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Glendalough Distillery was set up in 2011 by a group of friends intent on emphasising the old craft nature of Irish distilling. The venture was able to draw on the expertise of its founders Barry Gallagher and Brian Fagan, drinks analysts working in finance, and Gary McLoughlin and Kevin Keenan, who had experience in drinks advertising.
While drawing their inspiration from heritage, they weren't shy about innovation. With the help of another craft distillery, they first released a poitín distilled from sugar beet and barley and matured in Irish oak casks in 2012. Poitín was the origin of the species, the original “water of life”. It’s Ireland’s gift to the world, one of the first spirits ever to be distilled, but the people at Glendalough have added their own twist. They now even have a version matured in sherry casks.
In 2013 they set up a distillery in beautiful Wicklow for themselves after purchasing a Holstein still from Germany. While they wait for their own stocks to mature, they have sourced whiskey from the Cooley Distillery in Louth, but again they've managed to make it their own through the maturation and blending. They currently have two single malts in their range, a seven-year-old and a 13-year-old, as well as an impressive single grain. Each bottle features the image of St Kevin, a sixth century hermit monk who founded a monastery in the valley of the two lakes.
A good sign that they're going places is the involvement of Irish rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll. Always one to spot a gap, he invested €60,000 in the company in 2014. Indeed, the 13-year-old is a nod to the former Leinster and Ireland centre's jersey number for Ireland and Leinster.