Located in the countryside close to what was once Ireland’s medieval capital, Kilkenny City, Ballykeefe Distillery has the distinction of being close to where the first written reference to whiskey was documented in the Red Book of Ossory in 1324. Whiskey is mentioned by its Gaelic name ‘uisce beatha’ meaning ‘water of life’.
Ballykeefe Distillery is owned and managed by Morgan Ging and his family who trace their unbroken farming lineage as far back as written records exist. Morgan’s fascination with the shared history of Irish farming and Irish whiskey, led him to dream of one day diversifying his farming enterprise with the addition of a distillery. For centuries there were thousands of small family farm distilleries dotted across Ireland, a tradition that was lost for well over 200 years. Ballykeefe Distillery is the first to revive that historical legacy of Irish whiskey being produced on a working family farm, driven by family values and a commitment to exceptional quality.
Sustainability and protecting the environment are central to the business plan at Ballykeefe, with no expense spared to achieve the highest quality standards in every aspect of the distilling operation and tourist experience. There is zero off farm waste and high capital investment to ensure a fully sustainable, low carbon footprint in every aspect of the operation. Ballykeefe is a ‘single estate’ Irish whiskey distillery where all barley is sown, grown, harvested and distilled on the farm. This makes it a ‘field to glass’ operation, where the by-products of distilling, the pot ale and spent grains are a nutritious part of the ration fed to the cattle on the farm and revives many of the traditions of Irish whiskey making.
Super premium is the quality standard at Ballykeefe Distillery and as an authentic artisan, handcrafted operation, it is a hearts only distiller’s cut which means all heads and tails are discarded, with the emphasis on quality and not quantity. The Ballykeefe spirit range is produced in small batches in bespoke, handcrafted Italian copper stills, which have been built by the renowned Barison family. Ballykeefe produce a range of award winning white spirits including three gins, two vodkas and a poitín.
Guided distillery tours run daily from Monday to Friday (excl. Bank Holiday Mondays) at 16:00 from 1 March to 31 October. Guests will experience first-hand the sound, smell and feel of a fully operational distillery, with a behind the scenes tour visiting each stage of the brewing and distilling process. Visitors will sample the spirits in the repurposed horse stable which now serves as the tasting room, fresh with knowledge of their history and the craftsmanship devoted to their making. Tours can be booked via the website.
Visit one of the Kilkenny Whiskey Guild pubs to learn more about whiskey, or book onto one of their regularly organised tasting events.