Brown-Forman Corporation held its official ground breaking ceremony today for Slane Distillery, the company’s first entry into distilling Irish whiskey. Slane Distillery is also the first distillery built by Brown-Forman outside of the United States. The U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O’Malley, joined representatives from Brown-Forman and Slane Castle for the distillery’s official construction kick-off.
Slane Distillery, which will also include a visitor experience, is planned to open in late 2016. The new distillery will create nearly 25 new full-time jobs while the construction process will support approximately 80 jobs. The distillery is being built in the grounds of Slane Castle which is located in the middle of a 1,500 acre estate in the heart of Ireland’s Boyne Valley, 30 miles north of Dublin. Slane Castle is the home of Henry Conyngham, the eighth Marquess Conyngham, and his son, Alex Conyngham, the Earl of Mount Charles, whose family has been part of the Slane community for generations.
Slane Distillery in Ireland
“Brown-Forman brands are founded on heritage, quality and authenticity, and there is nowhere as real as this beautiful and historic part of Ireland,” said Lawson Whiting, Brown-Forman executive vice president and chief brands & strategy officer. “We will leverage our wood and whiskey making prowess to create world class whiskey at Slane Distillery.”
Stay Informed: Sign up here for our Distillery Trail free email newsletter and be the first to get all the latest news, trends, job listings and events in your inbox.
Ambassador O’Malley signed the first cask that will be filled with whiskey from the distillery. He was joined by Whiting as well as Brooke Brown Barzun, fifth generation family shareholder of Brown-Forman, and Henry and Alex Conyngham of Slane.
The distillery and visitor center, which is in the historic stables complex adjacent to Slane Castle, will involve the 18th century buildings being restored and converted to house both the production operations and the consumer experience. The first Slane Irish whiskeys will be launched to market in early 2017 – initially using high quality whiskey purchased from other Irish distilleries and finished to Slane’s exacting recipes and specifications while the first whiskey from the distillery is laid down to mature. Upon completion it will have a potential output of more than 600,000 cases.
And with today’s celebration of stables, stills and socializing working all three of my favorites at once, a virtual Trifecta as we say. I think our ancestors are all smiling down on us today.
~ Brook Brown Barzun, fifth generation family shareholder of Brown-Forman
“Whiskey by its nature requires a long-term approach, and we look forward to bringing people on a journey of discovery with us,” said Alex Conyngham. “We will offer a range of blended, pot still and single grain Irish whiskeys in the premium and super premium segments. Visitors will be able to come here and literally see where the grain is growing and how we are producing it with care.”
“This is a great coming together of two historic families – the Browns of Kentucky and the Conynghams of Slane. We are very proud to join forces to bring exciting new Irish whiskeys to the world. The commencement of work on the distillery is just a first step in developing a new Irish whiskey brand and welcoming guests to the new distillery,” said Henry Conyngham.
What is Irish Whiskey?
Key regulations defining Irish whiskey and its production were established by the Irish Whiskey Act of 1980, and are relatively simple.
The Whiskey Act of 1980 provides this legal definition of Irish Whiskey.
1.—(1) For the purposes of any statute or instrument made under statute spirits described as Irish whiskey shall not be regarded as corresponding to that description unless the requirements regarding spirits contained in subsection (3) of this section are complied with as regards the spirits.
(2) For any of the purposes mentioned in subsection (1) of this section spirits described as blended Irish whiskey shall not be regarded as corresponding to that description unless—
(a) the spirits comprise a blend of two or more distillates, and
(b) the requirements regarding spirits contained in subsection (3) of this section are complied with as regards each of the distillates.
(3) The following are the requirements referred to in subsections (1) and (2) of this section regarding spirits;
(a) the spirits shall have been distilled in the State or in Northern Ireland from a mash of cereals which has been—
(i) saccharified by the diastase of malt contained therein, with or without other natural diastases,
(ii) fermented by the action of yeast, and
(iii) distilled at an alcoholic strength of less than 94.8% by volume in such a way that the distillate has an aroma and flavour derived from the materials used,
(b) the spirits shall have been matured in wooden casks—
(i) in warehouse in the State for a period of not less than three years, or
(ii) in warehouse in Northern Ireland for such a period, or
(iii) in warehouse in the State and in Northern Ireland for periods the aggregate of which is not less than three years.
(4) For the purposes of subsection (3) of this section the alcoholic strength at which spirits are distilled shall be ascertained in the same manner as that in which such ascertainment is for the time being arrived at for the purposes of customs and excise.