Kilbeggan Distillery is situated in Co. Westmeath and was formerly also known as Brusna Distillery or Locke‘s Distillery. Founded in 1757, closed in 1958 and reopened in 2007 it is now the oldest working whisky distillery of Ireland and in the world. It has a well documented historic proflie.

Lucky coincidences came together to conserve most of the distillery first as a museum and then the warehouses as a storing facility of Cooley Distilery, Co. Louth. In 1982 local people started restoring the old distillery and thereby conserved Kilbeggan Distillery as „...the last example of a small pot still whiskey distillery in Ireland.“ 85% of the original distillery machinery remains intact today.

Alfred Barnard visited Kilbeggan in 1886 and reports: „The Brusna Distillery is said to be the oldest in Ireland, having been founded in the year 1750. It covers nearly five acres of ground, and the adjoining lands extending for half-a-mile on the river side, are also owned by John Edward and James H. Locke. Both these young men are practical distillers, and it is owing to their enterprise that the business has increased and the output been...Having plenty of time, we first rambled through the old place with the partners, and afterwards commenced our duties by inspecting the Maltings which are all built opposite the Distillery proper. They are light and well ventilated buildings of five floors, capable of holding 10,000 barrels of corn. When we were there the yard at the back was crowded with farmers' carts, laden with barley put up in home-made flax sacks of a primitive shape and nearly 6 feet in length...We then proceeded to the Raw Grain Warehouses, which will hold 15,000 barrels of barley, to which is attached a Drying Corn Kiln, floored with Worcester perforated tiles, which seem to be in great favour with the Irish distillers...In the Brewing House we observed two Mash Tuns, each with a capacity of 12,000 gallons, fitted with a double-action stirring gear; the two Underbacks of timber which hold 5,000 gallons each, are placed on the paved floor of the house, and were made on the premises. Pursuing our investigations, we next visited the Tun Room, a large apartment, containing eight Washbacks, each holding from 10,000 to 14,000 the four old Pot Stills (by Miller & Co., Dublin), comprising a Wash Still, holding 10,320 gallons and 8,436 gallons; a Spirit Still, 6,170 gallons, and another 6,080 gallons.“  The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, p. 393.

See full description: or Alfred Barnard. The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom.

250 years of distilling Irish whiskey are well doumented. The families MacManus, Codd and Locke run the brewery and distillery. It had been always in Irish hands until 2011. Cooley Co. Ltd bought the assets of Kilbeggan in 2008 and was sold tothe American Beam Inc. in December, 2011. In 2007 spirit spouted again after Kilbeggan‘s old pot stills went cold in 1953. Thereby Kilbeggan became the oldest working Irish distillery.

„...the most exciting developments are the discovery of old recipes for some special bottlings of Locke’s. They include a highly spiced rye recipe, and a pot still receipt comprised of 35 per cent unmalted barley, malted barley, and a proportion of pinhead oats. Cooley has not launched a potstill whiskey before now,“ says Stephen Teeling. The barley malt is delivered by the Malting Company of Ireland near Cork (see The barley for the Irish Pot Still type of whiskey which is also distilled at Kilbeggan now comes from Kells Wholemeal (see At Kilbeggan they have begun recently to distil a traditional Irish Pot Still whiskey using an old Locke‘s recipe using 60% malted barley, 35% unmalted barley and 5% oats.

An excellent highly recommendable insight into the distillery‘s history and Irish distilling offers:

Andrew Bielenberg. Lockes‘s Distillery. A History. Dublin, 1993, 2007. Bielenberg discusses in detail the Bushmils assumption to be the oldest distillery of Ireland and gives evidence that the distillery on the banks of the River Brusna is the oldest Irish working distillery. (see, pp.2).

Today a Kilbeggan Single Malt, Kilbeggan Distillery Reserve, the first batch 001 was bottled in June 2010, is back on the retail shelves. The whiskey was matured in quarter casks. Only 1.500  bottles were released. There is a second batch which was bottled in April 2012 and is five years old. Bottling strength is again 40% A.B.V. The 1.500 bottles are non coloured and non chill filtered. They are exclusively available at the distillery.

The annual production in 2011 was about 130.000 litres of spirit and will increase in 2012 to 150.000 litres. 52,000 visitors visited the distillery in 2012.

There is a welcoming visitor centre with excellent guides. A restaurant  The Pantry is offering a very good choice of lunches and afternoon teas. Highly recommendable. For parties, prebooking is essential.

In 2014 the family owned drinks firm Suntory Holdings K.K. bought Beam Inc for $16bn (£9.7bn) in all, Suntory paid $13.6bn in cash and took on Beam's debt. Beam Inc aquired Cooley/Kilbeggan in 2011.

Distillery Manager: Hugh Gaynor (September 2012)

For more information in German please see:

Please double-click and thumbnail the photo to open the tour.

Thank you.