The Irish midlands are a memorable blend of the green and grey – where the rugged landscapes merge seamlessly with the seemingly unending skies. Known for its scenic, old world charm, the region is home to Tullamore, the county seat for County Offaly. It is here that our journey begins, way back in 1829, when Michael Molly built a distillery in the picture postcard settings of Tullamore, on the site of an old distillery run by Joseph Flanagan.
Molly had a relatively short run at the helm, and by the early 1840s, had been succeeded by his nephew, Bernard Daly. It was Daly who brought in a new general manager to run the operations, a man who was to become synonymous with every bottle of Tullamore Dew ever bottled and sold since then.
The Man, and the Legend
Daniel E. Williams epitomized the romantic notions of the late-Victorian world. Starting out as a humble stable boy with the distillery, he made his mark as a hardworking visionary whose drive and determination to excel made people sit up and take note. Recognized for his dedication by Bernard Daly, Williams was appointed as the general manager of the Tullamore distillery during the 1870s (or late 1880s), elevating him to a position which was to change the Irish whiskey landscape forever.
Williams took to his new responsibilities with a missionary zeal, and focused on the creation of a whiskey that was distinct, and would go on to become a signature by itself. He also took a lead role in bringing electricity, and motorized transportation to the town, a move that received great adulation from the local populace. His vision and approach played a key role in the transformation of the distillery, so that by the onset of the 1900s, he had taken over as the owner, with each bottle of Tullamore carrying his initials – D.E.W.
Daniel’s vision and determination was continued by his grandson Desmond, an innovator and pioneer in his own right. He continued with the family tradition, revolutionizing the whiskey industry in Ireland and introducing what became Ireland’s first blended whiskey. A legend was born.
The distillery ran into troubled times towards the end of the first decade of the 20th century. The Llyod George budget of 1909-10, and the subsequent hike in the duty of spirits had an adverse effect on the growth of Tullamore Dew. By the 1920s, the worldwide slump in whiskey demands, fuelled further by the onset of Prohibition in the United States, had added to the distillery’s problems.
World War 2, as it swept across the world, did not help either, and by the early 1950s, Tullamore Dew tottered on the verge of closure. The inevitable happened in 1954, and the distillery that had come to occupy the place of pride for the hamlet of Tullamore, had finally shut shop.
Rebirth, and Tullamore Dew today
Efforts were made during the 1960s to reopen the distillery at Tullamore. However, nothing concrete came out of the efforts, and the brand name was sold to John Powers& Son. C&C acquired the brand in 1993, with the present owners, William Grant & Sons, acquiring controlling rights in 2010.
2014 became a major landmark in the Tullamore Dew saga, when the new owners resumed production at the historic home of the blend. The signature blend of the county seat of Offaly was back in business once again.
Tullamore Dew today is a triple distilled blend that aged in a combination of ex-sherry and bourbon casks. Known the world over for its distinctly smooth and gentle complexity, the brand is the second largest selling Irish whiskey in the world.