On this edition of Barrel Room Chronicles, I tour Clonakilty distillery with Founder Michael Scully and taste through their core expressions. Then later in the show I speak with master distiller Oisin Mulcahy about his whiskey journey. Then lastly, I catch up with Co-founder Sean Scully and talk about their new distribution partner for the US.
The Scully’s are the founders of Clonakilty distillery. The Scully’s have farmed this windswept coastal land for 9 successive generations. With the best resources that nature has to offer, prime land, pristine water and salt sea air, they had the perfect ingredients for a maritime distillery.
The Scully’s grow their own heritage barley on their farm in the shadow of the Galley Head lighthouse. Centuries of sea mist, soft rain and ocean spray provide a complexity to the soil that permeates through to each individual grain.
Perched 200ft. above the ocean, their Atlantic Ocean warehouse is ideal for maturing the finest of whiskeys. Pure clean air, transported across thousands of miles of the Atlantic, provides a freshness unspoiled by human intervention.
Located at the waterfront, in the heart of Clonakilty town, the three gleaming copper pot stills are an inspiring sight to behold. It is here that the Scully’s distill their award-winning new make, alongside their visitor experience and shop. This is where the magic starts, and is the home of Clonakilty whiskey.
To learn more about Clonakilty’s fine spirits, visit https://clonakiltydistillery.ie/
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It is 05:00 somewhere. And you've tuned in to season two, episode three of BRC. For those of you who'd like to. Watch this episode, I highly recommend it. We're live and in person on the Emerald Isle.
You can view season two on our website, YouTube and spotify. Today on the show, I tour Clonic Hilty Distillery with founder Michael Scully and taste through their core expressions. Then later in the show, I speak with master Distiller Oshin Mo Kehi about his whiskey journey. Then, lastly, I catch up with Kofa under Michael Scully and talk about their new distribution partner for the US. Stay with us.
Hello, everybody. My name is Michael Scully. I'm the founder of Planetary Distillery, and it's my pleasure to introduce you to our distillery and our brand and our brand story. It's pretty obvious that we make our whiskey here by the waterfront in the center of Plane Guilty. It's a beautiful town.
It's a great history. You can see from the screens here, a lot of famous people have come from fanaticality. From a us perspective. Probably most famous was John F. Kennedy's great grandfathers with Born on Zebra thon in 1836.
And Henry Ford's father, William, actually left the town of Bellaskirt. He just missed a Panic Healthy in the mid 1800. So we were proud of a lot of people here. Michael Scully, the great freedom fighter, of course, he's synonymous with the name of Panic Guilty and one of the most famous people in Ireland. We talk here about the town.
It was a trading town, very much known for its smuggling, actually. And that was when smuggling was a very respectable profession because we were able to actually not pay our taxes to the English landlords at the time. So that was looked down nicely. There was a number there was four famous smuggling families in the tankilty area. One of those were the DCs, and they later became known for their brewing.
And they founded Famous DC's Brewery in Tanakilty. It actually beat Guinness into second place at the Great Warfare in Chicago in 1893. And as you can see, even though DC has never made whiskey, they actually bought a lot of whiskey for other people. And the bottle here, which they made back at the turn of the century, is very similar to the calculator bottle that we have today. The graphics that we have here in our center is very much tells our brand story.
You can see the galley headlighthouse here where we grow our barley and the bales swimming outside that has actually a picture of these brewery here, where you can see there's a story where the walkers at the time, they actually were able to smuggle up some beer and drink drink their beer at the apex of the roof. So we go on here. We talk about the Scully family. That's my family. We go back for now nine generations in the same family farm.
Over 320 years, probably one of our more famous ancestors was Paul Rigo. He was a poet and he was a rebel. And he fought in the famous Battle of the Big Cross, which was United Irishman, 1798. Raising justice, said Connor, guilty. And in fact, the musket that he used at that battle and fired in anger of his stimulk position.
This is a picture of it here. Yeah. So Podrigog eventually had to flee to New York, and he lived for some time in New York while he was locked up by the British and came back home in about 1814, visiting his final years. He was a poet and he wrote a famous Irish poem called Cablay of Wehalik, which is one of the only eyewitnesses accounts at the time of 1798 for posing. And that is still taught in schools and the universities in Ireland today.
Wow. So we're very proud of Padre Gold. Michael, thank you so much for taking me down here. Before we get started on our interview, I hear you have your three year old new make that's actually your own stuff that you're going to be getting to make into your own whiskey without doing any sourcing. Is there any way I can taste a little of that?
We can. We have a little drop. It's officially called whiskey now, actually. So on the 1 May this year, it became three years old. We're not releasing it yet, but we're going to wait till it's really great.
So this is one of the first tastes you'll get of Planet Kilty whiskey, not available publicly on the market. This is our own single pot, still Irish whiskey, made from or barely grown at the galley head. It's not finished yet. We're going to finish. So it's spent its life so far in a bourbon cask, and we will be finishing it possibly in Cherries or ports or a bit of a virgin oak.
We have to decide yet. It's really fruity. Yeah, it's got a good fruit on the nose. It's very light in color. Very light.
You can see that. Yeah. All right. This is the one that won the world's best new make three years ago. Oh, that definitely is a whiskey.
It does not even taste like a three year old. It tastes older than that. So that's impressive. Yeah. We are really happy with this and we really think that this will be a great whiskey in another two years’ time.
We couldn't be happier with it. Great. Let's head on over to the table and taste the rest of this. Yeah, sure.
Michael, how are you today? Very good, thank you. Kerry. Good to meet you. It is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful distillery.
I know from the pictures that you sent the last time we had you on Spirits of Whiskey, it was fantastic. And now you just took me round and showed me all the wonderful things. And today we have four different expressions. That we're going to talk about and I see you have even more back here. Are these the four that are currently available in America?
Yes. Well, we have yeah. So I suppose our best known expression would be Clonakilty double oak, which is the one with the blue label here. That's a blend of malt whiskey and grain whiskey. Roughly 50 50.
The age would be from five to seven, eight years old. Or thereabouts, this is finished in starts life in an American bourbon barrel, and then it would be finished in virgin American oak barrel, and also what we would call a NEOC cask, which would be a shaved and toasted X Bordeaux red wine cask. Oh, wow. Okay. Very popular.
And this whiskey actually has won a double gold in San Francisco two times. Great. So it's our flagship and very proud of it. Okay. And then which one was the next off the line here?
So the next off the line would be the red one here, which is the port cask finish. So, again, it's really interesting because it starts off with exactly the same liquid base as the double oak, except this is finished in port casks that we import from a porto in Portugal. Nice and slightly sweeter and something we're really proud of. Very cool. And then what's this green one here?
So the green one is one of our private barrel select so we're doing a private barrel select program in America, which is very unique. We think we're the only Irish whiskey distillery or one of the very few Irish whiskey distilleries that are doing this. That's where we'll invite people to our warehouse if they like to pick out a barrel, and we will bottle it for them. And typically, as in case this one here, this is limited to only 300 bottles from a single barrel. It's finished in a Chateaulet Cardon casks, which is Bordeaux red wine.
And this is one of the many barrel selects that we have done for the US market quite recently. And is this the only type of finishes that you use for this or. You can use we have 20 different finishes. We do anything from wine to port to cognac to stout to lots of different Riva salt, which is a very unusual different wine cask finish, actually, sherry cask finishes. So we do quite a range.
Great. And then what's this last one here? And the last one is our 15 year old, which is available in limited quantities in the US market. It's a really special whiskey. It's single malt and aged for 15 years old.
And was that one sourced and then you aged it longer, or is that original? Yeah, all of our whiskeys at the moment in this range are sourced. We started distilling on the 1 May. We filled our first cats 1 May 2019. Okay.
That was three years old about six months ago. So we expect to be launching that on the market when it's around five years old in 2024. Oh, great. We will probably add some of that next year to our core expressions. And what we make ourselves, by the way, is a single pot still.
So our distillery is specially designed, one of the very few in Ireland from day one, to be a single pot still distillery. So what we make ourselves is exclusively single pot still, which is a mixture of malted and unmalted barley. And I hear you guys have your own barley farm. Yeah, well, I'm a farmer by trade. I'm 8th generation.
My son, who's following in the business, is now 9th generation in the family business. And we farm by buddy galley head on the edge of the ocean. It's the most southerly warehouse and the whiskey warehouse on the island of Ireland. And we grow our own barley right on the edge of the ocean. That's not enough just to supply all our requirements here.
So we actually contract in local farmers, generally within a five or six mile radius of county as well, to supply us with their barley this year gives. A good idea of the distillery and the business and everything else. As you can see, we're here right down in the south coast of Ireland. Actually, our whiskey warehouse is the most. Southerly whiskey warehouse in the island of Ireland.
And this is in a close rope drawing here. So we have the distillery in the town of Plant. Guilty. About 5 miles away is the family. Farm, which goes back nine generations.
We grow our barley here by the. In the in the shadow of the galley headlighthouse. And our whisky warehouse is right on the edge of the ocean. And I believe that later on in the program we're going to get an opportunity to see that at all. In this story, we use our own well water from the family farm, fewer.
Clean, unspoilt well water. And we grow our barley in the. Locality, on the farm and with other farmers in the locality. We trade from a sustainability perspective to keep all our raw materials as close as possible to the distillery. And we grow on the edge of the water.
And if you look at this photograph here, you can really see how close. We are to the edge of the water. Okay, so which one should we taste first? Okay, so why not start with the double oak, which is our flagship brand. Okay.
Again, this is 43.6% ABV, just a we. That's good. Thank you.
Oh, that's beautiful. And you know what? I really like these glasses. I've been noticing this is like the Irish answer to the Glenn Karen. Yeah, that's gorgeous.
Developed and made by a really nice lady. Her name is Rosie. And especially for the Irish whiskey industry, it's really nice glasses. You can actually hold them as well. Everybody really loves them.
We were one of our first customers on this. It's got a beautiful nose.
Really smooth. Yeah, it's really smooth. Oh, that's delicious. It's got a nice light color. Delicious.
You can get the vanillas. Okay, what's the next one we're going to taste? So the next one, I think we'll go for a sister expression, which is the pork cask. So this is really interesting again, because it is the exact same liquid to start with as the double oak. The only difference being that it was finished in a port cask.
I can smell the port on the note. Yeah. And it's a little bit darker. A little red, a little darker. That's the color coming through from the port.
Typically we would age in port casks for nine months, maybe twelve months, depending. Oh, that's lovely. Yeah, sweeter. Oh, that's really lovely. And it's got some beautiful legs.
I don't know if you guys at home can see that, but the legs on this, it's really nice and creamy oily also. 43.6% ABV. Guys, you need to have some of this. Okay, so now we're going to try this one, the Private Barrel. Okay.
This is Private Barrel. Select. This is finished in red wine casks from the Bordeaux vineyard called Chateau La Carton. Sounds lovely. And these are really premium red wine Bordeaux casks.
So again, this is stronger. It's 58% ABV, limited to only 300 bottles. I forgot the poor one for myself. Don't forget I can't drink alone here. Oh, this has got a beautiful fruit note on the nose.
Oh, wow. That is really lovely. Again, for a 58% ABV whiskey. It's actually really smooth. It's smooth, but it does have a nice little bite at the end on the finish, but not something that's like it's a really nice little spicy bite at the end.
Spicy. You can certainly get the spice out of it. Oh, that's beautiful. This is one of the many Private Barrel selects that we can do on lots of different finishes. Oh, that's really good.
Now I don't know if I like this one better than this one or this one better than this one. I may have to try them. Yes. I'll just have to take them both. Okay, so the last one is the one in the Burgundy label.
The last one is a Burgundy label recently released in limited quantities in the US. This is our 15 year old. So it's a very special malt 15 year old. For a second I thought you said 50, and I said, wow, that's older than me. What's that space?
Yeah, it's our 15 year old finished in a Bourbon cask. Really smooth, really round. That's got a nice nose on it, too. We do that in a really nice packaging, actually. So that's very much for the gifting market.
Oh, is this the one that had the wooden top and the wooden bottom? Yeah. That's beautiful packaging. Okay. You could sip this on it.
This has kind of an earthy veggie finish, kind of woody. A lot of vanillas come in through. But yeah, in the beginning. In the beginning, yeah. It's very vanilla.
These are all lovely, michael. They're all lovely. Okay, so when we first walked in upstairs, you were telling us about the gin. So tell us a little bit more about the gin experiments that you can do and take home yourself. Yeah, so we've got a really popular gin school.
It's called the Minky Gin school. That's named after our minky gin, which is named after the minky whales, the swim wild on the coast. This is a humpback whale, by the way, on our bottle here. But minky whales is for the gin. Okay?
So they're the smaller versions.
What we do is we invite people in, roughly eight or 1012 people in the class at a time, and we teach them all about the different botanicals that are required to make a gin. The ones you must have and the ones you would like to have, and the flavors that they impart. And then people can experiment themselves and decide to add different botanicals into their little petri dish to decide what sort of flavors they want them to gender. And everybody is totally different, of course. And they take those to urgent school, they pop their botanicals into the mini still.
Those still cute. They're really cute. They're really cute. Together with about what is it? About one liter of Spirit, just under one liter of New Spirit, which is whey alcohol, which we use for the gin.
Our whey alcohol, by the way, comes from the cows on our dairy farm. It goes to the local cooperative where they make cheese. And the byproduct way is distilled. And we use that for all our gin and our vodka, which is pretty unique. Really smooth, cool mouthfeel, but I'm digressing.
So they get to make their own bottle of gin, put it in the bottle, put their name on it, and take it home and impress their friends that they have genuinely distilled their very own bottle of mix. And it's not even bathtub gin. It's genuine gin from a distillery. Exactly. That's great.
Exactly. And then you also showed me the mash ton, and we got to look inside, and we got to see the grain. And then you showed me the washbacks. Now tell me, how many washbacks do you have and how often are they all full and how many liters do. They yeah, so we've got eight washbacks.
They're 10,000 liters each. And we generally ferment for 100, maybe up to 120 hours for each fermentation. That's way longer than most distilleries. Most distilleries will run for 65, maybe 70 hours at the most. So the longer fermentation brings out a lot more complex flavors.
And that's one of the reasons why we believe that our whiskey is so much more special. And our new make, Spirit did win the world's best new make pot still at the World Whiskey Awards in 2020. So and then you showed us the three stills two of them have the necks going down and one slopes up. So tell us why you have that. Yeah, it's the linearm.
So that the line arms in our wash still and our intermediate still slope down and they really don't make much of a difference. But the line arm on our spirit still slopes upwards and that means as the alcohol vapors climb up through the neck of the still, that it doesn't tip over the top of the still onto the linear and have an easy and easy flow down into the condenser. It has to keep on working harder and harder to do this uphill battle for the last 2 meters. And that means that what it does, it separates out the finer particles and the alcohol has to move up and down a little bit more than normal. In layman's language, this gives you a far more elegant spirit and a smoother spirit.
And I think that's the one of the reasons why Clinicalty is that we're all so excited about our new make here in Clonakilty. That's wonderful. So this building, it's gorgeous. We've been up how many flights? Four, five.
Four flights. And from outside you can see through the windows, the beautiful copper pots and it's just gorgeous. So tell me, how did you decide to choose this spot? I hear this was supposed to be built as a bank and it didn't happen. So did you have to take things out of the front so that you could put the stills in?
Yeah, it was built as a bank, actually. This whole complex here was the site of the former Ga Football Club in Clinicalty. And when I started this journey thinking about the germs of an idea to start a whiskey distillery back in 2014 or thereabouts, the original plan was to put it on the family firm, but building permit issues and all of that were causing problems. And then I was just going past this building one day and just a light bulb went up in my head and I said, Whoa, that would be a great place to put a whiskey distillery. And actually, the glass frontage that was there was all built to house a bank.
It was built in 2007. Unfortunately, because of the recession, the building was never occupied and it laid more or less idle for over ten years. Until nobody rented it for any kind of business. There was a school in here for a very short period of time, but it was very much a temporary thing. So we purchased a building in sheller core condition.
We had to do a lot of structural work, we had to put mini piles into the base of the building to take the weight of the tanks. We had to take out the second floor almost in its entirety, which was 1215 inches thick of concrete. So there was a lot of challenges, but we got it to fit. And I think the final product is just beautiful. It's just wonderful.
When we drove in today, I've seen the outside because you guys sent me some footage, and for the last time, we had you on the show. And when we were driving up, the director was like, it says we're here. And I said, yeah, no, it's here. Look to your left. Look at the gorgeous copper pots just hanging out of this window.
Yeah, it's beautiful. And he was so that was fantastic. So what do you see happening in the next five years for you guys? Fortune kilty. I suppose the big event now will be the launch of our own single pot still Irish whiskey, which will happen sometime in 2024.
Our whiskey is three and a half years old now, and while we're really happy with it and it's really good and we're really thrilled with it, we want it to be really great before we release it. Right. I think a lot of young distilleries tend to release their first whiskeys a little bit too soon, and that's fully understandable because you want to get it out, you want to get it out there. But we feel that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. So we're going to wait until it's really great, which will be in 2024.
So that's something special for everybody to look forward to. And I know you now have last time we had you on the show, you had a different Distiller, and now you have a new Distiller. Tell us about him and when did he join the team? Yeah. Oshin Kahi Yoshin is with us since June of this year.
Okay. It's his first time being a head Distiller. He previously had worked with Dingle Distillery and a little bit of Kularney Distillery, new distillery in Kalarney, and he's got a lot of brewing experience as well. So Sean is a great guy. He's settled in really well, and we have been very impressed.
And I think the other thing, Atlanticilty, we love to give young people the chance to progress their careers and to move on through the thing. And where Paul, our previous Distiller, we wish him the very best of luck in his new position. Paul was great, and we're quite confident that ASean will really make his markings make some very special whiskeys going forward. That's wonderful. Well, up next, guys, we will talk to ASean and see how he's liking it here at the new distillery and maybe touch on Dingle, since we were just there yesterday, and find out how he went from going from Dingle as not a head Distiller to coming here as the head Distiller.
Super. Thank you, Michael. Thank you so much for having us. Not at all. Really appreciate it.
After we finished the distillery tour, the crew and I met up with O'Sean and followed him about 15 minutes down the road towards the coast, where he showed us the main warehouse and talked to us about his whiskey journey.
Well, hello. How are you? Kerry. Very nice to meet you. Nice to meet you too.
Thanks for coming in and inviting us to the warehouse today. Absolutely. Sorry about the weather. Could be better, but it's much better to be here in the rain than at home where there's none. We don't have any rain.
It's always hot and it's been a nice relief to come out here and get some rain and some wind. And I do love that you can still hear the wind. It's pretty like even we just came from town and it's amazing the difference in weather. Now, it wasn't exactly great in Clonakilty, but when you come out to iron field here, it's a different climate altogether. Sometimes you can be lucky.
You can get raining in town and sunny here, but definitely not today. It's only like a ten minute drive. It's such a huge difference. Yeah. Okay.
So, Oshin, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for having us. Thank you. This is OSean McConnell. Mo kehi.
Like Fatima Kehi from match. Fantastic. I didn't know that was a thing. I would ask if there's any relation, but obviously it's a fictitious name and I didn't realize that he was an Irishman. I mean, he was American, but I digress.
We just came from Dingle and spent a couple of days there at the Dingle Bash. And I hear that you are also from Dingle. Yeah, so I'm from the Dingle Peninsula and I started my career in Dingle Distillery, actually. So I can thank the boys in Dingle for giving me my start in the career. And it's been a great experience.
And Dingle is a great distillery of some good friends there. And I have a lot to thank Dingle for. I suppose there's some similarities between Clonicilty and Dingle. Like, I suppose growing up on the coast in the wild Atlantic kind of area, it's second home here in the sense that it's a very similar climate, similar culture. It's not that far.
Not far. Two and a half hours. Perfect. So do you get home a lot? Not as often as I should, probably, but whenever I can.
Like, we had the Dingle Food Festival a couple of weeks back home for all the festivals and stuff like that. My mother still lives there and my brother in law is the packaging team lead in Dingle Distillery. So I still have good connections there. Great. So how did you hear about the opening at this distillery and how did you go from just a regular distiller to the head distiller in Clonakiltilty?
Good question. I suppose my path I suppose my journey as a distiller started in Dingle is fairly unplanned. I kind of walked in the door first day as a temporary. I thought it would just be temporary. I was going into bottled gin.
Just I had a friend who kind of set me up with the job and it was really just going to be a stop gap until I moved on to something else. I was actually working an archaeologist by trade. I spent a few years in Canada where I got some experience working in kind of document control, engineering kind of side of things. When I came back, I'd worked in banking and other sort of stuff like that. And I was looking at a promising enough career in banking, and I just woke up one day and thought it was soul destroying.
So I decided to reset everything and go back to Dingle and maybe just regroup and thankfully walked in the door in Dingle. And as soon as I smelt the grain, as soon as I saw the stills, I was like, I knew this was going to be a long term thing. So I suppose that started. Luckily, I was able to move into production very quickly and get an actual taste for what production was like. And as soon as it was literally probably only within three months of being there in production, when I started, set my sights on, okay, how do I make this an actual career?
So that started with a year and a half or two years in Dingle. Then I had a kind of brief career break where I thought I wanted. To be a brewer. So I was kind of mixing with brewing and Distilling. I kind of decided pretty much after going the commercial brewing route because I did a lot of home brewing.
Big difference between a hobby and a career as far as brewing is concerned. But Distilling was definitely it mixed both hobby and career. So I decided to go back to Distilling. Unfortunately, COVID happened. So I ended up was lucky enough to go back to Dingle during COVID period to regroup.
Graham had just joined at that stage and he was very good to take me back in when no one else was really taking anyone on. So I was able to keep my Distilling career going, but all the while looking for better roles. Dingle was a fantastic opportunity to learn the production side of things. But as far as career progression, it's a small distillery or very little movement. And I knew straight away I wasn't going to wait ten years to get where I wanted to be.
I knew I wanted to be a. Head Distiller since Graham just got there. Exactly. Okay, Graham, you've been here for five minutes. Time for you to move.
Exactly. And I'm fairly low down the ladder at that time anyway, so I was like, I would have had to wait for maybe a terrible disaster or something to wipe out half the distillery. But I was like, okay, I'm going to have to move on somewhere else. So thankfully, while I was in Dingle, I was doing all the certification, all the qualifications you need to do to get that scientific background and stilling so building on my. Practical experience.
And a job came up close to Dingle in Kalarney, a new distillery opening up there, which is very promising. And I went there. It was kind of as a senior kind of distiller at the time. It's a very small group that hadn't even commissioned yet. So it was really valuable experience because it essentially gives you the absolute solid foundations of what a distillery, literally, how a distillery comes together, how to plan everything from the recipes to the Effluent discharge to essentially, it was like a crash course in distillery management, which prepared me perfectly for this role.
And when it came up, I was like, okay, well, I might be a couple of years short of the experience I needed, but in reality, you always have to go for things. And I was confident that the experience I did have, the rest I could fill in pretty quick. And I think when you have a goal, when you have your eyes set on something, it's amazing how quick you can get it when you plan for it, when you're prepared. So did you interview with Michael to get this job? Yeah.
So Michael and our previous head distiller here, Paul, they grilled me fairly, fairly well on the technical aspects. Well, Paul did, anyway, and Michael for sure. So, yeah, I'm glad I passed the test, so to speak. Great. And so when did you start working here?
I'm only in here since June. Wow, June 15. So fresh. Still very fresh. Yeah.
I'm just about getting my bearings now. So, as you can see, the warehouse here, when I first came, I didn't know where anything was, and I'm slowly figuring out and adding my improvement, so to speak. Not that the place needed much improvement, but finally getting my bearings. And it's a challenging job because it's the blending side of things, which is very creative with the distillery management side of things, which is very kind of scientific. And it's very that trip we made here from the distillery into art field here is I do that three or four times a day, just back and forth, keeping an eye on things in distillery and also getting liquid and stuff ready here.
And I suppose that's one of the main things about this job that really appealed to me is the mix of those skills, because you have so many distilleries, larger distilleries, where you have a distillery manager who focuses only on liquid production, so to speak, and then you have a blender, and it's a different thing. For me. I wanted to essentially be like graham. And that kind of massive distiller our future. To be able to do both and to have that background know?
Yesterday, when we were finishing up at the Dingle Bash, the final barbecue, he had brought out all these different expressions with different finishes and put a little paper with each thing saying what they were. And then he put some little pipette little droppers eyedropper things in each one and we were to go down and make our own blend and name it. And there was a contest, but we had to leave before they called the winner. So I need to call over there and see if I won. I named mine Carrie's.
Dingle malt whiskey. Well, it's the perfect name really, for the area. So I'll have to call and see what happened with that. So this is the warehouse. It finishes over there, finishes over there.
It's not that huge. And I see you're running out of space. So what's the next step for the warehouse? No, so we have about 900 casts, just over 900 casts in here at the moment. And I'd say realistically, we were at capacity a good year ago and really we've only been really filling casts since 2019.
So it's amazing how quick you do fill up. Now, this isn't the only warehouse we have. We have rented warehousing space which we send the bulk of our cast to. This is mainly for our finishing and our more kind of mature stock. And some of our cask keepers are investors casks as well.
But we do have plans to essentially take all our casts into one site. We're literally in the final stages of building a 10,000 cast warehouse just in a place called Derry Breen, which is about ten minutes from Clinicalty Town. So essentially probably the same distance on the north side of the town. So it's great to be able to pull everything under one roof, so to speak, have all the blending, all the finishing, all the maturation happening in the one area. Because up here really is like up until maybe a couple of months ago, we had bottling here, packaging here and we had everything else.
So it was really cramped and just giving us the space to kind of more efficiently manage everything. So where do you guys do the bottling and packaging? Now? We have another warehouse which we kind of rented temporarily, which it'll probably turn into a more permanent site, which is about 20 minutes away. So everything is very close and we kind of manage the so usually here I'll discourage the casks into either tanks there, which they'll be diluted or blended, or into IBCs, which are kind of plastic 1000 liter containers which we'll then transport up to either a bottling facility into another facility, wherever we want to go with it.
So there's a bit of coordination, a bit of management, whereas having all that in one site will be massive. Right. And it's a rarity for an Irish distillery to have, first of all, to do their own bottling, to do our own blending. Usually this all outsourced to other places, like Dingle is probably one of the few other distilleries who actually have all those facilities on site and have the maturing stock. And from a blending perspective, I mean, I wouldn't have been happy outsourcing that sort of creative aspect of the thing.
So it can be a headache having all the warehousing because it's very labor intensive. Like, if I want to sample a cask, I need to pull all the casks out. It's a headache. They look lovely, they smell lovely, but it can be a headache. Yeah, they're very heavy and and it's and tight for space and getting forklifts in in and out.
So there's a lot of headaches to it, but we wouldn't have it any other way. So let me ask you, the blending that's happening now on the current sourced whiskeys. I got to taste a bunch with Michael this morning. Nobody well, it was actually no, it was this afternoon, mom. It was this afternoon.
Don't worry. But there was a bunch of different finishes and they were fantastic. So are you now that you're here, are you doing the blending for those and putting them on the market? Yeah. So that's my kind of that keeps me busy most of the time.
It's amazing how quick that process, like our mature stuff, our source whiskey, as you said, is kind of flying off the shelves. So trying to keep up with that demand while we're doing our own stuff, that production, it's a very important part of any distillery's kind of financing of their own stuff. And it's a full time job in itself because essentially you only have maybe a year to two years to finish a product. So it's a little bit of thinking ahead, but it also means a lot more turnover. So luckily it gives us an opportunity to sample finishes that we wouldn't usually be willing to commit a whole batch to.
So we've tried Val policello wine from Italy. We've tried Virgin American Oak, which is the cask we're actually on. Here some Madeiras and Marsalas and things that are a little bit more interesting. Gives me a great playground to try new things for our own stuff and try to compare what would work best and things like that. Wonderful.
Well, I think it's time for you to take me on a tour of this beautiful and it smells delicious in here, guys. Like, really, really good. So I think it would be great if you could show me around and maybe show me which casks you have aging in here. And we'll do that perfect. No problem.
Okay. All right, so here we are in the warehouse, and we're looking at this first row here. I see different shades of wood. What kind of cask is this versus that whiter one up there? Yeah.
So they're actually both wine casks originally, but these are what's called strs. So they're essentially X wine casks that have essentially exhausted their use in wine. And what we've essentially done with them is well, not ourselves, but a cooperage that we get them from will essentially scoop out the innards. Essentially, whatever touched wine, they'll scoop out and they'll expose the virgin wood recharge or retost it to our specifications and essentially send it back to us. So what we get is a kind of sort of substitute for American bourbon virgin oak.
Yeah, and it gives you really subtle they're usually European oak, so European virgin oak would be incredibly expensive. Usually this gives you a very good kind of gives you great color, great wood character at a fraction of the cost. What kind of wine barrel is this? Or do you remember? They were Bordeaux, mostly.
Bordeaux. Bordeaux, okay. And what about the white ones up there? Yeah, so they were Bordeaux red wines. So they are actually, if I remember my markings, and I'm still getting used to what my markings are, but these are so usually these were Bordeaux red wines that we've literally just put new make into this week.
So again, trying to it's kind of unusual. A lot of distilleries will fill ex bourbon barrels from America, and that seems to be the most cost effective up until now. But ex bourbon barrels are actually incredibly difficult to get a hold of these days. So we're trying different it gives us an opportunity to actually try out different types of casks. We would use a lot of red wine casks, x red wine, Bordeaux casks.
Looks like you have some more red wines over here. Definitely some. And then what is this one here? So that's actually a NEOC. So it's a similar system to this, except it's done a slightly different way.
So instead of using a machine, it's a different way of pairing the inside of it and toasting them. So different cooperage, different cooperatives have different systems, but that's obviously done on an ex bourbon barrel. So you'll get American oak character versus the European oak character on the wine character. So it's all about mixing those different characters. We use a lot of European oak.
You get a lot of really interesting tannins and mouth feel. Kind of helps to thicken out or give more body to a whiskey. Whereas American oak tends to be you have a lot of the vanillas and the caramels and whatever, but you don't have that mouth feel, that body. Well, you do in bourbon, but by the time we get the casks right, that character is kind of exhausted. So what do you have over here?
Like this blue marking? What does that mean? So that's a New York again, that's a specific new era of oak. It's like an old wine cast that's been rejigged to essentially a virgin state or a near virgin state. Underneath here are actual virgin American oak barrels.
So we try to use as much of them as possible. I love them for color and for. And how many barrels in here would you say are filled with your new make versus our new barrels to you that you need to fill? So pretty much everything in here is full, with the exception of this row here, which are all need to be filled. They're all empties.
This row here is all new make. Some of that stuff is actually our tree rolls that is mature as of May. And really everything else is I try to organize the place by blend so that I'm not pulling things out in the middle. So, like, this is for our galley head blend. Sorry, our galley head single malt.
Another row there would be for our double oak and so on. So it just makes everything a little neater tidier. But most of the columns here are our new make casks, our own liquid. And the stuff on the sides on the other side would be sourced liquid, our finishing liquid. Great.
Well, I did have some of the new make that's now actually whiskey this morning. And it's fantastic. It's really good. I'm actually one of the things that interested me most about the job, and I suppose it's great to want to move up my career, but I still wouldn't have been happy to move to a distillery where I wasn't happy with what they were making. So actually, my first try, it before.
You took the job. If I don't like it, I'm not taking the job. Absolutely. And I think they had me try, too, because I think it's weird when you interview a blender for a job, you kind of have to prove that they can do what they say they can do and assess the quality of the liquid. And for me, I was blown away by how the fruitiness of it specifically like red berries and forest fruits, kind of, which it really bodes well for the future.
I just see so much potential in how that's going to interact with a cask. We did win. World's best new make. I think it was 2020, I think, or earlier. And that was just proved to the industry that what we're making is actually some of the best in the country.
Okay, well, thank you so much for your time today. It was a great problem having this great tour and love the whiskey. And we can't wait to see what you do with the distillery now that it's in your hands. Brilliant. Thank you very much.
It's time now for Whiskey Business, where I report on new releases and other current events in the world of whiskey. Well, hello. Michael Scully in the house. We just got back from Ireland where. We saw your dad and where we.
Shot O'Sean, and we interviewed both of them and we talked about all the wonderful things over at Clonakilty. And you are here in America, as I am. And I wanted to touch base with you about a few things since you are the co founder of Clonakilty, a distillery. So welcome, Sean. Hi, Carrie.
Thanks for having me on. So, first of all, as I've asked everybody else, I would like to get a quick version of your whiskey journey. So when you were born. Did you think that one day you'd be starting a distillery with your dad? Oh, God, no.
Not in a million years. Yeah, I suppose my whiskey journey came about probably more so because of my parents dream to start a whiskey distillery themselves. So they started working on starting Clonakilty Distillery back when I was in college. So I went to college and University College Cork down in Ireland, and I would come home on the weekends and that's when they were doing messing around with different ideas, designing the products themselves, the packaging. So I was very much kind of I wasn't obviously invested myself or working with the distillery at that point, but I was very emotionally invested with the distillery and would have been a part of the decision making processes and all that kind of stuff in regards to packaging and so on.
I finished up my degree and I had spent a year studying in Oregon previously, and I actually wanted to move back to Oregon for a year. And I worked for a local distillery here in Oregon as well at that time. Which one? It's called trail distilling. It's a small distillery just outside Oregon.
Family owned distillery. So I'm all about those small independent family companies. So I spent a year working for Trail Distilling, which is great, and then that was around the same time where ourselves at Clan of Guilty back in Ireland, that we really got up and running. So then I moved back to Ireland, I started working with the family business officially, and I took over the job of expanding into the Dublin and Leinster markets. So I did that for about a year and now I'm back in Oregon again, been here for about three years, and I am spreading the Goodwill Atlantic Guilty all up and down the west coast of America and further east sometimes also.
Wow, great. So in the news recently, I just saw that there was some sort of partnership brewing between you and Marusha. So would you tell us a little bit about this new partnership that you guys have going with Marusha? Yeah, so Marusha are new importers to the US market. We've been working them within France for about a year or so right now, and that's been going great.
So, yeah, we signed on with Marusha to import our spirits into the US. And we're pretty excited to see what comes of that. That's really going to open a lot of doors to us within the US markets. We're going to be able to go deeper into all the existing states we're in. We're in about 15 states right now, but it'll also open up opportunities to enter into other states and to leverage Marusha's portfolio as well with distributors.
So it's an exciting partnership. We're ecstatic about it. I know they're all on board and really excited about having us within their portfolio as well. So it's going to really kind of kick us on to the next level in the US. I feel like.
Great. And when do they start distributing for you? Or have they already. It'S taking a while to figure out, to be honest. But we're pretty much like over the last two weeks now has been the big turning point, so we're transferring stock over to them, all that kind of stuff, and getting things really up and running.
So it's all happening as we speak. Okay, great. And do you know which other states they're going to try to attack first? Yeah, well, so we're going to expand into Texas, into Colorado, Illinois, so some big states there. We'll also be going a lot deeper into the California market, which I'm sure a lot of your listeners should be excited about.
Hopefully if they have tried clonicilty by some. Yeah, that'd be brilliant. So there's some big markets and Mauritius contacts and experience is going to be invaluable for that expansion. Great. Do you know what stores that they're already working with or is that not really out to public yet?
I can't say. I can comment on that. But we're hoping that it'll open up doors to the bigger retailers as well. As we very strong distribution in the States, we're in the independent retailers. They really enjoy our story on being an independent distillery ourselves, but just kind of taking that next step forward, getting into the big retailers will be brilliant for us, and Marisha should be able to really help with that.
Fantastic. So what are your goals for the company for, let's say, the next five years? For the next five years? Well, it's all leading up to next St. Patrick's Day, really, when we're hoping to release a single pastel Irish whiskey.
Where the whiskey? Where we grow on Malted barely, and it's growing oceanside and matured at our Atlantic Ocean warehouse. So this is what we've been leading up to since day one. So that's going to be exciting. And I feel like the next five years or so will be about really amping up our existing portfolio, but also really pushing out our story in regards to the barley fields, the warehouse true means of selling that, pushing that single pastel whiskey.
Who knows where the next five years is going to take us? We've only been in the US market for like four to four and a half years ish, and that's not a long time. And we've come a very long way for a smaller distillery, small to medium distillery. So you kind of do have to look back at where we started and where we are right now and we're absolutely delighted that, but we do see ourselves really pushing forward again and again with Marusha on board now, that's going to really expand our potential reach within the US. And we should start spreading our wings a bit more, I think, in the next five years.
Fantastic. And when you said St. Patrick's Day, are you talking about this coming one, like, next week, or are you talking no. 2024. So don't hold me to that.
Now. That's just the goal we have. But that's obviously a great time to launch a whiskey. And I'm sure you tried the whiskey when you were back in Ireland, did you? I tried many.
Yes, I did try the pot still. Yeah. Okay, brilliant. Yeah, we're ecstatic. How far it's come along?
It's less than four years old right now, pushing four years old. Originally we were going to wait six or seven years to release it, but it's a beautiful already, and it's really good shape, so we've kind of pushed that timeline forward. We can't wait to get people trying it. So that's why we're thinking St. Patrick's Day 2024 is a good goal, at least for launch.
Yeah. One more small note as well. If people can't access Clonicilty within their state, we have an online shop. It's based out of California, and it ships to, I think, 47 states. So you guys can find that shop at Clonakiltydistillery.
Okay, so fantastic. Sean, thanks again for being on the show, and we will circle back with you and the family in the future and see how things are going. Thanks again. Thanks, Kay.
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Thanks for joining me. Until next time, Slàinte Mhath!
Barrel Room Chronicles is a production of 1st Reel Entertainment and is distributed by Anchor FM, and it's available on Spotify, Apple, Google, iHeartRadio, Amazon or wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. Sam.
Sean is a co-founder and member of the founding family of Clonakilty Distillery. He holds an Honours degree in Commerce from University College Cork and has also spent time studying in the United States at Oregon State University.
Sean currently resides in Portland, Oregon. Here he oversees brand growth and western USA operations.
Oisin is the Head Distiller and Blender at Clonakilty Distillery, where he oversees the distillation, maturation, and blending processes. A native of the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Oisín began his distilling career at Dingle Distillery in 2018. He has since achieved a number of qualifications in Distilling and is currently completing his diploma at the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. As a blender, he is particularly interested in the science of maturation and how flavours change and transform over time.
Michael is co-founder and a Director of Clonakilty Distillery. Michael has extensive experience in the areas of property investment and development, both in Ireland and abroad. He identified the distillery site and coordinated the design, development and delivery of all sections of the project. He is responsible for the day to day running of all aspects of the business at Clonakilty. Michael is a former recipient of the ‘Irish Dairy Farmer of the Year’ accolade.
The Scully family has farmed at Dunowen Farm for the past 9 generations and over 320 years. Dunowen Farm is integral to the brand story being where Clonakilty grows its barley for distilling, harvests marine botanicals and matures its whiskies. It also has an efficient 350 cow dairy herd.
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