In this fascinating conversation with Pádraic Ó Griallais, founder and director of Micil Distillery, some of the topics we discuss include:
The history of distilled spirits in Ireland, with special attention to how pretty much every law or distilling practice somehow ties back to evading unjust taxes.
What it was like for Pádraic growing up in a family where distilling was practiced and taught using the oral tradition, and how his grandfather’s role as a seanchaí (SHAN-a-khee), or storyteller, had a massive impact on the way he tells stories using flavor.
We also dig into the history and common misconceptions surrounding Poitín, Ireland’s original endemic spirit and Micil Distillery’s flagship product. In particular, we cover what it’s made with, how long it can be aged, and why Pádraic and his team throw a local botanical called “bog bean” into the still whenever they make a batch.
Of course, we spend some time talking about the whiskey-making and barrel-aging initiatives at Micil, which benefits from being located in Galway, a city with a centuries-old tradition of sourcing excellent casks from mainland Europe.
Along the way, we cover the influence of crop rotation on Poitín mash bills, how to repair a still using porridge, incantations for confusing the police, and much, much more.
Pádraic and his team are at a really exciting point in the evolution of their growth right now. They’ve successfully taken a renegade distilling operation and turned it into a successful, licensed company, and they’ve got some excellent plans for growth that we cover toward the end of this episode.
Featured Cocktail: The Tipperary
This episode’s featured cocktail is The Tipperary. To make it, you’ll need:
1 1/2 – 2 ounces Irish whiskey
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce green Chartreuse
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine these ingredients in a mixing beaker with ice, stir until everything is well chilled and diluted, then strain into a chilled, stemmed cocktail glass, garnish with an expressed orange twist, and enjoy. This recipe dates back to the second decade of the 20th century, with entries in books by Hugo Ensslin and Harry MacElhone, and it has recently been revived and tweaked by the good folks at the Dead Rabbit in New York City.
Essentially, this is an Irish Whiskey Bijou, with the whiskey taking the place of gin and the Angostura bitters replacing orange bitters. But hey, if a Manhattan and a Martini can play this game, then we don’t see any reason why the Bijou and the Tipperary can’t trade base spirits and modifiers with similar success.