Titanic Irish whiskey reduces age over scarce stocksBy Becky Paskin
The Belfast Distillery Company (BDC) is to reduce the age of its signature Titanic blended Irish whiskey as it struggles to obtain mature stocks.
Having launched Titanic Irish whiskey in 2013, a 40% abv five-year-old blend comprised of liquid sourced from the Beam-owned Cooley Distillery, BDC will reintroduce the brand in the next couple of months as a 46% abv four-year-old.
Michael Morris, sales director at BDC, explained the group’s 10-year supply contract with Cooley would only allow for the purchase of grain whiskey no older than four years.
“Although Beam told us they would honour the commitment to supply us with finished whiskey, they wouldn’t supply us with anything over four years’ old,” he told The Spirits Business. “Because we’re trying to establish the brand Titanic and credentials of the new distillery, we decided to sacrifice the year to get more production.”
BDC currently has just 300 cases of Titanic 5 Year Old remaining (carrying an RRP of £35 per 700ml), which will be divided among 15 international markets, including the US, UK and Germany, along with a 400-case consignment of Titanic 4 Year Old (for each market, and carrying an RRP of £29 per 700ml) over the coming weeks.
“It’s far from ideal; we would have loved this situation to keep more supply, but the problem is, if we don’t make the sacrifice on the year we will simply run out of whiskey far too quickly.”
BDC expects to begin work on its new £6m distillery in the Crumlin Road Gaol’s A wing within the next few months. The Irish single malt whiskey distillery will comprise of three 3,000-litre pot stills, which with a 24/7 production schedule, will produce around 300,000 litres of pure alcohol a year.
A third produced will be blended with sourced grain whisky from another distillery, and destined for the Titanic brand, while two-thirds of production will be ploughed into BDC’s new single malt brand, McConnells, and poitin brand Jailhouse.
McConnell’s Irish whiskey
Following the roll out of Titanic 4 Year Old, BDC will “drip feed” McConnell’s 15 Year Old single malt into its established markets. With just 2,500 bottles available, McConnell’s 15 Year Old carries an RRP of £120.
Named after the last single malt whiskey to be distilled in Belfast, McConnell’s is bottled at 40% abv. While the existing 2,500 bottles is expected to sell out relatively quickly, Morris believed the group could locate a second batch of liquid “as part of our ongoing commercial negotiations with our partners”.
“I’m very confident we will be able to buy some aged single malt off Beam/ Suntory,” he said. “That’s not contracted; that’s an understanding we have with them.”
However the second batch, he conceded, would likely be peated, non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% abv.
Jailhouse poitin will not launch until the BDC Distillery begins production in 2016.