Connacht Whiskey Distillery located in Ballina, Co. Mayo, celebrated the release of Batch 1 of its first Single Malt whiskey in 2021, the first whiskey to be distilled in the county in over 150 years.
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The double-distilled Single Malt Irish Whiskey was completed on its premises in Ballina, once a popular bakery.
The craft distillery uses bespoke copper pot stills during the distilling process.
The new whiskey contains aromas of raisin, with hints of almond and star anise, as well as vanilla, spices, dried fruit, and malt, capped off with a warming, full-bodied finish.
It is one of over 30 whiskey distilleries that operate in Ireland, from large, well-known brands like Bushmills, Jameson’s, Kilbeggan, and Tullamore D.E.W. to smaller craft producers like the Ballina plant.
The Single Malt Irish Whiskey, bottled at 47% ABV, retails in Ireland for €64.99. You can purchase the whiskey from the distillery's online shop.
Visit the Connacht Whiskey Distillery
The Connacht Whiskey Distillery, which recently received the Failte Ireland Covid-19 Safety Charter Accreditation, was established in 2012 by Irish American David Stapleton.
He, along with other members of his Irish-based family and two friends, one an award-winning master distiller, the other with years of experience in the U.S. spirits industry, have helped to grow the business over the years.
The 2,500-meter facility houses three copper pot stills that are used to make its signature brand, Connaught Irish Whiskey.
The double distilled single malt whiskey is reflective of the local landscape as local grains are used in its making as well as water from two County Mayo lakes, Lough Conn and Lough Cullin.
After the whiskey leaves the facility’s copper still pots, it is aged in American oak barrels that once held American bourbon, a nod to the Irish American heritage of its founders.
The facility is within close distance of the River Moy, a popular river for anglers, and also only a few miles from the beach town of Enniscrone on the Atlantic Ocean.
The Connacht Whiskey Distillery also produces the following brands:
- Brothership 10-Year-Old Whiskey, a unique blend of Irish single malt whiskey and light American whiskey, which represents the intertwined Irish and American cultures of the brand;
- Concullin Irish Gin, hand-crafted small batch Irish gin inspired by the water and Irish botanicals sourced from Lough Conn and Lough Cullin;
- Spade and Bushel 12-Year-Old Irish Whiskey, a limited-edition whiskey that is finished in premium select first-fill bourbon casks;
- Spade and Bushel 5-Year-Old Amarone – finished in Amarone wine casks, with partially-dried Corvina, Molinara, and Rondinella grapes;
- Straw Boys Poitin, a single malt Irish whiskey that takes its name from the illegal Irish moonshine made in the Irish countryside for centuries;
- Straw Boys Vodka, a premium Irish vodka that has been distilled five times in copper pot stills, giving the product its luscious, silky, and semi-sweet taste.
All of the whiskey listed above can be purchased online at the Irishmalts website or at the distillery’s online shop, as mentioned above.
The distillery is located in the Belleek section of Ballina, about a 2.5-hour drive from Dublin.
If you are interested in a tasting of the Connacht Whiskey Distillery brand, you must pre-book in advance.
Guided tours of the Connacht Whiskey Distillery are available at noon, 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.
Some of the other attractions to explore in the Ballina area include the following:
Belleek Castle is now a popular hotel and wedding destination, but besides that, there's a lot of history associated with this grand structure.
Built between 1825 and 1831, Belleek Castle was commissioned by Sir Arthur Francis Knox-Gore and designed by John Benjamin Keanes in the Neo-Gothic style.
Knox-Gore lived in the house until his death in 1873. A large Neo-Gothic monument located in the nearby Belleek Woods marks the spot of his internment.
His wife and favorite horse are also said to be buried there, as is Knox-Gore's son, Charles, along with his beloved dog Phizzie.
In 1942, it was sold to the Becketts, a local family. They subsequently sold it to Mayo County Council, which turned it into a hospital and military barracks.
It wasn't until Navy Merchant Officer Marshall Doran purchased it that Belleek Castle was returned to its former glory.
Doran was an avid collector of medieval treasures. You can see many of them in the basement of the castle when you take a guided tour.
They include a large collection of medieval armor and weaponry, some rare fossils, even the bed of the Irish Pirate Queen Granuaile, otherwise known as Grace O'Malley!
The Jackie Clarke Collection
What might seem like an unassuming place at first glance is actually a fascinating look into the history of Ireland.
The Jackie Clarke Collection is housed in the former 3-story Provincial Bank building on Pearse Street in the center of town.
It was designed by the Victorian architect Thomas Manly Deane, who also designed the National Museum in Dublin and that city’s government buildings.
The rare and precious items that you’ll discover here are the result of years of collecting by the late Jackie Clarke, a local businessman.
His love of historical items began when he was a schoolboy in the 1940s.
What started out as memories and collections in a scrapbook soon turned into a true passion as Clarke gathered the letters of Irish political figures, rare books, posters, and an impressive collection of maps, some as old as 400 years.
Some of the items that are housed here include letters from Michael Collins, Douglas Hyde (Ireland's first president), Michael Davitt, and O’Donovan Rossa, as well as plenty of personal items related to the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916.
The attraction is open from Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.
The Monasteries of the Moy: Rosserk Friary and Moyne Abbey
It is here that you will discover the ancient ruins of Rosserk Friary and Moyne Abbey, both National Monuments and once belonging to the Franciscan Order.
Both were destroyed in the 1500s after King Henry VIII ordered that all monasteries in Ireland close.
Rosserk Friary, which was built in 1460 by the Joyce family, is a peaceful place along the banks of the Moy.
Look out for the finely carved west doorway, the single-aisle church, and its unique double piscina (a stone basin near the altar used for washing vessels during mass).
Moyne Abbey, also along the Moy estuary, was founded by the McWilliam Bourke family and consecrated in 1462.
Its extensive ruins include a church and domestic buildings situated around a central cloister.
Both friaries were built in the late Irish Gothic style.
If you want to truly explore this area around Ballina, hop on your bike or take a walk on the Monasteries of the Moy Greenway, a 14-km (8-mile) off-road walking and cycling route between Killala and Ballina.
You can rent bikes from Killala Bike Hire.