The Dublin trade tasting was attended by key bar owners and mixologists who were taken through the tasting by Alex Conyngham, Founder of the Slane Whiskey operation.
This roundtable lunch for Irish whiskey looked at global and local markets and all present were able to discuss the growth of the Irish whiskey market both worldwide and at local level in pubs.
The question for Brown-Forman had been whether to start an Irish whiskey company of its own or to buy one already in existence. It chose the latter and in June 2015 it bought 100% of the Slane Whiskey operation. It subsequently sold off its Southern Comfort and Tuaca brands to Sazerac for $543.5 million in March last year before buying Scotch distillery BenRiach last June.
While awaiting the completion of the building of the distillery, Slane purchases its malt and grain spirits supplies from other suppliers. These are then stored in three distinct cask types before blending to Slane’s specifications.
This triple-cask maturation through the use of the three different barrels allows Slane Whiskey to customise the final taste.
Some is stored in ‘virgin’ casks to provide a toasted oak/vanilla essence while other spirit is stored in seasoned bourbon casks that provide caramel, plum, banana and butterscotch essences. The third casks used are Oloroso Sherry casks from Spain which have stored Oloroso Sherry for a period of two years.
Toasting the barrels allows the sugars in the wood to be treated differently and as Brown Forman has the distinction of being the largest manufacturer of whiskey barrels in the world today it seems an economically efficient solution to achieving that essential Point Of Difference for the whiskey.
“With the building of Slane Distillery in Ireland, we’re investing in the future,” said John Hayes at the lunch, “We’ll leverage our barrel- and whiskey-making expertise to create world class whiskey, eventually offering a range of blended, pot still and single grain Irish whiskeys in the premium and super-premium segments.”
When in operational distilling mode, the whiskey will require 2,000 tonnes of Spring barley a year.
The first batch of Slane Irish whiskey has already been launched to market through Travel Retail at Dublin Airport which got the whiskey on 4th April.
Slane Irish Whiskey will be officially launched here in Ireland initially on 1st May with with a RRP of €33. A UK and New York launch follows later in May followed by a June launch in 10 European cities.
July will see it launched in selected US states with a high degree of Irish diaspora (mainly East Coast and Chicago).