Old Carrick Mill Discovers A French Connection!

Monaghan whiskey trails and ‘The French Connection too’
Steven Murphy

A new County Monaghan distillery is being supplied with ageing barrels for its whiskey by a leading French winemaker to mark a long lost family connection having been re-established between Ireland and France.

Top Bordeaux winemaker Barton and Guestier is supplying 50 mature French oak 350 litre barrels  to ‘Old Carrick Mill’ distillery in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan because the old mill, once the leading flour mill in the region,  was once owned by the Barton family. To this day the building is still known locally in Carrickmacross as ‘Barton’s Mill’. It was originally run by the family of William Barton whose brother Thomas co-founded  the world famous Barton & Guestier wine business in Bordeaux in 1725.

‘Old Carrick Mill’ distillery owner Steven Murphy (30) established his distillery at the old 18th century mill complex at Derrylavin, Carrickmacross in 2014. He already produces award-winning top quality small batch gin and will commence distilling his whiskey later this year when the ageing barrels arrive from France. Sales of Irish whiskey have doubled over the past ten years with growth worldwide now averaging about 17% per year.   

Steven explained how  that ‘French connection’ was unexpectedly re-established when he brought his ‘Old Carrick Mill’ brand gin to the prestigious Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of America trade show in Orlando,  Florida where his gin was awarded a silver medal.
“At that trade show my stand just happened to be located right next to the Barton and Guestier stand. I got talking to one of their senior representatives who was amazed to hear that I was producing gin and whiskey back in Ireland exactly where some of the original Barton family members had lived.”  The Barton & Guestier representatives  were delighted to learn of the connection and particularly as the 300th anniversary of B&G wine approaches.

Steven added:- “Barton and Guestier have invited me over to Bordeaux this coming September but what is even more significent for me is that they have also promised to supply me with fifty vintage 350 litre French oak Chateau Magnol barrels which I will use to age my ‘Old Carrick Mill’ whiskey which I hope to start distilling very soon.”

A spokesperson for Barton and Guestier, Petra Frebault, said:  "We were delighted to learn of the connection between Thomas Barton, the founder of our company who settled in Bordeaux in 1725 and the family's link to Barton's Mill back in Carrickmacross in Ireland. To mark this Barton link between France and Ireland we will be supplying Old Carrick Mill with 50 of our vintage barrels for the production of whiskey at the old Barton homestead."

Fine wine is infused in the wood in these barrels and with locally sourced limestone filtered water and the whiskey’s key ingredients added during the distilling process it will give the whiskey a very distinct flavour.

With the gin distilling and distribution side of his business up and running Steven Murphy intends to initially part-fund his whiskey production by offering a once-off ‘Founder’s Reserve’ investment opportunity for each of the first  50 barrels of whiskey he produces.

The original 20ft diameter water wheel at ‘Barton’s Mill’, its French grinding stones,  malting room, sluces and wooden machinery are all still largely intact but in need of restoration. With a view to taking advantage of future tourism opportunities, the Carrickmacross businessman plans to restore ‘Barton’s Mill’ to a working mill once more and to significently boost employment in the area creating as many as 30 jobs over the next five years.

“My ultimate goal is to restore the mill so that I can practically use the malting room to ‘malt’ or gently heat locally produced barley to bring it to the perfect germination point for whiskey distilling before it is ground on the original grindstones for use in my whiskey distilling. I also intend to have a visitor centre and venue here too. This, along with the actual distilling process, is something that will bring tourists here. It will be a very unique attraction.”  

The Monaghan based distiller points out that whiskey tourism has become huge in the United States with a phenominal growth in visitor numbers on whats called ‘The BourbonTrail’ to established distilleries such as ‘Wild Turkey’, ‘Maker’s Mark’ and ‘Jim Beam’.

He concluded:  “There is no reason why here in Ireland and given our pedigree in whiskey production that  we cannot produce our own Irish whiskey tourist trail to bring tourists to the many whiskey producing locations throughout the country.”

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