Kilbeggan

Kilbeggan was founded in 1757 and is the oldest licensed Whiskey distillery in Ireland. Production ceased in the 1950s. In 1988, Cooley bought the distillery and resumed distilling in 2007, just in time for its 250th anniversary.

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Information about the Distillery
21 Bottles
Ireland
-7.503086 53.369679
Active
Beam Suntory
1757
Matthias McManus
175,000 l
http://www.kilbegganwhiskey.com/
Average tasting notes Tasting Notes
Calculated from 180 Tasting Notes
i
Nosing
Peat Smoke:
Sweet:
Fruit:
Herbs:
Heather:
Vanilla:
Malt:
Oak:
Spices:
Honey:
Zitrus:
Bonfire Smoke:
Pear:
Apple:
Nuts:
Alcohol:
Lemon:
Caramel:
Sherry:
Ham:
Dried Fruit:
Grass:
Green Apple:
Floral:
Wheat:
Peach:
Mint:
Pineapple:
Orange:
Melon:
Nutmeg:
Herb:
Plum:
Dark Chocolate:
Barley:
Hay:
Leather:
Medicinal Smoke:
Seaweed:
Cherry:
Cinnamon:
Tropical Fruit:
Cake:
Maritime Notes:
Lemon Peel:
Chocolate:
Tasting
Peat Smoke:
Sweet:
Fruit:
Spices:
Malt:
Nuts:
Honey:
Oak:
Oil:
Vanilla:
Heather:
Herbs:
Pepper:
Bonfire Smoke:
Sherry:
Caramel:
Zitrus:
Apple:
Dried Fruit:
Pear:
Herb:
Maritime Notes:
Tropical Fruit:
Lemon:
Orange:
Leather:
Seaweed:
Alcohol:
Salt:
Plum:
Walnut:
Green Apple:
Chili:
Grass:
Coffee:
Banana:
Raisin:
Tobacco:
Medicinal Smoke:
Iodine:
Floral:
Hazelnut:
Wheat:
Ham:
Cherry:
Peach:
Almonds:
Cake:
Finish
Peat Smoke:
Malt:
Sweet:
Nuts:
Spices:
Fruit:
Oil:
Oak:
Wheat:
Bonfire Smoke:
Honey:
Herb:
Vanilla:
Herbs:
Heather:
Alcohol:
Barley:
Maritime Notes:
Sherry:
Grass:
Salt:
Apple:
Ham:
Seaweed:
Zitrus:
Dried Fruit:
Chocolate:
Coffee:
Plum:
Dark Chocolate:
Pepper:
Tobacco:
Medicinal Smoke:
Green Apple:
Floral:
Ginger:
Pear:
Red Currant:
Details about the Distillery

The Whiskey

Kilbeggan's standard bottling is a blend that is not triple distilled as is usual in Ireland, but only double distilled. It is mild with sweet, malty and slightly fruity notes. The Small Batch Rye is also double distilled and has a rye content of 30%. The Rye was the first Whiskey to be released since the reopening in 2010 and was distilled and matured entirely at the new Kilbeggan distillery. The base for the Kilbeggan Single Grain is a mash of 94% corn and 6% malted barley. It is first matured in bourbon barrels before it receives its finish in different strong wine barrels. The Single Grain is soft with typical notes from the bourbon barrels, such as coconut or vanilla, but also fruity and slightly spicy on the finish.

The Production

Kilbeggan's production volume is around 175,000 litres of Whiskey, i.e. 250,000 bottles put on the market each year. The majority is still produced at Cooley, only some Kilbeggan bottlings are produced at the revived Kilbeggan distillery. The water used for production comes from the Brosna River, which flows past the distillery.

In 2010, the equipment for mashing and fermenting was also added: an oak mash tun and six traditional wooden washbacks.

Electricity for the distillery is provided by a water wheel, which also runs most of the time. If there is not enough water to drive it, a steam engine has been added.

The Pot Stills

Kilbeggan has the world's oldest copper still, which was made back in the 1800s. It was in use until 2019 and the renowned Scottish still manufacturer Forsyths eventually made a replica of the old riveted still, which is currently in use. Distilling operations resumed in 2007 after closure. Irish Whiskey is usually triple distilled, but Kilbeggan prefers double distillation. The stills, whose shape was common in moonshine stills, are round and have very narrow swan necks that are neither constricted nor have reflux balls. The wash still has a capacity of 3,000 litres and the spirit still, renewed in 2019, has a capacity of 2,000 litres. Kilbeggan did have a licence, so distilled Parliament Whiskey. However, 'normal', unlicensed Whiskey was also produced on such stills.

Kilbeggan still room
Kilbeggan still room

The Warehouse

Kilbeggan has a 'racked warehouse', which also matures the part of the Whiskey that is distilled at the Cooley distillery. All the casks used are rather small and previously contained other spirits or wines, mostly Bourbon or Sherry. The Single Grain, for example, matures for at least four years in ex-bourbon casks and then in various strong wine casks.

The warehouse was built in the 1940s and has a special design. Modelled on the palace of Ctesiphon in Baghdad, it presents a perfect arch through which the weight can be best distributed. It was cast entirely in concrete and coated with tar on the outside to seal it.

Kilbeggan inside warehouse
Kilbeggan inside warehouse

The History

Matthias McManus founded the Kilbeggan Distillery in 1757. At that time, the stills had a capacity of about 1,000 litres and the distillery produced about 6,800 litres of Whiskey annually. During the temperance movement in Ireland in the 1930s, times were hard for Irish distilleries. A large part of the Irish population swore off alcohol, the distillers lost many customers and thus made great forfeits.

In 1843 the Locke family took over the distillery, which is where the name 'Locke's Distillery' comes from, still visible on the distillery's chimney.

In 1878, a fire destroyed part of the distillery. Residents of Kilbeggan stormed the warehouse and rolled the maturing barrels into the street. In this way they prevented greater damage to the buildings and the Whiskey stock. In 1917, Whiskey production was temporarily stopped all over Ireland. The reason for this was the food shortage throughout Britain. Prohibition in the USA in 1919 also removed another important market for Irish distilleries.

Due to the many unfortunate circumstances in the market, Kilbeggan was forced to stop production in 1924. The existing stocks had to be sold and most of the employees laid off. Fortunately, production could be resumed in 1931 after the end of the Prohibition movement in the USA. As early as 1953, however, the distillery had to shut down again, this time due to tax increases and seemingly forever.

In 1963, the German investor Karl Heinz Mellor bought Kilbeggan and made a small fortune by selling the remaining stock. In 1982, the 'Kilbeggan Preservation and Development Association' was formed by Kilbeggan residents. They raised money to preserve and develop the distillery.

In 1987, the Cooley distillery was founded by John Teeling. He bought Kilbeggan in 1988 to store the Whiskeys produced in Cooley.

Finally, in 2007, and just in time for the distillery's 250th anniversary, operations at Kilbeggan were resumed - still in the antique copper stills. In 2010, the equipment for mashing and fermenting was added back. Since then, the entire production process for selected Kilbeggan Whiskeys, including cask storage, can take place under one roof.

Kilbeggan waterwheel
Kilbeggan waterwheel

The Visitor Centre

Basically, Kilbeggan Distillery is one big visitor centre. Even though some new equipment has been installed since 2007, most of the old machinery has been preserved. From the old millstones to the old waterwheel and the steam engine used in the past, you can experience how Whiskey was produced decades ago. Kilbeggan therefore also serves as a museum.

In addition, there is a modern restaurant, a souvenir shop and a bar where you can taste the distillery's range. Tours can be booked online or by phone.

Visitor information

Kilbeggan Distilling Co.
Lower Main St.
Aghamore
Kilbeggan
County Westmeath
Tel: +353 (0)57-9332134

Chronological rating history

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