GreatDrams visits the Connacht Distillery in Ireland

let’s begin

Based in the picturesque County Mayo, in a town called Ballina, Connacht Distillery was first opened in 2014 and is thriving today.

It is the brainchild of three Americans and an Irish man and brings distilling back to this part of Ireland after over 100 years.

Family Roots

These four are made up of two cousins, one from America and the other from Ireland, and two friends who came on board to lend a hand and a bit of knowledge. This includes over 30 years experience in the American Whiskey industry.

They are seeking to bring back traditional pot still distilling and offer a new, independent option for consumers on both sides of the pond.

A Masterful Master Distiller

Connacht is off to a good start, with Master Distiller, and co-founder, Robert Cassell, who studied the art of Whiskey making at Herriot-Watt before going on to win awards for his work in the crafts spirits industry.

As well as an extensive knowledge of Whiskey making, he also has experience in making Gin and Vodka, which the distillery also produces.

Not only is Cassell well renowned in the industry and comes with a wealth of experience, but he also hand crafted the three stills at Connacht Distillery.

Cassell himself has designed them, with the aim of making authentic Irish pot still Whiskey.

Connacht Founders

Cassell is joined by fellow Americans PJ Stapleton and Tom Jenson, who both have experience in the spirits industry.

Jenson, who hails from Chicago, Illinois, is half Irish himself, as his mother comes from Cloonacool in County Sligo, which is a stones throw from the distillery today.

He brings lots of experience navigating the American spirits industry, having been in the game for over 30 years. This includes his time spent as CEO of Remy Cointreau USA and also starting a craft distillery in Philadelphia.

Stapleton also has experience in the spirits industry, having been Chairperson of Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board as well as the National Alcohol Beverage Control Board.

He is part of the family duo that initially came up with the idea of starting a distillery in Connacht, with his cousin, David Stapleton being the other half.

This Stapleton is a native of Ireland, having been born in Galway and now residing in Castlebar.

Bringing a Tradition Home

Together with PJ, he came up with the dream to bring distilling back to Connacht. Today, they have succeeded and the Connacht Distillery is thriving. Everything is done on site at Connacht, from mashing right up to ageing.

The three stills that were designed by Cassell give the Whiskey a unique taste, as they have been created with very specific measurements. This is combined with the unique setting of the distillery, lying along the banks of the River Moy.

Tours are available at the distillery and are highly recommended, especially if you want to capture authentic Irish distilling methods in a beautiful Irish setting.

Connacht Distillery is an exciting development for the Irish Whiskey market and is definitely one to keep your eye on.

Tags: BallinaConnachtConnacht DistilleryRobert Cassell


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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