Despite the continued challenges in 2021 Micil, already renowned for its Poitín & Gin, is now adding whiskey to its repertoire and creating new jobs within its Galway team. And while its whiskey matures, it’s releasing two initial independently-bottled Irish whiskeys this Summer.
The barley, oats, wheat and rye traditionally used for poitín distillation have historically coincided with those used in the making of whiskey and the distilling techniques employed to make both have much in common. Before cask-aging was introduced, poitín and whiskey were essentially the same spirit, separated only by the buying of a licence.
Sixth generation Connemara distillers Pádraic & Jimín Ó Griallais are following a family tradition going back over 170 years when their Great-Great-Great Grandfather Micil Mac Chearra began distilling on a hillside in South Connemara.
Galway was also home to the renowned poitín makers of Connemara, illicit distillers who played a constant game of cat and mouse with the excise men and the forces of ‘the Crown’.
Micil Irish Whiskey will be shaped by applying its illicit distilling heritage and experience to explore the boundaries of Irish whiskey-making.
Rebirth of Galway Whiskey at Micil
“The success of Micil Irish Poitín, Micil Heritage Peated Poitín and the multi-award-winning Micil Irish Gin has enabled us to move into the next phase of our growth plan and begin laying down Irish whiskey,” commented Pádraic in celebrating the rebirth of whiskey distilling in Galway, “In January 2021 we filled our first casks with the new make spirit which will be Galway’s first Irish whiskey in over a century.
‘‘Our production capacity is perhaps the smallest of any whiskey distillery in Ireland. With our small single copper pot still, we can only produce a maximum of one standard 200 litre cask per week compared with the approximately 30 casks per week produced by some of the better-known ‘small’ Irish distilleries and the thousands of casks a week produced by the likes of Jameson and Bushmills. Our production methods are painstakingly slow and we do everything by hand with no automation. Our focus is purely on distilling spirits of exceptional flavour and quality, not on yields or profit margins.
“Our first runs have been peated single malts using 100% Irish barley, malted using Connemara turf from our family farm in Inverin. But as we ramp-up production we plan to continue to innovate, bringing the creativity and resourcefulness of the Connemara poitín distiller to the whiskey category.”
While its Galway whiskey matures Micil plans to release two independently-bottled Irish whiskeys this Summer to give consumers an immediate opportunity to connect with Micil-influenced whiskeys.
‘‘In an industry with its fair share of smoke and mirrors, it was imperative to us that we were distilling our own Irish whiskey here in Galway before releasing a product that we haven’t distilled ourselves, though we’re obviously finishing it in our own casks,” points out Head Distiller Jimín, “Three years is a long wait and in the meantime we wanted to give people a small taste of what’s to come. The important thing is to be transparent about things like this and that’s where we’ve seen other spirits companies fall short”.
Creating new jobs in Galway
As their portfolio grows so too does the business and Micil will create new employment opportunities there.
“To date it’s been a core of just myself, my brother Jimín and my Co-Founder Ross and it’s been hard going for us at times with lots of long days and sleepless nights in an industry dominated by huge multinationals with limitless funds,” remarks Pádraic, “But we recently hired Mark McLaughlin, one of Irish whiskey’s leading brand specialists and are currently in the process of recruiting a global sales manager for the business as well. These new additions to our team will provide valuable skills & experience as we grow’’.
Micil intends exporting too this year.
Along with expanding its team and building its portfolio the distillery is developing new platforms for consumers to join its journey, seeking out investment to solidify growth plans.
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Cap: Sixth generation Connemara distillers Pádraic & Jimín Ó Griallais.