Killarney Distillery and Brewery

We had the opportunity to visit the brand new Killarney distillery and brewing facility located right outside of the town of Killarney in County Kerry.

And what a facility it is! The new 62,000 square foot building is located on the N22 – right on the Ring of Kerry. It’s a spectacular building that immediately catches the eye. Designed by Italian architect, Davide Mosca, it features the distilleries three massive copper pot stills behind a wall of glass facing the roadway and lit by LED lights that change colour. The distillation area is multi-storied and hugged in the curve of breathtaking giant laminate curved wood beams. The brewery is in the opposite wing, with 2 story rounded windows that also face the N22, reminiscent of a Napa valley winery. Everything is state of the art with three pot stills from Frilla, six giant fermentation tanks, three column stills and a Meura high tech mash filter that spans a large portion of the enormous room.

Head distiller, Kerr Petri – lately from Midleton – is in charge of this spanking new distillery. We have every reason to believe he will make the most of this opportunity. There were a few faces from Midleton including our tour guide, Michael and, like us all, has nothing but positive things to say. We here at Hip Cask have said before that there is plenty of room in the Irish whiskey world for more Irish distillers.

We were excited by the head gin distiller, Maeve Kelleher. At 25, she is both passionate and enthusiastic about gin. Killarney will sport a Gin Lab, a unique place where one can bring in ingredients to macerate with Killarney gin to create your own private gin concoction. Be it sloe plums off your hedge, your grandmothers gooseberries, or whatever mixture you may fancy, you can create your perfect personal gin at the Gin Lab.

Parent company KBD owns both Killarney Brewing Company Ltd and Killarney Distilling Company. It was founded in 2013 by Killarney men Tim O’Donoghue, Paul Sheahan, and their Chicago-based business partner, Liam Healy, who has family connections in Kilbrean, Killarney.

The three main owners have strong ties to Chicago and have incorporated small details like recycled Chicago brick combined with local Valentia slate, recycled wood from a Kentucky distillery and an antique bar from an old Chicago pub. Mixed use rooms include the Hemingway room, a speakeasy style room, the Oyster room (modelled after a room at Grand Central Station complete with arched ceilings) and multiple larger rooms for corporate events, meetings large and small, family function venues and educational rooms.

The centre hosts a large restaurant and bar with picture windows overlooking Lough Leane and the Gap of Dunloe. KBD is delighted to add Executive Head Chef Paul Barrett to the group, formerly a Chef de Partie at the Shelbourne.

I think my favourite room is slated to be a Chocolatier Creche. Two chocolatiers are to be added to whip up concoctions using local ingredients as well as the whiskey, gins and beer created on premise. Someplace for the kids and non-drinkers to pass the time while other family members sample the liquid attractions.

The rooftop bar/restaurant has a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.

The entire building has been designed and built with the intention of being wheelchair and disabled accessible with ramps and elevators.

The only thing we missed was a chance to actually taste any whiskey, but we know that will be happening soon. Currently KBD has a Killarney Whiskey 1092 on offer, mixed to their specifications. However once the stills go into production this summer, all further bottlings will be under the eye of Master Distiller Petri. Part of KBD, the Cornerstone Cask Society, are offering the chance to purchase a full cask of new Killarney whiskey, stored at their facility for 5 years in American oak ex-bourbon casks. One point we really liked was the fact that Killarney will be storing their whiskey on site in their temperature controlled bonded warehouses and the price includes the storage and insurance fees. Those fees are usually added to the cost of the cask in other distilleries, so it’s a pretty sweet deal.

The opening date looks to be sometime in early summer. We will certainly make it a point to visit again and perhaps have a wee dram or G&T sitting on the rooftop garden overlooking the stunning views.


Published by whiskycailleach

I have been enjoying wine and spirits for more years than I care to admit. My parents were of the old school that teething pain should be cured with liberal applications of spirits. In the basement of our old house in Santa Barbara California was a hidden room locked by an old bank vault door put in by my grandparents sometime in the 1920s. When my folks engaged a locksmith to open it in the late 1970’s the hidden room contained my grandad's old spirit collection. Some corks were mouldy and past their prime, while others were some of the best whiskies, brandies and liqueurs we had ever tasted. It has been a pleasant quest to explore as many different whiskies as possible from Scotland, to Ireland, from small distilleries in the US to Japan's Suntory. Along the way I have had the good fortune to meet amazing folks in the whiskey world from Keith Barnes at Bainbridge Organic Distillers to Lora Hemy at Roe & Co. My personal goal is to visit as many distilleries and taste as many whiskies as humanly possible. I feel lucky to now be living in Ireland, enjoying the whiskey renaissance currently taking place. I look forward to sharing my tasting notes, articles and musings as well as reading about others experiences in the wonderful world of whiskey. Slainte!

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