The Blackwater Distillery is located in Ballyduff, near Lismore in Co Waterford. It opened in 2015 becoming Ireland’s 21st distillery.
Owned by Peter Mulryan and Kieran Curtin who are both former Irish TV personalities, they now, apparently, spend a lot of time washing bottles.
Their distillery takes its name from the nearby Blackwater river in Co. Waterford. The river’s Irish name is ‘An Abhainn Mhor’ which means ‘The Big River’ and is often associated with the mythological Salmon of knowledge.
Blackwater Distillery is a manual distillery; meaning it is filled to the brim with handles, levers, taps and dials. Everything is done by hand and eye. This invariably takes longer but is in keeping with the traditions the Blackwater team are working to emulate.
They have been producing Blackwater Number 5 gin since 2015 and distilled their first new-make whiskey spirit, a single malt, in 2018, casked on Christmas Eve.
After they had casked their inaugural single malt, they turned to making the quintessential Irish Whiskey, Single Pot Still.
Throughout 2019 they did a number of tests with different mashbills adhering to GI regulations.
Each of their GI compliant Pot Stills went into one of three different types of cask: ex-bourbon, ex-Oloroso and new European oak.
From February to September 2019 they distilled over 100 distinctive and different Single Pot Still mash bills before deciding to strip the whole process back and start over.
John Wilcox, the head distiller at Blackwater is keen to make their whiskey “the old fashioned way” by “putting flavor and not efficiency at the heart” of what they do. As a result in 2019 they only ran at close to 50% capacity.
Blackwater Distillery does not currently have a dedicated visitor centre but one is in the pipeline.
If you wish to visit this distillery, tell them you play an Irish musical instrument and you’re down for a session. Your chances of getting in will go up dramatically.