Pearse Lyons Distillery
Originally a church, the building was home to many businesses before falling into disrepair. The restoration cost upwards of €20 million and now hosts around 75,000 visitors per year.
It has been lovingly refurbished and manages to strike a balance between maintaining historical integrity and sleek modernization. The stained glass windows are a particularly wondrous touch. They center around Irish Whiskey traditions including: the pilgrimage known as “St. James’ Way” and Irish Whiskey’s journey from grain to glass.
Under the watchful eyes of Jack O’Shea, Pearse Lyons began distilling in Carlow in 2012 before they found their current premises in 2013.
Their two stills came from the United States and are named Little Lizzie and Mighty Molly, producing 10000 liters of whiskey per week. Mighty Molly is the larger wash still and Little Lizzie is the spirit still, which along with the bulbous pot also has a rectifying column on top.
The visitors centre opened their doors to the public in 2017 and currently offer a variety of tours hosted by “storytellers”, many of whom are trained performers. The tour includes an exploration of the surrounding graveyard where, unbeknownst to Pearse Lyons when he acquired the property, 4 of his own relatives are buried.
Like it’s sister distillery in the USA, which produces Town Branch Bourbon at the heart of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail the Pearse Lyons distillery takes a tactile approach, and walks the visitor through the distillation process from start to finish.
It’s founder, Mr Pearce Lyons, (1944-2018) was originally from Dublin and held a Ph.D. in yeast fermentation. He was the first Irishman to receive a formal degree in brewing and distilling from the British School of Malting and Brewing.
The distillery also produces a variety of gins and will open a gin school this year.
What visitors say