Centuries-old oak tree repurposed for rare Irish oak whiskey casks

Boann Distillery and Kentucky Bourbon Barrel collaborate to transform a historic oak tree into casks for Preston's Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Pictured: Peter Cooney of Boann Distillery; Ian Leonard and Mark Quick of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel (Photo by Brian Connolly)

A thousand-year-old wild Irish oak tree toppled by a storm is set to be resurrected as rare Irish oak casks skilfully crafted in Ireland. 

In a unique project between Boann Distillery – also in Meath – and Kentucky Bourbon Barrel cooperage in Kildare, the storm-battered oak will be transformed into barrels that will age and produce Preston’s brand of Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey.

The Preston family, who reside on Swainstown Farm, are descendants of the renowned Preston’s of Drogheda, Co Louth – operators of a major whiskey bonding business for almost a century from 1886.

A large section cut from the lower body of the tree will now be shipped to a facility in France, where it will be split and made into staves and air-dried for 24 months. 

The staves will then be transported back to Kildare where coopers will turn them into 3 to 4 Irish Oak casks before they are filled with a unique mashbill to reproduce Preston’s whiskey.

Peter Cooney, co-founder, Boann Distillery, said: “It is extremely rare that Irish oak is used to craft casks, making this a unique project.

“I made a deal with Arthur Preston that, in return for the casks I gave him for his Swainstown Farm shop, he would let me know when an old Irish Oak tree on his grounds would become available for cutting. 

“With this venture we will revive traditional whiskey cask crafting in Ireland using Irish oak from a tree that stood for over 1,000 years, so we are naturally very excited about this whole project.” 

The Preston’s mashbill that will be laid down once the casks are ready is secret Vintage Mashbill XI from the Boann’s 2021 Vintage Mashbill Project.

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