sponsored by Tullamore D.E.W.
Last year Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey made history by moving its distilling operations back home to Tullamore, Ireland, after being gone for 60 years. The new, state-of-the-art distillery is significant not only for the town of Tullamore, but also for Irish whiskey in general, which is seeing a boom in popularity around the world. Playboy talked to Tullamore D.E.W. Distillery Ambassador Jane Mahar about the distillery’s impact one year after making the move, the legacy of Irish whiskey and what being a whiskey ambassador actually entails.
Why did William Grant & Sons build the new Tullamore D.E.W. distillery in Tullamore?
Since acquiring the brand in 2010, William Grant & Sons has been committed to securing a prosperous future for Tullamore D.E.W. by investing in the brand’s home, the town of Tullamore. The brand was founded there and it holds a strong history of distilling dating back to the 18th Century. We are very proud of our new, state-of-the-art distilling facility; in addition, our visitor centre inspires and educates our guests on the history and heritage of the liquid. In a word, Tullamore rocks!
What does the new distillery mean for the town of Tullamore?
The former Tullamore Distillery closed in 1954 due to a slow-down in global Irish whiskey sales and a poor Irish economy. Sixty years later, on September 17, 2014, distilling returned, which has been hugely exciting for the entire community. This is particularly relevant to all those who worked at the old distillery or whose ancestors worked there. It’s been quite emotional.
What has your reception been like this year?
There is massive appreciation for what this means to the town of Tullamore; there is a sentimental attachment to the brand. Additionally it is recognized that Tullamore D.E.W. is the second-largest selling Irish whiskey globally, so there is great pride behind the brand. We are a very proud nation!
What is the scale of production now compared to before the new distillery was built?
The new facility allows us to produce enough to meet our current demand; however, there is room for expansion should it be necessary. It is a good position to find ourselves in and we see a bright future for Tullamore, for our liquid and for our brand.
What makes Irish whiskey different from whiskeys produced elsewhere in the world?
Irish whiskey is unique in that we use a triple distillation method, which is a different method than the ones used in Scotland or the U.S., for example. This results in a lighter, fresher and smoother finish on the palette. Irish whiskey is unofficially the friendliest whiskey in the world!
What makes Tullamore D.E.W.’s blend unique?
The Tullamore D.E.W. blend is unique because it is the only Irish whiskey to be made of a triple blend and matured in used bourbon and sherry casks. We incorporate all three styles of whiskey made in Ireland: grain whiskey, malt whiskey and pot-still whiskey. We feel this gives us the perfect blend of sweetness, fruitiness and spiciness, a bit like my good self…I’m friendly but I’ve got an edge.
Why is Tullamore D.E.W. triple distilled?
Historically, triple distillation has been the method of choice for lots of Irish whiskies. Triple distillation is not necessarily a question of being better; rather, it makes us different from our counterparts around the world. At Tullamore D.E.W. we believe it gives our liquid its unique character and we remain true to the traditional Irish methods of distillation. It’s important to acknowledge that in Ireland we’re not trying to be better, just different.
Will Tullamore D.E.W. taste differently now that it is being produced at a new distillery?
We work diligently to ensure that every bottle of Tullamore D.E.W. produced is consistent and true to our brand’s character. Each year every distillery faces challenges to adapt to change. For example there could be natural changes in the grain, variations in the wood used for maturation or the need to modernize and thus adapt to new systems and technologies. Being a new distillery means we are no more or less challenged year-by-year than any other distillery in the world.
Has the recipe changed at all since the move?
The recipe hasn’t changed and this is of utmost importance to us. Remaining true to our liquid’s character is what we live for. However, what is exciting is that our new facility will give us the flexibility to be even more innovative and to add even more interesting liquids to our existing portfolio.
When will the public be able to drink the first bottles from the new distillery?
It is the law that Irish whiskey must be matured for a minimum of three years, so the earliest possible release will be late 2017. At present, we are keeping our plans under wraps; you’ll need to watch our website and social media accounts for special liquids coming your way. But no stalking!
Why do you think Tullamore D.E.W. has become so popular in the past few years?
Tullamore D.E.W. has a long history of success around the world, most notably in Europe. However, it has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, particularly in the U.S. There are most likely several factors at play, but ultimately whisk(e)y is just really interesting in terms of history, process and taste. The U.S. has an unequivocal lineage to Ireland, and Irish whiskey is no longer a drink you associate with your grandfather. Bottom-line, having an appreciation for good quality is attractive. (Or perhaps we’re realizing that grandad really is cool and knows what he’s talking about!)
When blending Tullamore D.E.W., what are you aiming for in flavor?
Again, we are aiming to achieve the perfect blend in every bottle of Tullamore D.E.W. We seek sweetness from our grain whiskey, fruit notes from our malt and spicy/oily notes from our pot-still. This blend will hit the palette in three spots: the front, middle and back, thus creating a well balanced liquid. It’s a tough job, but I’m happy to do it!
How do you approach honoring the legacy of Daniel E. Williams?
His initials, D.E.W., are used as a mark of respect on every bottle. Daniel E. Williams was more than a distiller; he was a true character. He elated the town of Tullamore by bringing it the first ever motorized car, the first telephone line and the first ever electricity supply. We like to sum up his legacy in one simple phrase which D.E.W. himself coined just a century ago: “Give every man his D.E.W.”
What is your typical day like at the distillery?
A typical day it not very typical. I resist using the cliché that no two days are the same, but it’s a good descriptor. Depending on what stage of production we are at, I will be spending time in the lab with our technicians on analysis, nosing and tasting. This is most exciting as we get a sense of where our liquid is at. As Distillery Ambassador, I will also welcome our VIP guests from around the world. These will include media, bar/hotel owners, distributors and trade partners. It is very important to us that we educate our guests on exactly how the liquid is made. We tour the facility and then conduct deconstruction tastings which help guests to truly understand the liquid.
How do you take your Tullamore D.E.W.? Neat or on the rocks?
This will always be dependent on the occasion, but mostly I will drink it neat. More recently I have been residing in L.A., so in the intense heat I have savored a few on the rocks! However, despite what people might think I am open to mixing it up and am always intrigued by how others like to enjoy it. Do let us know!