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Distilling Begins in Carlow for Alltech's Irish Whiskey

Alltech’s craft distillery has finally been installed at its location in Carlow Brewing Co., Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow. The Vendome pot stills, flown all the way from Lexington, Kentucky, are now ready to be commissioned, meaning that they are ready to receive the first batch of what in three years will become Alltech’s first Irish whiskey, distilled in Ireland.

(From left to right) Mark Coffman from Alltech in the United States, Seamus O'Hara from Carlow Brewing Company and Jack O'Shea from Alltech Ireland, stand at the spirit still.

The distillery is fully manual so the commissioning process will take time and a master distiller’s eye and refined taste buds to tweak the spirit levels and temperatures to create the perfect whiskey. To begin, the malted barley milled and sent to a lauder tun to extract the converted starches, the resulting liquid is called the wort. The yeast is then introduced into the wort as it is being pumped into a fermentor where it will stay for the next 65 hours becoming mash and finally a beer bi​ght.

This is then added to a wash still, beginning the first phase of the distilling process and the spirit that is collected is known as a low wine. The low wine then goes into the spirit still where it is further condensed and purified. This results in three cuts: the head cut, the heart cut and the tail cut. The heart cut, a colourless liquid with a high alcohol content, is extracted and will go on to age, becoming the first batch of whiskey.

“Our whiskey is 100% malt, made with only two other ingredients, water and distiller’s yeast. As yeast technology forms a large part of our core business, we have developed our own distiller’s yeast to use in the whiskey making process,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech. “Once the distillation process has finished, the whiskey will then be aged for three years in barrels from The Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, home to Alltech’s other spirit, the award winning Town Branch Bourbon. This way we will keep the Kentucky-Ireland connection alive.”