In the 1880s, there were hundreds of distilleries in Ireland, but they did not bottle their own spirit. Local grocers, who were legally bonded whiskey wholesalers, would arrive at the gates, fill their own casks with spirit, age it, blend it and sell it. J.J. Corry of the port town of Kilrush, County Clare, was a particularly enterprising bonder who experimented with finishes in the barrels he could acquire at the harbour - Bordeaux casks, port pipes and many more.
In the 20th century, Irish whiskey declined, until by 1975, when there were only two distilleries left on the island, and no whiskey bonders at all.
Reviving the lost art of whiskey bonding
Louise McGuane is the first licensed bonder in Ireland in living memory. She ages new-make spirit in the rackhouse on the family farm in Clare, located just six miles from the wild Atlantic ocean. Unusually for Irish whiskey, the casks live the old-fashioned way, as they are supposed to, on their sides, raised off a dunnage floor and breathing an air rich from the sea, lush green grazing grass and the surrounding peat bogs. The barrels are selected and cared for by one of Ireland's last master coopers. And the whiskey is named after McGuane's predecessor as a whiskey bonder in the area, J.J. Corry.
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