‘An expression of place’

When the Founders of West Cork Distillers, childhood friends John O’Connell, Ger McCarthy and Denis McCarthy started their journey in 2003, it made very little economic sense to open a distillery. Alas, the McCarthy cousins were eager for a change in career and there was a tradition of distilling in the O’Connell family. John came from a long line of distillers – albeit the illegal variety. His father came from Coppeen in the Coolea Mountains, the poitin heartland of West Cork, where many families ran their own stills. With that bit of knowledge, the lads set about making spirits.

Distilling began in a small room at the back of Den’s house in 2003 and it wasn’t until 2014 that the operation moved to Market Street in Skibbereen. As the business expanded, much of the distillery equipment was hand built as needed, such as the Rocket, reported to be ‘the fastest still in the world’ at the time. In 2020, the new distillery at Marsh Road, Skibbereen will open, making them the largest, wholly Irish owned distillery in the country.

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