Visiting Walsh Whiskey Distillery
Nestled by a tranquil oasis along the banks of the River Barrow, complete with majestic oak trees, grazing horses and the light music of trickling water comes the new state-of-the-art distillery from Walsh Whiskey. Don’t be fooled by its lazy surroundings, this humble distillery is actually one of Ireland’s most productive! With an annual output of over 8 million bottles and with nine different expressions, many of which already considered old favourites, Walsh is leading the charge in what’s being referred to as the “Renaissance of Irish Whiskey.”
Receiving an invitation to tour the distillery, we were greeted by the wonderfully effervescent Woody who provided us with a thorough investigation of the entire premises as well as providing us with an in-depth narration on how whiskey is produced at this Co. Carlow location. Unusual by today’s standards, Walsh Distillery is a manually run facility, dependent on the skills and expertise of its employees as opposed to computers. It was by the sparkling new stills that Woody began proudly boasting of Walsh’s unique disposition of being the only distillery in Ireland that produces all three types of Irish whiskey in the same room: single grain, single malt, and single pot still.
“The Champagne of Whiskey”
Producing such varying styles of whiskey is not something Walsh undertakes just for the bragging rights, it’s paramount in producing Walsh’s range, a range which features a forgotten recipe once commonplace on bar shelves around the world. Woody told us stories of this “Champagne of Whiskey”, a long forgotten blending of single malt and single pot still whiskies which was only resurfaced by the distillers of Walsh. You can find them in your local under the names Writers Tears Copper Pot and The Irishman Founders Reserve.
Unlike most blended whiskies consisting of a single malt diluted with cheaper grain whiskey, Writers Tears Copper Pot and The Irishman Founders Reserve are all about the quality, demonstrating unique blends of single malt and single pot still whiskey exclusively aged in ex-Bourbon casks. Both whiskies feature the unmistakable sweetness of single malt, but this sweetness is complimented by the spice and depth of the pot still character.
We were then treated to further samples of the Walsh Whiskey range, a much welcomed closing act (to say the least!). For many of us, the highlights of Walsh’s range included The Irishman 12 Year Old Single Malt and Writers Tears Copper Pot, but we found it was Writers Tears Red Head that stole the show. A wonderfully complex single malt, Writers Tears Red Head is aged entirely in Oloroso Sherry casks providing the dram with a rich sweetness reminiscent of dried fruits, as well as a cinnamon spice to keep things interesting. At €49 a bottle, Red Head would be a welcome addition to any collection.
Typically for us here at The Whiskey Trail, our collective minds began racing with cheeses and chocolates to pair with the Red Head. A rich cow’s milk cheese was the obvious selection; one of our favourites sprung to mind: Durrus Cow’s Milk Cheese. Combining the creamy mouth feel of Durrus with the wonderfully sweet and spicy Writers Tears Red Head would be a match made in heaven! Check out our cheese blogs here to see what other cheeses and treats go well with Irish whiskies.
An informative and rewarding afternoon was had by all at the Walsh Whiskey Distillery at Royal Oak. Next time you find yourself down Carlow way, an excursion to this facility is an absolute must. We here at The Whiskey Trail on the other hand believe it’s a good enough reason to plan a little excursion to the sunny southeast on its own!
By Jonathan Dungan