. It’s in our DNA.”

 

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