WHISKEY TALK: THE CHAPEL GATE IRISH WHISKEY COMPANY AND J.J. CORRY
If you happen to follow me on Instagram, you saw that I very happily shared my review for Chapel Gate's JJ. Corry - The Gael today. I am a big fan of this whiskey, and not only because it taste so damn good. Louise McGuane, founder of The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Co, was kind enough to invite me out a few weeks ago to break down the history of this whiskey, and share with me her future plan for the brand. Irish Whiskey is rent with deep history and she has gone back to dig up these amazing stories and allow them to live on through her whiskey.
The Lovely Louise McGuane:
After working in the spirits industry for 20 years for the likes of Diageo, Moet, and Pernod Ricard, Louise McGuane decided to go back to her roots, and her home in Ireland. Even though Ireland had always been home, she never worked a day there, as she spent her working years abroad in the US, France and Singapore, just to name a few. After she married her husband in 2012, she wanted to embark on her own journey and while researching starting her own distillery, came across a label from whiskey bonder J.J. Corry. She later learned that he was a whiskey bonder who lived only 3 miles from her family farm! This sparked the flame that led her to becoming the first whiskey bonder in Ireland in well over 50 years! She is a firm believer in transparency, with the bottles of her whiskey spilling the beans on exactly whats inside. She is not only resurrecting an old practice and modernizing it, but too preserving the history known as whiskey bonding! As of now she has sourced mature stock to get The Gael to market, but too has laid down new make in her bonded rackhouse.
Whiskey Bonding 101:
In 19th century Ireland, distillers didn't bottle and sell their own liquid. They sold their liquid to what were called "Whiskey Bonders". These bonders were shop and mercantile owners, and even pub owners, who would take their own casks to their local distillery to have them filled with new make spirit, and then take them back to their shops to mature, and to later be sold under their own name. In the bigger cities, you had much larger bonding operations with much higher volume. At one point in time, this was the only way to buy whiskey in Ireland! Keep in mind that there were whiskey bonders all over Ireland, from coast to coast, in different towns with different climates. This meant that with their casks, which were different from the next shop owners, and their different climates in which the full casks were stored, that the whiskies had a large range of flavor variety. This gave Ireland a very tasty and colorful map of different whiskies for consumers to purchase. This practice stayed alive and well until about the 1920's , when Prohibition, war, and other factors began to take their toll on the Irish whiskey industry.
But luckily this way of whiskey making isn't forever lost! Louise has done her research and has began unearthing the long lost art of bonding. She has no plans to distill in the near future, which means she will source her casks and her spirit, and combine the two and place them in her Bonded Rackhouse on her family farm to allow the magic to happen. The McGuane Family Farm, which sits a quarter mile from the Atlantic Ocean in County Clare, known as the Wild Atlantic Way, can see up to all four seasons in one day! I'm told that Irish weather can be a wee bit unpredictable, and she is looking forward to seeing what the microclimate on the Wild Atlantic Way has in store for her whiskey!
Who was J.J. Corry?
J.J. Corry was a jack of all trades, and whiskey bonder from Kilrush, where he had a shop and sold his "Corry's Special Malt". With his shop being close to a sea port, he was able to sell all types of goods from around the globe, including wine, rum, port, and even bicycles! He too was an inventor and in the 1890's invented a bicycle called "The Gael". After J.J. passed away in 1932, his daughter took over the shop until she passed away in the 1980's. When the shop was sold off, there were many papers documenting many parts of his life, along with labels for his bottles that Louise now holds very dear to her. The label on the bottle of The Gael is a very close replica of J.J.'s original label!
As I mentioned earlier, the current bottling of The Gael is a blend of sourced mature stock. The blend consist of 5% 26 year old single malt, 55% of vatted 10-15 year single malt, and 40% 7 year old single grain. There is new make aging peacefully on the farm, and now we just have to be patient and wait for the briny air to rock those casks ever so sweetly in the cozy dunnage style rackhouse. I am such a big fan of this whiskey. The nose is full of melon drops and apricots and pastries! The palate is such a burst of melon creme delight. Waves of cantaloupe and spice and apricot danishes. Its almost like liquid pastries and melon creamsicle. It has a lovely bite to it that keeps you on your toes but its smoothness just eases you right into your happy place. Its really beautiful.
I am really looking forward to Louise making her magic happen as she blends and matures new make on her farm. She has such an appreciation for this industry and takes such great pride in not only sourcing and blending, but in her relationships as well. She has a lovely US Ambassador, Blaise Kelly, who is such a great addition to her team. I urge you all to get out there and pick up one of these bottles. They are in stores in NY, CT, and TN currently and can be purchased online at The Celtic Whiskey Store and The Whisky Exchange!
Follow Louise and Chapel Gate on Instagram here: @whiskeygate
THE CHAPEL GATE IRISH WHISKEY CO. LTD
Kilrush. Co. Clare
The Small Print:
Huge thanks to Louise McGuane for gifting me this amazing whiskey and allowing me to review it honestly. All reviews, thoughts and photos are my own, unless stated otherwise.