Thursday, October 31, 2013

Old Buildings and Equipment at the Kilbeggan Distillery

Water wheel
The most direct drive from Galway to Dublin takes you along a major motorway, which is pretty devoid of scenery.  But there are a number of small towns along the way if you decide you want to explore.  I ended up stopping at the Kilbeggan Distillery.  The Distillery offers both guided tours and self guided walking tours of the site.  I did a self guided tour and they provide you with an excellent guide that walks you through various well labelled buildings.

The Distillery located on the Kilbeggan river opened in 1757
Copper Pot Still
production on the site continued until 1957 when economic reasons forced the closure of the distillery.  Twenty five years after the closure the local community took over the site and turned it into a museum. The year 2007 marked the 250th anniversary since the establishment of the first Kilbeggan Distillery, in the same year whiskey production resumed on the site. By 2010 the site was working as a fully operational distillery once again. 

I loved the fact that this site combines a museum, historical buildings, and old distillery equipment with a modern day operation.  The site features a functioning water wheel and steam engine.  The old pot stills, fermentation vats, and processing rooms are also still on the site.  The interior of the structure is primarily wooden and the whole inside of the building had a creaky feel that reminded me of a barn.  Considering the fact that portions of the space were used for storage of grains I suppose the barn feeling makes sense.

Working portion of distillery
The self guided tour concludes with a visit to portions of the working distillery.  It was interesting to be able to compare the old equipment with the modern machinery currently being used -- the equipment looks very similar but is often made out of slightly different materials.  As part of the tour you also receive a complementary glass of whiskey and a small whiskey glass to take home. The variety of heritage features on this site, combined with the fact that the site wasn't very busy made the Kilbeggan Distillery an enjoyable experience.

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