We Can't Be a Whiskey Bonder Without A Master Cooper
In the 1890's J.J. Corry had access to casks from all over the Commonwealth. We know from the archives that he sold Bordeaux Wine from St Julien, Rum from the Caribbean, Port from Portugal, Sherry from Spain. He had a wide palate of casks to choose from when maturing his whiskey. No doubt back then he would have used local wood too as there was a fully functioning Cooperage in Kilrush Town. Coopers were common all over Ireland, with the trade traditionally passed down through family lines. Each Cooper served a six year apprenticeship before they were bestowed with the title of Master Cooper.
We believe fervently that we can't make whiskey without a great distiller AND a learned Cooper. It takes only a day or two to distil whiskey, but many, many years to mature it. 80% of whiskies flavour comes from the cask its aged in and the place where that cask is stored. We have to ensure we choose the right casks to put our whiskey spirit in and also ensure that they are properly cared for over time. To do that we need a Master Cooper.
Sadly here in Ireland the Art of the Cooper has all but died. There are only four Master Coopers working on the Island of Ireland. We want to ensure we nurture this craft back into existence, its kind of an obsession of ours. We convinced Eugene Quinlan, Master Cooper to be the Guardian of our Casks and also to advise on our forward Wood Program for whiskies we intend to release in in 5,10 and 20 years time. Eugene has 40 years of experience in the Cooperage trade and a tradition in his family that goes back six generations. He works with some of his Grandfathers tools.
Eugene works with us as a "Journeyman Cooper" which means he travels from his home across the Shannon River to us here in County Clare to work our casks. We are building a small Cooperage for him in a 16th century barn we have on site.
To the best of our knowledge there has not been a 'Journeyman Cooper' in Ireland in living memory. We support the craft of the cooper because its integral to the resurgence of Irish Whiskey and to the quality of what the whiskies we will release in the future. We hope that the next generation of the Quinlan family will have the chance to carry it on the great work that Eugene does for us and we'll do our bit to support that.