The historic Slane Castle has been in the Conyngham family since the early 1700s. The castle is open to tours, and private events like weddings can be booked there.
The grounds behind the castle along the River Boyne are where the Slane Concert Series takes place once a year. Up to 80,000 people have gathered here to listen to bands like U2 and Guns N’ Roses.
The distillery opened in fall 2017 next door to the castle. A great deal of money has been invested in the new visitor center and production facilities.
Much of the distillery was restored from dilapidated horse stables, staff quarters and blacksmith workshops that fell into disrepair over the years. These were all vital parts of the castle’s workforce in the 1700s and 1800s.
At the visitor center, get a close-up look at the germination process that barley undergoes before distillation. There’s even a small oven that the barley can be cooked in to dry it out.
The shiny new mash tun at Slane will eventually be one of the first steps in producing whiskey at the distillery. The current release is sourced and at the moment only a small amount of whiskey is being distilled here.
Slane co-founder Alex Conyngham stands by one of the wooden washbacks. The color of the wood reveals how new the equipment is.
There are three washbacks, with room for four more. The fermentation time for Slane Irish Whiskey is anywhere from 50 to 70 hours.
Three new copper pot stills will eventually produce pot still whiskey and triple-distilled malt whiskey, while a 100-percent barley grain whiskey will be distilled in a massive column still.
As production is moved in-house, new whiskey will replace the current batch of sourced liquid.
New make spirit will soon flow through the spirit safe for sampling and testing.
Three barrel types make up the “Triple Casked Maturation” process of Slane Irish whiskey – virgin oak barrels, sherry butts and ex-Tennessee whiskey barrels.
At the moment, there is no whiskey aging at the Slane distillery. A warehouse room will eventually hold a small amount of whiskey, but the majority will be matured offsite.
The distillery’s bar has a decidedly rock and roll theme. Paraphernalia from bands who have played the festival lines the walls, including Rolling Stones records and a photo of Bono. (Fun fact: U2 recorded “The Unforgettable Fire” at the castle.)
Don’t leave the distillery without ordering an Irish coffee, made with coffee from a local roaster, Irish cream and Slane Irish Whiskey, of course.