James Wilmore

Barry's day as Irish Distillers bids goodbye to main man

By: James Wilmore - 6 September 2013 11:49

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Barry Crockett is calling time on his 47-year Irish whiskey career

Barry Crockett is calling time on his 47-year Irish whiskey career

Emotions were running high at Irish Distillers earlier this week as the Pernod Ricard-owned company said an official farewell to its master distiller, Barry Crockett.

Barry, who has been with the Jameson producer in its various forms for an amazing 47 years, was the local star of the show at an event to showcase a EUR100m upgrade to the unit's Midleton Distillery in County Cork. Tastings, local food and live music were laid on for around 900 guests as part of the 'housewarming' festival. Journalists were also given a chance to nose around the site's new Garden Stillhouse and a new Irish whiskey academy and archive. 

But it was Barry's day really.

At the end of the festivities, a selected crowd was asked to come and see the main man speak and accept a gift. Bizarrely, the gathered throng were treated to the sight of a huge, gaudy, gold-framed portrait of the departing distiller and his successor, Brian Nation. A speech from Barry offered a mark of the man, as he spent little time talking about himself, instead regaling the crowd with anecdotes he'd discovered in the company's archives.

The portrait turned out to be a red herring, as behind it was a sign marking the fact that the company's old stillhouse has been renamed the ‘Barry Crockett Stillhouse’.

Irish Distillers CEO, Anna Malmhake, explained to me later the thinking behind the joke. Affectionately, she described Barry as “the perfect gentleman”, adding with a smile: “Having a big picture of himself is the worst thing he could imagine”.

The man himself was also treated to a standing ovation at a dinner held in one of the company's warehouses, rounded off with a live set by The Chieftains. 

Cheers Barry, enjoy your retirement.

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