Slane Distillery has the makings of a tourist’s dream – a castle and whiskey all in one place.
The distillery was built on the grounds of Slane Castle, a location more associated with music concerts over the past twenty years with the likes of Brice Springsteen, Rolling Stones and Oasis among the headliners that have introduced the castle to a whole new, younger audience.
The whiskey business is the brainchild of the Conyngham family; Henry Mountcharles and his son, Alex. Alex is no stranger to whiskey having spent time working for Irish Distillers in Australia.
Starting their own whiskey company in 2009 was as bold an idea as turning the castle demesne into a rock concert venue. Both have proved extraordinarily successful, though not without tremendous hard work.
The original distillery building structure dates back to the 1750s. As a heritage building it required considerable renovation and conservation work before opening to the public in 2017 after 2 years of construction.
The American whiskey company Brown Forman, makers of Jack Daniels, invested about €45 million in the project in 2015, keen to participate in the burgeoning Irish whiskey market.
The current Slane Irish Whiskey found on shelves around the world does not come from the distillery as they have yet to see mature stock, but was instead sourced from third-party Irish distilleries.
Slane Irish Whiskey is triple-casked in virgin American oak casks, seasoned Tennessee whiskey casks and Spanish Oloroso sherry casks.
The first spirit was distilled onsite in August 2018. The inaugural cask contains new make malt whiskey using barley harvested on the Slane Castle Estate filled into a sherry hogshead. It won’t be legally whiskey until 2021.
Now in full production, Slane Distillery has capacity to produce 600,000 cases and can accommodate about 40,000 visitors per year.