In the late 19th century, The Liberties was at the centre of the global market for Irish whiskey. By the 1880s, the world’s largest brewery was here – Guinness & Sons at St James’s Gate – while the biggest distillery of its time lay across Thomas Street, the complex of George Roe & Co, at that stage led by the renowned Sir Henry Roe.
Irish whiskey production reached its zenith at this time, with huge markets open to it via the British Empire and the economically growing USA. Within the space of 50 years the product went into a near terminal decline. And in 1927, the gates finally closed on the sprawling Roe facility at Thomas Street.
The rise and fall of Irish whiskey is intrinsically tied to the history of The Liberties over the past 100 years, as a once dominant industry, which filled the area with brewhouses, stills, maltings, pubs and even dedicated workers housing, pettered out by the 1970s. Learn more about Dublin’s Golden Triangle.
However a new clutch of whiskey entrepreneurs have revived the fortunes of uisce beatha in the last 5 years. Here in Dublin 8 Teeling, Pearse Lyons and Dublin Liberties Distillery have all opened, repurposing old buildings and giving a new lease of life to old whiskey areas.
The famous Roe name has also made a resurgence. In 2019, Diageo dipped its toes back into Irish whiskey with the unveiling of Roe & Co Whiskey – a new blend inspired by one of the biggest names in Irish whiskey in the 19th century, George Roe. The iconic Guinness Power Station has been regenerated into a new visitor experience and urban distillery as a home for the new whiskey.
Located in the heart of Dublin’s whiskey district, visitors are treated to one of the most immersive experiences in whiskey distilling. A visit to the fully live, working distillery will also involve guests clocking in and clocking out as they commence a ‘shift’ at the Power Station with a time card, a nostalgic nod at the building’s past as an operational power station. The experience concludes with guests being able to clock off work with one of Roe & Co’s World Class cocktails in the showstopping Power House Bar.
The new home for Roe & Co has already garnered global attention, following the Lonely Planet announcement which named the distillery one of the 10 best new openings in the world for 2019. The distillery building has been regenerated with modern urban décor and an industrial feel. This is reflected throughout all design elements, from staff uniforms to a specially commissioned tiki print featured on bar ware. The contemporary tiki illustration reflects key elements of the Roe & Co story, from St Patrick’s Tower and the pear tree which has stood in the grounds of the former George Roe Distillery since the 17th century, to the iconic chimneys of Dublin’s skyline.
The Roe & Co blend was crafted by Master Blender, Caroline Martin, who chose an intense, fruity malt whiskey and smooth grain whiskies that have been slowly matured in first fill Bourbon casks. The new distillery boasts three unique copper stills and can run both triple distillation and double distillation, under the talented eye of Head Distiller Lora Hemy and her team.
Fun and flavour are at the centre of every aspect of the Roe & Co visitor experience
Visitors to Roe & Co get to experience a working distillery, located in the former Guinness Power Station – an iconic feature on The Liberties skyline since the 1940s.
“Fun and flavour are at the centre of every aspect of the Roe & Co visitor experience”, says Lora Hemy, “which transport guests on a journey of taste and discovery. Guests will enjoy a fully immersive 75-minute tour and get the chance to observe the operational live distillery, hear the hum of production and witness the copper pot stills and mash tun from an impressive elevated glass walkway. As part of your tour, visitors will learn about the history of George Roe, who ran his distillery until the 1920’s and helped build the golden era of Irish whiskey in the 19th century, putting it on the global map.”
Visitors will explore the unique process that makes Roe & Co a whiskey like no other in Room 106, named after the number of blends it took to perfect the Roe & Co blend. Take a deep dive into taste in the Flavours Workshop where guests will explore the five pillars of flavour; sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami, and uncover their ideal taste profile when it comes to whiskey cocktails. Finally, relax with one of Roe & Co’s World Class cocktails in the showstopping Power House Bar, designed by Drinksology, the creative minds behind some of the World’s 50 Best Bars.
Tours include a flavours workshop and a complimentary cocktail in the Power House Bar. Tours run from 11am-5pm daily, seven days a week. The Power House Bar is also open to the public daily, with extended opening hours every Friday evening for Power House Fridays. Last orders 9pm.
More on Roe & Co Distillery at www.roeandcowhiskey.com