Deirdre O’Carroll Named As Latest Blender At Ireland’s Midleton Distillery

By Hannah Kanik / March 20, 2021

Irish Distillers recently announced Deirdre O’Carroll has been named Blender at Midleton Distillery, Co. Cork.

As Blender, O’Carroll will work with Master Blender Billy Leighton in Midleton Distillery and will be responsible for the development of new blends as well as current ones. She will marry together specific flavors and aromas to ultimately create the Irish Distillers’ portfolio of Irish whiskeys. 

Deirdre O’Carroll as Blender at Midleton Distillery, Co. Cork.

Deirdre O’Carroll is the new Blender at Midleton Distillery, Co. Cork. (image via Irish Distillers)

She’s now responsible for the management of stock, including cask profile and age profile, as well as laying down stock for future generations. 

“Deirdre was one of the first graduates to join as part of the Graduate Distiller Programme. The program is designed to give graduates ownership of their career aspirations, supported by practical experience and training to help them succeed and Deirdre is a shining example of what success looks like,” Billy Leighton, Master Blender, said in a prepared statement. “In a few short years, Deirdre has risen through the ranks, proving how competent and capable she is in the roles that she has held, most recently managing a team of 13 people. She is an invaluable member of the team in Midleton and I am delighted to announce her appointment as blender.”  

O’Carroll has a degree in Food Science and Technology from the University College Cork and a diploma in Distilling from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. 

She joined the Irish Distillers in 2012 in the first cohort of the two-year-long Jameson Engineering Programme. In that program, she learned a solid foundation of whiskey-making knowledge and was appointed a Process Technologist at the end of the course. 

O’Carroll was a part of the team that commissioned the new pot stills in the Garden Stillhouse and the new columns in the Midleton Distillery expansion project. She also served as a Bond Supervisor.

There are more than 1.7 million casks maturing in Midleton, and while O’Carroll was Bond Supervisor, she helped oversee the filling and emptying of those casks. She operated a wide team of 61 people over a split shift to get the work done.

“In simple terms, four simple ingredients can make an array of whiskeys; water, yeast, cereal and wooden casks. However, it is the sensory aspect, balancing the flavours, is what defines the taste,” O’Carroll said. “I look forward to channelling my knowledge and experience into my new role, while learning from Billy and the team.”