Kilbeggan Irish Whisky
Situated on the banks of the River Brosna in County Westmeath, Ireland, Kilbeggan Distillery dates back to 1757 and is the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland. Now owned by Beam Suntory, the small pot still distillery was originally constructed for its access to grain, peat and the waters of the river, which it still uses today as its water source.
Under various owners the distillery remained functional until 19 March 1954, when production sadly ceased and the site was closed completely in 1957. It took twenty five years for activity to return the building, when the community of Kilbeggan restored the distillery through a labour of love which saved the site of disrepair. They preserved almost all of the old distillery equipment and maintained the distilling license, and soon Kilbeggan Distillery was able to be opened to the public as a whiskey distillery museum.
Whiskey production finally returned to the site in 2007, the year in which the distillery celebrated its 250th Anniversary, when Cooley Distillery bought the license, took over the museum and opened a new working distillery. A copper pot still made in the early 1800 was lovingly refurbished and put back to use on 19th March 2007, 54 years to the day when distilling had last taken place in Kilbeggan, making it the oldest working pot still producing whiskey in the world today.
In 2010 Kilbeggan became fully operational once again, with the installation of an oak mash tun and Oregon pine fermentation vats. The museum feature was converted into a distillery visitor centre, which continues to be a must-see for tourists, one that was recognised by Whisky Magazine's Icons of Whisky visitor attraction category in 2008. A 19th-century waterwheel in working condition is also used for contemporary purposes, and while the distillery can also be powered by a steam engine, it is rarely risked. Another striking feature are the three large stills that are currently not in operation, but were the original stills from the old Tullamore Distillery.