Near Johnstown on Kilkenny/Tipperary/Laois border, lie the ruins of the ‘big church’, Domhnach Mór. Leeson Stanley farms in the barony of Galmoy - Gabhal Magh - or plain of the river Goul, where barley thrives on the gravelly loam derived from limestone and glacial till of the nutrient-retentive Elton Series. One of the more westerly of the farms, at 600 feet, an old saying goes one can see “The Devil’s Bit and the Hill of Rá”.
The Stanley farm is situated on land once owned by Charles Hely of Violet Hill House and Foulkscourt Castle in Johnstown. In 1845 he appointed Thomas Wright of Foulksrath Castle as the Agent of his extensive estates. In 1854, the towerhouse of Foulksrath Castle was owned by the Wright brothers. Coincidentally, given that surname, the castle served as the launch pad for one of Ireland’s first aircraft. The eccentric inventor Godwin Swift (who called himself Viscount Carlingford and owned the nearby land at Swift’s Heath) hoisted his aerial chariot onto the battlements and prepared it for take-off with his butler in the cockpit. Swift’s brother was meanwhile hosting a garden party in Rathfarnham, County Dublin, to which the chariot was supposed to fly. The flying machine was lightly catapulted off the castle and promptly plunged to the ground. The butler broke his leg but was rewarded with a pension for life. One wonders what the other Wright brothers would have made of that…
Head Distiller's Observations
Appearance: deep copper with slow, rich oils that caress and meander down the glass.
Nose: brown sugar, malted biscuits, vanilla seeds and apple and berry compote, barley husks, a slight clove spice and a fresh barnyard note that reminds me of my days working on farms.
Taste: crème caramel, white pepper, aniseed, apple crumble, mint chocolate, malt biscuits, apple drop sweets.
Finish: a mild spice with a maltiness that lasts long after the whisky has gone.