Mountcharles plans own distillery after Slane castle whiskey supply cut off

All it took was one good family night and three thirsty nobles to choose the blend for Slane Castle Whiskey.

But the decision by the owners of nearby Cooley Distillery not to supply whiskey to independent operators means the castle’s casks will soon be empty.

That infuriates Lord Henry Mountcharles, who plans to turn the castle — home to concerts since 1981 — into a distillery. Lamenting the decision by the American multinational Beam to halt supplies, he said Slane Castle Whiskey had gained acceptance abroad, particularly in the US. Slane Castle Irish Whiskey has been targeting the premium US market, with Irish prices of €50 a bottle.

“Since it launched at the Oasis show in 2009, it has been selling extremely well, over 7,000 cases. It also won a gold medal at the Irish Whiskey Masters and gained 94 out of 100 points in the Ultimate Spirits Awards in New York. We were just abut to sign a distribution deal to take the product to Asia when we learned our supplies would be cut off. I told Beam I regard their actions as anti-competitive.”

Speaking on RTÉ radio yesterday, he said: “The Beam group swooped in December and bought Cooley distillers and then cut off our supply without even a grace period. That is an appalling way to behave in business.”

He plans to turn his famous home into an independent distillery. “It has been a long-term ambition of mine, ever since that first show at Slane in 1981 when Thin Lizzy sang ‘Whiskey In the Jar’.”

Slane Castle Whiskey was put together with Noel Sweeney, the master blender at Cooley Distillery, and the earl’s son, Alex, who narrowed it down to three blends. “Alex then took these three blends to his father Henry and his grandfather Mount and after an enjoyable family evening the bottle with the least in it the next morning was chosen as the Slane Castle Whiskey blend. Three generations of the Conyngham family therefore chose the blend and in the near future the family also plan to launch a range of single malts.”

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