Irish whiskey bonder launches first whiskey into UK

Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey JJ Corry Photograph by John Kelly.

A new whiskey, JJ Corry, has been launched into the UK by Ireland’s only whiskey bonder, The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Co.

JJ Corry The Gael is made 5% with 26-year-old single malt, 27.5% with 11-year-old single malt, 27.5% with 15-year-old single malt and the remaining 40% with seven-year-old single grain whiskey.

The whiskey is available in 50cl and 75cl bottles with ABV of 46%. With 7,000 bottles produced in the first batch, it is non-chill filtered and has no artificial colour added.

It is named after a bicycle that whiskey bonder JJ Corry invented in the 1890s. JJ Corry was born in the parish of Cooraclare, where the business is based, and he bonded and blended whiskey in his shop and pub at 63 Henry Street, Kilrush from the 1890s until his death in 1932.

The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Co was founded by Louise McGuane in 2015 and has resurrected the lost art of Irish whiskey bonding under the JJ Corry brand name.

The company is maturing whiskey in a purpose-built bonded rackhouse on the McGuane family farm in Cooraclare, County Clare.

Irish whiskey bonding is the practice of sourcing whiskey from third-party distilleries, maturing it on site until it is ready and then finishing or blending liquids to create a unique stand-alone whiskey.

Bonding was a once-common way of producing whiskey in Ireland and bonders were often publicans and grocers in local towns creating whiskey for their local clientele.

The practice died out in the early 20th century when the Irish whiskey industry collapsed. Instead of selling to bonders, the few remaining distilleries in Ireland chose to control their route to market and cut off supply to the local bonders.

Louise said: “Bonding Irish whiskey was a lost art and business model which we have brought back to life. We are the first whiskey bonder in Ireland in 50 years and are proud to have brought this way of making Irish whiskey back.”

The company is also the only all-female Irish whiskey company. “The Irish whiskey industry historically has been male dominated,” McGuane said. “The gender of people who now drink whiskey has broadened, but the gender of those that produce it has not kept pace with this change.

“Gender in the industry should not matter, but I have found that to some extent it still does. In reality the only significant thing about us being an all-female whiskey company is there is no ambiguity as to what we are capable of achieving together.

“Women helping women is a powerful thing and in spite of all the progress made in the past few decades we still need to ensure our mutual success.”

As the company waits for its own Irish whiskey casks to come of age, it has sourced mature Irish whiskey from existing stocks in Ireland. With these casks, it is creating a series of unique and complex blends to build a future house style and flavour profile.

JJ Corry The Gael has the fruit-forward flavours that fans look for in Irish whiskey. It is described as having a classic Irish whiskey profile with full white stone fruit flavours, notes of lime with a hint of pink peppercorns and a dried grapefruit and apple finish.

Louise added: “Our farm has its own coastal micro climate, we rack our casks in the traditional style and our purpose-built rackhouse has a clay floor for optimum humidity conditions.

“We are meticulous about the quality of new-make whiskey spirit we buy and I personally source all of our casks. We have excellent quality spirit going into Grade A casks and those casks are maturing in a unique microclimate on the Wild Atlantic Way. We feel it is important to be 100% transparent about what we are doing.

“JJ Corry The Gael is the beginning for us, a tribute to what has gone before us and a taste of what is to come.”

Picture by John Kelly.

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