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Slane Whiskey Draws on Ancient Irish Heritage, Modern Technique

Right now, Irish whiskey is the fastest growing category of whiskey on the world stage. So it is easy to see why American spirits company Brown-Forman made a play into this segment back in the fall of 2015 by partnering with the Conynghams of Slane, an Irish aristocratic family with deep historical roots to lands located about half an hour north of Dublin, Ireland, to launch a new Irish whiskey distillery.

Slane Whiskey

Historic Slane Castle, north of Dublin, Ireland (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

Some years ago, The Conyynghams ventured into whiskey via sourced product from Cooley Distillery to diversify the income streams supporting the estate they call home. When sourcing spirit became hard, they set out to build their own distillery on the grounds of Slane Castle, with Brown-Forman eventually joining with them to design a whiskey making facility that brings modern whiskey making techniques into a historic Irish setting.

Slane Whiskey

What will serve as the entrance to Slane Distillery (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

As I recently learned about during a Brown-Forman sponsored media trip to Ireland and Slane Distillery, plans call for making use of three copper pot stills and six column stills to produce a range of whiskeys in what was formerly the castle’s 18th century horse stables and courtyards. Much effort is being made to restore and convert this part of the estate into a production area and visitor center, including “timber restoration and replacement of the 18th century beams, doors and windows, new and restored Welsh slate roofing and restoration of the stables’ original chiming clock tower to working order.” Work to this effect also includes masonry repair and traditional lime rendering.

Slane Whiskey

Some of the recently installed stills at the Slane Distillery (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

When I was onsite at the distillery, I got the chance to see firsthand the care to attention and detail being put into this $50 million project. This will all ultimately translate into different expressions of the Slane Whiskey brand which is distilled and aged on the grounds of the estate. Since it will be a few years off, however, before the first whiskeys made onsite are ready for sale, the first bottling from Slane, set for release later this year, is a sourced blend from an unnamed Irish whiskey maker. The blending is being done by Slane itself, making use of Irish single malt and grain whiskeys that were aged in virgin light char, heavy toast barrels; ex-American oak bourbon barrels; and ex-sherry casks for what’s described as a unique triple casking process.

Slane Whiskey

Alex Conyngham of Slane Whiskey alongside of some of the new distillery equipment (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

As part of my visit to Slane I conducted a podcast interview with Alex Conyngham who, along with his father Henry, is working with Brown-Forman on this project. For more details on specifics of the whiskey and what is going on there I suggest you give it a listen. In the meantime, enjoy a few select photos from different portions of the trip in this photo essay.

Slane whiskey

The River Boyne, which runs through the heart of the Slane estate (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

Slane whiskey

Checking out the elements which make up the new Slane Whiskey (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

Slane whiskey

Slane Whiskey, ready to enjoy (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

Editor’s Note: This article came about as the result of a media trip put together and paid for by Brown-Forman. While appreciative of this, The Whiskey Wash retained full editorial control of related content.

About the author

Nino Marchetti

As the founder of The Whiskey Wash, I'm crazy about whiskey, I can tell you, and I aim to share this passion with you through this site. As for my professional background, I’m a writer and journalist by trade and an Internet dot-com veteran prior to that. My most recent venture prior to this was as the founder and editor-in-chief of EarthTechling, a leading consumer focused green technology news website. I also have an extensive collection of whiskies from both start up distilleries and centuries old operations in Scotland alike, sprinkled with some other odds and ends from around the world, that have provided me with a unique picture of what’s going on with this wonderful spirit.