Kentucky-based animal health and nutrition group Alltech is moving part of its whiskey business to Ireland, birthplace of the company’s president and founder, Dr Pearse Lyons.
The move has begun with the shipping of a number of Vendome whiskey stills, used by multi-tiered Alltech’s Lexington Brewing Company and made in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.
The new Irish whiskey — which does not yet have a name — will be distilled by Carlow Brewing Company, founded by the O’Hara family in 1996 and best known for the O’Hara stout range.
Dr Lyons said: "A truly momentous event has happened as the first stills are shipped from Kentucky to Ireland, completing the cycle with this fantastic craft finally returning to its place of origin. This will set the stage for a new Irish whiskey with a Kentucky flair."
Carlow Brewing managing director Seamus O’Hara said the partnership will lead to jobs being created.
Mr O’Hara said: "This is an opportunity that we are delighted to explore. We have been working very closely with Alltech to get this joint venture off the ground.
"We have our own experts and we will also be trying to tap into Alltech’s expertise. And, of course, Dr Lyons also has a lot of personal expertise in this area."
A global food technology leader, Alltech is also respected in the US as the maker of Town Branch Bourbon.
Dr Lyons was once a master brewer in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. He comes from five generations of coopers and his grandfather was a master cooper.
Dr Lyons also holds a master’s degree in brewing and distilling, and a PhD in yeast fermentation. His son Mark Lyons also has a PhD in brewing and distilling.
When shipping the new stills from Kentucky on Aug 22, Dr Lyons noted that the date marked 221 days since Beam Inc, distillers of Jim Beam bourbon, purchased Cooley Distillery, the last independent distillery in Ireland.
Dr Lyons also noted that 2012 is 221 years since the Whiskey Rebellion — early Irish settlers in the US rebelling against George Washington’s tax on spirits. As a result, many moved to Bourbon County, Virginia, to create the first bourbon.
Because of this, Dr Lyons says he has begun his own revolution, bringing whiskey full-circle by taking his Kentucky stills back to Ireland, where the history of whiskey began.