The distillation of Irish Whiskey has a long history. Some sources place it as far back as the early 6th century when Irish monks brought the distillation process back from the Middle East. This history has resulted in hundreds of years of experience and perfection to bring us to the stage we are at today. In Gaelic the drink became known as "Uisce Beatha" which means "water of life." The Normans called it "fuisce" and eventually it evolved into "whiskey." Barley and fresh spring water are the key ingredients needed and are found in abundance throughout Ireland.
In the Northwest of Ireland lies an ancient Gaelic kingdom called Tyrconnell when translated from Gaelic means "The Land of O'Donnell". The O'Donnell's were one of the most powerful Gaelic noble families right up to colonisation and reined the ancient kingdom, which is now County Donegal, until 1701. The territory is famous for its distilling tradition. One of the oldest distilleries in the region established in 1762 and reputed to be the first distillery in the world to install a patent still was Andrew A. Watt Distillery. The Watt's flagship brand was the world famous "The Tyrconnell" Pure Pot Still Single Malt Irish Whiskey.
The Watts distillery dates back to 1762 and had a proud tradition of producing good whiskies. Tyrconnell was their flagship brand which was a best seller in the United States before Prohibition and is named after a very successful racehorse owned by the Watt family. This historic whiskey brand has been kept alive by Cooley Distillery the only independent distillery in Ireland who has maintained Tyrconnell reputation. The Tyrconnell has been embraced by whiskey lovers around the world (including the US again) and is the fastest growing Irish Single Malt.
In 1876 the Watt family entered a horse, a Chestnut Colt, appropriately named "The Tyrconnell" in the Irish Classic horse race "The National Produce Stakes". Incredibly it won at 100 to 1. This spectacular achievement inspired the Watt Distillery to celebrate the occasion with a special commemorative Tyrconnell label, which remains to this day.
Andrew A. Watt's distillery dates back to the glory whiskey days in Co. Derry in the North of Ireland. Derry’s suitability for whiskey production on a major scale due to copious supplies of good clean water, excellent supplies of local barely and the Derry mills to grind malt left it put her in an advantageous position. Originally from Ramelton in Co. Donegal the Watt family first settled in Derry in 1762.
The Watt influence in Derry became substantial in 1839 when wine and spirit merchant Andrew A Watt bought the Waterside Distillery located in the Abbey Street area. One of the most significant decisions taken was to install the Coffey still, which was personally installed under Aeneas Coffey’s supervision. It proved to be a shrewd move as before long Abbey Street was the largest distillery on the island, capable of producing 2,000,000 gallons of whiskey a year. The firm focus on three main brands with Tyrconnell being their flagship brand.
The Tyrconnell was, before prohibition, on of the biggest selling whiskey brands in the US. Pre-prohibition photos of Yankee stadium in New York show Tyrconnell billboards in positions of prominence at the venue. Tyrconnell and Andrew A Watts enjoyed great success in the export sector. Sales in England, Canada, Australia, Nigeria, The West Indies and the US put Derry on the commercial map of the world. By the turn of the century Watt amalgamated his interest with two other Belfast distilleries to form United Distillers Company. Things worked perfectly leveraging on their economies of scale until conflict arose between UDC and Scottish giants DCL based in Edinburgh. This was the beginning of the end for the huge Derry operation and Andrew Watt was forced to close the doors in 1925. The brands remained dormant till 1988 when Cooley Distillery acquired this old brand and went on its way to bringing this historical Irish whiskey brand back to life
A Single Malt Whiskey is the product of one specific distillery and has not been mixed with whisky from any other distilleries. Tyrconnell is distilled by the award winning Cooley distillery who have been the driving force behind the Irish Single Malt evolution. Most Irish malt whiskey has been traditionally found its way into blended whiskeys thus it is rare to find Irish malt whiskey bottled in its pure form. Irish Single Malts are more complex and character then their blended Irish cousins due to their rich malty flavours and have smoothness and an absence of smoky characteristics associated with Scotch Single Malts. Irish single malts have emerged as a fast growing premium segment of the whiskey market.
Tyrconnell is distilled in the old Irish tradition. This pure pot still single malt whiskey uses only the most natural Irish ingredients of barley and fresh spring water. The resulting whiskey is then left to peacefully mature in oak casks stored in 200 year old granite warehouses allowing it to develop its full flavour and character.
The Tyrconnell's principal ingredients are the finest Irish barley and pure spring water. Barley is first steeped in water to germinate. Starches in the sprouting grains are gradually converted into natural sugars. After 7 - 14 days green malt goes to kiln for drying. The heat halts the growth, and the barley is then ready for mashing. The absence of smoke in the malting process ensures that the clean taste of the malt and barley shine through in the final whiskey.
After the malting process the barley is milled and added with hot Irish water to a mash tun where the starches in the mash are converted to sugars and the resultant liquid is called 'wort'. Yeast is added to the wort and fermentation begins. The living yeast feeds on sugars, producing ethanol and other alcohols. Large volumes of carbon dioxide gas are also produced and the wash froths violently.
The wash is now passed through a traditional copper pot still in order to produce the final end product - malt whiskey. In distillation, the still is heated to just below the boiling point of water and the alcohol and other compounds with a lower boiling point vaporise first and pass over the neck into either a condenser or a worm - a large copper coil immersed in cold running water. The shape and size of the pot stills affect the character of the individual whiskey. Smaller stills with larger necks produce more refined whiskies as in the case of Tyrconnell.
Tyrconnell is gently matured from many years in seasoned oak barrels in 200 year old granite warehouses. It is during maturation that the whiskey becomes smoother, more flavoursome, and draws its golden colour from the cask.
Colour: Golden Yellow
Nose: Full and fruity aroma with a citrus – spiciness taste
Taste: Well structured with honey notes hanging from the nose. A tang of oranges and lemons, a strong malt presence that balances well with the oily sweetness
Finish: A long finish with the malt becoming more dominant to the end without the soft fruits and honey, which helped make up the middle.
Alcohol content: 40%
Serving Suggestions: The Tyrconnell can be served neat in a tumbler, or with a little water to taste.