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Set in the little town of Ballina, County Mayo, we find the Connacht Distillery.

The distillery is the first of its kind in these parts of Ireland in over 100 years.

It was opened in 2014 by four men; three Americans and an Irishman and has been impressing critics ever since.

Connacht Distillery is the product of an endeavour between Robert Cassell, PJ Stapleton, Tom Jenson and David Stapleton (PJ’s cousin).

Cassell is not new to the Whisky game, having studied the art of distilling at Herriot-Watt, not long before he embarked on a seriously successful career in the craft distilling industry.

He is well known amongst Whisky drinkers for his knowledge and expertise, all of which he brings to Connacht with him, as well as his tasting skills, which make him perfect for the role of Master Distiller.

Part of his expertise also includes still making, and he designed the three pot stills at Connacht himself.

With him in this adventure are PJ Stapleton and Tom Jenson, who also have pretty impressive histories in the spirits industry.

Stapleton has been Chair of the National Alcohol Beverage Control Board as well as the Chairperson of Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Jenson has spent over 30 years in the spirits industry, serving time as CEO of Remy Cointreau USA and more practically, having also started a craft distillery in Philadelphia.

The last in our line up is the second Stapleton, David, who is an authentic Irishman, living in Castlebar. The whole idea for a distillery at Connacht was born from the minds of PJ and David, and they were lucky enough to get such experienced hands on board as well.

Much of what the team does at Connacht surrounds Whiskydistilling, but they have also produced award-winning Gin.

Named Conncullin, after both Lugh Conn and Lough Cullin, from which the distillery draws its water, this is an incredible Gin that showcases how good Connacht Distillery is at making spirits.

This Gin has been awarded 92 points at the International Review of Spirits. It is created from juniper, elderflower and hawthorn berry, as well as a selection of other botanicals.

The nose is fresh and clean, with lots of juniper and earthy notes coming through. The berries are instantly recognisable, with lots of flavour to them. The elderflower is especially well done.

On the palate, the berries really make themselves known. They are surrounded, but not overwhelmed, by a warming taste of citrus and juniper.

There is a slightly wooded quality to the juniper berries that makes this Gin smooth and mellow.

The finish is full of elderflower and more citrus, with a dazzling dash of lemon to end.


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