Oliver Hughes is a name closely associated with quality and innovation in the Irish drinks world - and specifically with Ireland's largest independent brewery, Porterhouse Brewing Company, which was a leader in the craft brewing revolution that is currently taking this country by storm.
But, always with an unerring eye for the next big thing, he and a group of like-minded entrepreneurs have recently turned their attention to the craft of distilling - which, it may surprise many consumers to know, has been badly neglected in Ireland in recent times, with only three distilleries in operation (Midleton, Bushmills and Cooley), all of which are owned by international drinks giants.
But not any more, as a fourth distillery is now operating in Dingle - where “the moist microclimate, warmed by the Gulf Stream is ideal for the careful maturation of whiskey”. And, since Ireland's other whiskeys are matured in colder, dryer parts of the country, Dingle's whiskey is expected to develop “a unique style with a distinct sense of place”.
The giant copper stills arrived in Dingle in the summer of 2012 (there’s a great clip on their website) and, having successfully negotiated the bridge across to Milltown on the western edge of the town, the coppers were settled into position at the old sawmill that is now their home.
Under the guidance of Porterhouse Head Brewer, Peter Mosley, and a vastly experienced master distiller, John McDougall, production started that autumn; although beginning initially with gin and vodka, whiskey production soon followed - and has started the process of being laid down to mature.
This is a craft distillery, with no plans to produce large volumes of spirits - and, as is usual with any venture Oliver Hughes is associated with, there is an unusual twist: “individuals with character” are invited to invest in the first 500 casks, and they will be known as the Founding Fathers….Tempted?