Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Here Comes "The Quiet Man"

"The Quiet Man" Blended Irish Whiskey
In recent times it has been no secret that Irish whiskey is back with a bang.  Sales are on the up, big style, and with this we are seeing a flurry of new and planned distilleries all over the island of Ireland.

My interest is obviously heightened when one of these distilleries is planned for my home province of Ulster, in the North of Ireland, and this brings me on to Niche Drinks who are located in Derry City, Co. Londonderry.

Niche Drinks was set up back in 1983 and since then they have been producing cream liqueurs, Irish coffee, and "ready to drink" cocktails for their retail partners in Ireland, the UK, the USA and Europe.

As a direct result of this well established business they have also managed to build up long standing relationships with some of the most successful Bourbon producers.

Fast forward to 2015 and now Niche Drinks are planning to build the first whiskey distillery in Derry for 200 years.  This £15 million project is set to begin later this year and is to be located in the Campsie area, on the outskirts of the city.

Once up and running the plan is to produce a triple distilled malt whiskey that will be "as traditional and as authentic as possible".

In addition to the distillery, which will be named "The Quiet Man Craft Distillery Co. ltd", Niche Drinks have, for some years now, been buying and maturing grain and malt Irish whiskey, both new make and already partially matured.

This whiskey has been bought to allow them to release their own range of Irish whiskey named "The Quiet Man" or "An Fear Ciúin".

Through the aforementioned relationships, with the Bourbon producers, they have already secured ongoing supplies of barrels and it is into these barrels they are filling their bought new make and partially matured whiskey.

The plus point here is that the bourbon barrels they are using are all first fill and therefore will impart some serious flavour into the spirit they have.

They also have some sherry casks in which they are already maturing some 4, 5 and 8 year old malt whiskey.

To bring this altogether, in perfect harmony, Niche Drinks have acquired the services of experienced Scotch whisky blender Billy Mitchell and are currently putting 4 employees through the "Diploma in Distilling" course run by Heriot Watt University.

"The Quiet Man" 8yo Single Malt Irish Whiskey
The Quiet Man whiskey range will be released with two expressions - a NAS blend and an 8 year old single malt with both expressions being chill filtered, although managing director, Ciaran Mulgrew, does state that future single cask bottlings will probably be released at cask strength and obviously without chill filtration.

They are also working out a detailed recipe so that they can make a seamless transition when it comes to Niche Drinks starting to use their own whiskey once fully matured in years to come.

When it comes to the naming of the brand Ciaran Mulgrew has an excellent story behind this, in case you thought whiskey names were plucked out of thin air -

"My father was a bartender who worked for over 50 years in bars around Belfast.  Sometimes he would bring me into work with him and so I grew up loving the sounds and smells of the bar, the craic, the laughter, and the smell of the beer and the whiskey.  Especially the whiskey.

Now that I am making my own whiskey, I am naming it after my father.

In 50 years as a bartender he saw a lot of things and heard a lot of stories but, like all good bartenders, he was true to his code and told no tales.

My father, John Mulgrew. 'The Quiet Man' or, as they say in Irish, 'An Fear Ciúin'."

From being in contact with Ciaran, hearing what he has to say, and seeing what they have planned, I have to say I'm very excited about this project.  They are moving into this venture with an already good knowledge of the drinks industry and by combining this with expert whisky knowledge, from Billy Mitchell, and focussing on delivering a top notch product, they should be hitting the heights in no time.
I like that they are using only 1st fill bourbon barrels, to mature the spirit they have already bought, and if the new releases of "The Quiet Man" are to move seamlessly into the era of their own whiskey then they could have some serious standards to maintain.
Being a malt whiskey distillery I am looking forward to seeing how their own spirit matches up against the other north coast powerhouse - Bushmills and in simpler terms I am just overjoyed that the northwest of Ireland is starting to put itself on the map in terms of Irish whiskey.
This is further backed up by the plans in Donegal for Sliabh Liag Distillery (pronounced Slieve League) but that is for another update.
Well there you have it, keep your eyes peeled because "The Quiet Man" is coming to a bar near you.
Until next time,



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