- 24 Mar 21
As rock ‘n’ roll returned this month to the banks of the Boyne, Alex Conyngham tells us how Slane Whiskey is turning up the flavour.
There were around 79,980 less people there than when Metallica brought the noise in 2019, but Slane was rocking and rolling again last weekend when Thumper and Damien Dempsey joined forces for a Slane Sessions special, which can be watched now on the Hot Press YouTube channel.
Shaking a socially distanced leg to their amazing collaboration was Alex Conyngham who, together with his father Henry Mountcharles, is always at the heart of the Slane action.
“We did it in one of the distillery foyer in the distillery and it was so exciting hearing live music again,” Alex enthuses. “I think we’ve all missed the reverb through the body, which you only get at a gig. With two drum-kits and four guitarists, Thumper’s is a big sound but Damien was more than a match for them! There was just so much joy and passion in their performance.”
Growing up as he did surrounded by music, Alex is struck by how much it has in common with whiskey.
“They’re both about blending good notes together,” he reflects. “What we’ve done is split our whiskey between three different barrels.
"These are virgin American oak, which gives you a massive hit of vanilla on the nose; seasoned Tennessee whiskey or Jack Daniel’s casks, which really sweeten the deep notes and give you loads of brown sugar and ripe banana; and last but definitely not least Oloroso sherry, which gives you delicious dry fruitcake notes with a bit of lingering baking spice on the finish. What we wanted to do with Slane is make it smooth, approachable and easy drinking, but turn up the flavour. It’s Irish whiskey amplified.”
Guns N’ Roses teased their 2017 Slane return with posters around Dublin that simply said: ‘Patience’. It’s a discipline, Alex notes, that you need plenty of if you’re making whiskey.
“We started laying down our first stock in 2018 so technically under Irish whisky rules that will reach maturity this year,” he explains. “Going by our rule, which is it’s ready when it’s ready, we’re going to give our juice a bit longer so it’s at the quality we want for our consumers to enjoy. We’ll start phasing our own juice into the blend, which we have out on the market at the moment, and our standalone whiskey made entirely at Slane will follow when it’s good and ready.”
Alex has fond memories of when those other giants of rock, Kings Of Leon, headlined Slane in 2011.
“We had a few civilised whiskies together followed by a game of table tennis in their backstage quarters, which Caleb won hands down,” he recalls with a smile. “So engrossed were the band in all of this that they nearly missed their chopper back to Dublin!”
While they sadly haven’t been able to receive visitors since the autumn, Alex and the rest of the Slane Whiskey crew have been busy prepping for when they’re able to open their gates again.
“We’ve been working on a deconstructed tasting experience where people can dive into the three different sorts of cask I mentioned earlier,” he reveals. “We’re also looking to a launch a combi-tour experience that will take in highlights of the castle and the distillery and some sessions where people will be able to come and craft their own cocktails. So, lots of plans and things to look forward to!”
• Watch the Slane Sessions on the Hot Press YouTube channel below:
Slane Irish Whiskey is available from all good off-licences.
Blaze A Trail. Sip Responsibly.