Irish Distillers welcomes new cooper after 45 years 

Derek Cronin has successfully completed his four-year apprenticeship under master cooper Ger Buckley

Pictured: Derek Cronin of Irish Distillers at the Cooperage in Midleton (Photo by Cathal Noonan)

Irish Distillers has announced the appointment of its second new cooper in more than 45 years.

Derek Cronin, who originally trained as a carpenter, has successfully completed his four-year apprenticeship under master cooper Ger Buckley.

A cooper is trained to make and repair wooden casks that play an important role in the whiskey production process, as the contribution from the wood has a significant impact on the flavour profile of the final liquid.

The apprenticeship provided Cronin with the opportunity to travel the world, spending time in Scotland, France and Spain working in a number of cooperages broadening his coopering skills and knowledge.

Prior to joining Irish Distillers, Cronin trained as a carpenter and spent seven years living in Australia honing his craft. Upon his return, he worked as a carpenter with PJ Hegarty & Sons in Cork before joining Irish Distillers as a general operative in 2019. Eager to return to his passion of craftsmanship, Cronin commenced his apprenticeship to become a cooper in 2020.

In his new role, Cronin, who is registered with the Scottish Cooperage Federation, will be responsible for the repair and maintenance of over 2 million casks on site in Midleton, as well as participating in various coopering and cask related projects in the distillery.

Midleton currently has two working cooperages with one based in the old Midleton distillery and a new cooperage located within the Spirit Store at the main distillery.

Derek Cronin, cooper, Irish Distillers, said: “Having trained and worked as a carpenter, I’ve always had a passion for craft and working with tools. When I joined Irish Distillers, I was immediately struck by Ger’s skill and knowledge and really admired his passion for the ancient craft of coopering. It’s what inspired me to train as a cooper. It has been a privilege to work so closely with Ger over the last four years, learning about the craft and the history. I look forward to continuing to learn from Ger and expanding my knowledge and skills.”

Ger Buckley, master cooper, Irish Distillers, said: “Training Derek in the art of coopering for the last four years has been a wonderful experience. His background in carpentry enabled him to hit the ground running and he has truly immersed himself in every aspect of the craft since the beginning, ensuring that the future of this age-old craft is in safe hands.”

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