Our story, like so many others, begins with a vision – the joining of a proud past with a present possibility. For Islander Carl O’Grady it meant turning an island history of hardship and isolation into a reputation for the production of hard liquor. Fine Single Malt Liquor to be exact. It would be of the Island and of the ocean. It would be the first (Irish) Single Malt to be aged at sea, to be gently moved and made new by way of the waves and to Mr O’Grady’s mind, it would require a resurrection of sorts.
Born of sea-faring stock, his father, grandfather and great grandfather before him had served as ferrymen to the island, carrying from the coast every imaginable thing that every man, woman and child could want for. Chris O’Grady commissioned a ‘big boat’ in 1969 from renowned wrights the O’Malleys of Curraun and for thirty years ‘The Dolphin’ served the people of Clare Island in weathers heavy and fair. Sold on in later years she ended up sadly sunk in the year 2000 but her story was unfinished. Thought lost, Carl O’Grady had found his cask-bearer. She was raised and reworked again by newer O’Malley hands and on Sunday June 18th 2017 the reborn Dolphin graciously accepted her new cargo – a single cask of single malt make spirit from the Connaught Distillery in Ballina. Time and tide would have their way, and scented by the salt air, seasoned by the sea breeze and informed by clean ozone, an altogether new character created.
The word whiskey does not appear on the label of our first release – Clare Island Single Malt Spirit Drink. Neither will it appear on any promotional materials or social posts. G.I (geographical indentification) certification exists to protect Irish producers of whiskey – just as our single malt new-make spirit produced at the Connaught Distillery was certified. That bond (as we say in the trade) however was not extended to The Dolphin’s hold for the maturation of the spirit. So in the spirit of full disclosure, this is why the word whiskey is absent. It is what it is.
THE SEA CHANGE
Ours is the pride that comes when endeavour results in achievement, when obstacles are surmounted and promises fulfilled. We have succeeded in taking one thing and creating another. We think that you might feel the change too, when you bring that glass down for the first time. What you are tasting, what you are feeling is the spirit of the sea, the soul of the island.