Despite having a history only reaching back 20 years, Cooley Distillery has forged a name with whiskey fans for its high quality product and its efforts in reestablishing whiskey varieties that have been dormant for many years.
Cooley Distillery was founded in 1987 by John Teeling with the purchase of a former state owned vodka plant in the Cooley peninsula. Located on Ireland's east coast, it took the Irish entrepreneur less than 2 years to convert the facility into not one, but two distilleries, a pot still and a patent still. Teeling had studied the decline of Irish Whiskey as a student at Harvard in he 1970s, and had seen an opportunity to reverse this trend, while also making money.
John Teeling was not the only person to see the potential of Irish Whiskey on the marketplace, and in 1988 his fledgling business was joined by Willie McCarter who had acquired the assets to the A.A. Watt Distillery - giving Cooley Distillery access to decades of whiskey production knowledge.
Once the infrastructure was in place, Cooley Distillery acquired the rights to the brands of both the Andrew A. Watt Distillery and the John Locke and Co. Distillery, instantly giving the company history reaching back over 200 years and brand presence where previously there had been none.
The company was able to fill its first cask in 1989, and once released was an immediate success on the marketplace. This success was recognised with the distillery being awarded many prizes by the international spirits community, the highest accolade being a trophy in 1998 by the International Wine and Spirits Competition for outstanding achievement to the spirits industry.
A critical factor that separates Cooley Distillery products from other Irish Whiskeys is the distillery's unique production method. Not only is the product only distilled twice, where it is typical in Irish Whiskey to be distilled three times, is that the pot stills used encourage the distillate to take longer to pass through - producing a more refined product, according to the distillery.
Today despite offers to purchase the distillery (the most notable being a £24 million pound offer by Pernod Ricard) Cooley Distillery remains Ireland's only independent distillery, with the company having over 300 loyal stockholders - many being there from the beginning.
Originally a Andrew A. Watt Distillery product, Tryconnell was the distillery's flagship product and was named after a race horse that the founder owned. Before prohibition the brand had been very successful in the United States, however it struggled to regain market share after prohibition was appealed and this failure played a major role in the distillery's closure in the 1960s. Since being reintroduced by Cooley Distillery, the brand has been awarded a gold medal at the 2004 International Wine & Spirits Competition and has become the fastest growing single malt Irish Whiskey in the world.
- Tryconnell Special Malt Limited Edition
An original Cooley Distillery product, Greenore is an example of the exceedingly rare single grain whiskey category. Seeing as though most single grain whiskey is consumer by the blended whiskey market, a release of a single grain product is a rare occurrence. While being in limited supply, Greenore has created a niche for itself, gaining a loyal following. There will be 8000 bottles released of the 8 year old variety, with availability decreasing for later releases.
- Greenore 8 Year Old
- Greenore 10 Year Old - Planned
- Greenore 16 Year Old - Planned
- Greenore 18 Year Old - Planned
Produced originally by John Locke & Co Distillery, Kilbeggan has been a successful product in its homeland and abroad since its introduction over 100 years ago until John Locke's closure in the 1950s. The brand was reintroduce by Cooley Distillery in 1994, where it has been an immediate success for the company and one of its leading products.
Another John Locke & Co Distillery product, Locke's was successfully exported to the United States, Europe and Australia until the 1950s where the distillery was closed due to a dramatic change in growth opportunities. Locke's became Cooley Distillery's first product, being released in 1992 in a limited release of 5000 bottles. Regular production began in 1998 and it has become an important part of the company's financial success. Locke's 8 Year Old became the distillery's first aged product, and was recognized in 2001 by receiving a Gold Medal in the 2001 International Wine and Spirits Competition.
- Locke's 8 Year Old
- Locke's Premium Blend
- Locke's Malt Limited Edition
- Locke's Rare Malt
- Millar's Special Reserve
Established in 1843 by Adam Millar & Company in Dublin, Millar's Special Reserve quickly spread throughout Ireland due to its appeal as a traditional Dublin sipping whiskey. Unfortunately, the brand fell into disuse during the 1960s. In 1994 Cooley Distillery recreated the brand for the marketplace where it has be an amazing success. Its quality has been recognized by winning a bronze medal at the International Spirits Challenge in 1996 and the International Wine and Spirits Competition in the same year.
An original brand of Cooley Distillery, Connemara is steeped in Irish history and tradition. Peated whiskey emerged in Ireland after heavy taxes where introduced to whiskey in 1661. As an act of defiance to the unreasonable taxation on the industry, many distillers went underground - producing bootleg whiskey. Part of this process was the recognition of peat as a viable fuel source required to dry the malt before distillation could take place. A consequence of this was the distinctive peat taste that would be imparted on the whiskey, a very appealing taste indeed. Unfortunately, with the advent of canal transport of coal, the use of peat fell into disuse in Irish Whiskey production. Cooley Distillery decided to reestablish peated Irish Whiskey in the 1990s, and this decision has been wildly successful for the company.
- Connemara Cask Strength
- Connemara 12 Year Old
Inishowen's claim to fame is that it is the only peated blended Irish Whiskey in the world. Originally an A.A. Watt Distillery brand, Inishowen was reintroduced by Cooley Distillery in 1996.
A completely new product developed by Cooley Distillery employees, then released to the marketplace. With its ingredients a company secret, not much is known about the liqueur other than its Irish Whiskey base and its warm, sun soaked taste. It was awarded for excellence in the 1999 International Wine and Spirits Competition.