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Birr Distillery

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Birr Distillery
FounderR.&J. Wallace

Birr Distillery is a distillery built in 1805 in County Offaly (previously known as King's County) in Ireland.[1]

The distillery was located close to Newbridge Street on the River Cam-Cor (meaning ‘crooked weir’). The three storey, quadrangular distillery was a substantial distillery at one stage with an annual output of 200,000 gallons, but not much is known about it today.[2]

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There were five distilleries in County Offaly, but by 1818 there were only two in operation which were both located at Birr. [3]

In the late 1840s, one of the distilleries closed, and the other was purchased by the Wallace Brothers who are only known by their initials R and J. [3]

Birr Distillery consisted of a malting floor, kiln and mill, mash tun, still room, spirit store and bonded warehouse.[4]

The Wallace brothers kept Birr Distillery in business up to 1889 until a fire broke out and put an end to the distillery. A worker fell asleep and the friction caused by the millstone ignited the surrounds. As the fire spread, casks exploded and there are reports that state ‘the whiskey flowed in a flaming mass down the Camcor River, turning it into a great swirling and flaming Christmas pudding,’ Many locals are said to have lined the town’s bridge with buckets to scoop up the water.[2]

In 1886, before the fire, a description of the distillery is given. Alfred Barnard, a British brewing and distilling historian visited the distillery. [5]

He notes that the building was made of limestone, that it was approached by carriage along the river, and that an impressive stone archway, draped in ivy lead up to the distillery. He also recorded how the building was split into two sections, with two main grain warehouses and two drying kilns positioned across the bank of the Camcor River, but he doesn’t mention how each section (grainery and distillery) were accessed across the river. [2]

There were only two old pot stills in the Still House, which is evidence of a double distillation process.[3]

There were 13 bonded warehouses which contained 3,000 casks and the 40 men employed contributed to the supposed 200,000 gallons that Birr reportedly produced and sold all over Ireland, England and the British Colonies. [2]

Barnard visited 28 distillers in Ireland, and although there is the least information available on Birr, to this day, it is one of the most intact distilleries in-spite of its abandonment. [3]

In the 1990s, it was bought by an English family who converted it to a summer house, while the other buildings across the river were converted into apartments. [2]

See also


  1. ^ "the old distillery, Birr, County Offaly".
  2. ^ a b c d e The Lost Distilleries of Ireland. Neil Wilson Publishing Ltd. 2012-02-14. ISBN 9781906000097.
  3. ^ a b c d "R.&J. Wallace Distillery - Birr, Co. Offaly".
  5. ^ Barnard, Alfred (2013-07-14). Alfred Barnard: The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom. ISBN 9780615850283.

This page was last edited on 16 July 2021, at 15:12
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