Birr

The below is taken from The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom by Alfred Barnard first published in 1887.

Birr Distillery, Birr, King’s County.

WE took Birr, or Parsonstown as it is also called, on our way back to Dublin, and unfortunately were obliged to stay in that town all night. We liked the town well enough, but the hotel we selected was not one of the best, and we have recollections of an uncomfortable night. The Distillery, which is near town, was established in the year 1805, and is built of solid limestone. The works are approached from the high road by a carriage drive or avenue, which runs for some distance along the river bank; a handsome stone archway, draped in ivy, gives access to the buildings.

The principal Grain Warehouses are situated on the opposite bank of the river, in an inclosure, entered by an old-fashioned pair of gates. Here are two Grainaries of five floors each, which contained 5,000 barrels of grain, and two Drying Kilns; the sub-ground floors are used as Bonded Warehouses. The corn is here delivered and weighed before being sent to the various Corn Lofts.

In the Distillery buildings there are altogether eight Grain Lofts, and the Mill contains two pairs of stones and a set of Malt Rollers. The Grist Loft, which adjoins the Mill, is above the Mash Tun; for supplying hot water there are four coppers. The Mash Tun is of the ordinary size and description, and near to it are four sets of three-throw Pumps. The six Washbacks have a capacity of 18,000 gallons each, and the Intermediate Charger is in the Still Room. In the Running Room there are five Receivers and the Safe. The Wash Charger is fixed on the roof of an annexe of the building.

The Still House contains two old Pot Stills, and adjoining there is a Spirit Store. In the yard there are thirteen Bonded Warehouses, which contained some 3,000 casks. We noticed a capital Cooperage, Stables, Engineers’ and Carpenters’ Shops. Forty men are employed upon the premises.

The following is a brief description of the arrangement of the Distillery. The centre court is called the Square Yard; the buildings on the north side are devoted to the Black House and Cooling Lofts, as also the Mill, worked by a powerful breast water-wheel, which discharges its waters over the Cooling Pipes, which are laid in the bed of the mill race, and over these pipes is the Worm Tub, fixed on an elevation of substantial stonework; those on the east, to Still House, Tun Room, Spirit Store, and Racking Room; on the west, Maltings and Kiln, Corn Floors for selected grain, Malting Steeps, and Bonded Warehouses; on the south side are Corn Stores and Bonded Warehouses.

The Whisky is produced from pure malt and grain; the annual output is 200,000 gallons, which obtains a ready sale in the principal cities and towns of Ireland and England, and shipments have been made to the Colonies.