Thursday, March 10, 2022

Bringing a little Irish heritage to Colorado

Ever heard the term Talnua? Yes? No? Maybe? I hadn't but once I did I wanted to know more. It’s an amalgam of the Irish-Gaelic words ‘Talamh’, meaning ‘Land’, and ‘Nua’, meaning ‘New.’ It also happens to be the name of one of the few women-owned and women-run distilleries, Talnua Distillery, in Colorado not to mention the United States. Co-founder Meagan Miller, General Manager Maya Oren and Creative Director Amy Kingman are the driving force behind Talnua and they are “trying to pioneer pot still whiskey in the U.S.,” according to Oren.
Talnua Distillery co-owner Megan Miller (left), creative director Amy Kingman (middle) and general manager Maya Oren (right). Credit: Talnua Distillery

Exactly what is pot still whiskey? Well, according to Wikipedia,

"Once the most popular type of whiskey in the world, this style of whiskey was historically referred to as pure pot still whiskey, Irish-style pot still whiskey, or – especially in Ireland – simply as pot still whiskey. The term "single pot still" was only introduced in recent years to overcome the United States Tax and Trade Bureau's objections to the use of the term "pure" in the labeling of food and drink.

The term should not be confused with the theoretical concept of whiskey produced solely in a pot still (which would also apply to single malt whiskey as well as some examples of pot still bourbon and rye whiskey).
Single pot still whiskey emerged as a means of avoiding a British tax introduced in 1785 on the use of malted barley for the people of Ireland. Although this tax was repealed in 1855, the popularity of the style endured until the emergence of blends in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In the 19th century, single pot still whiskey was the most popular style of whiskey in the world and formed the bulk of Ireland's whiskey exports. However, with the rise of cheaper, milder blended whiskeys in the 20th century, single pot still whiskey declined in popularity, and many formerly all-pot-still brands changed their production to become blends. By 1980, only two specialist bottlings remained in existence, Green Spot and Redbreast."
Now, Talnua is the first distillery outside of Ireland fully dedicated to making Single Pot Still whiskey. Making their public debut in 2019, they pushed through the pandemic with “a lot of pivoting” combined with “a lot of spur-of-the-moment decisions,” according to Oren. “You have to use at least 30% raw barley or un-malted barley and then at least 30% malted barley,” she said. “Most whiskeys are really defined by the grains that you put in them.”

They must be doing something right judging by the results from the World Whiskies Awards where their Olde Saint’s Keep 2021 took home Best American Pot Still and 12 Years & Under Category Winner. Toss in a Silver for their Virgin White Oak Cask and a Bronze for their Peated Cask, I’d say they know what they’re doing. While the Olde Saint’s Keep 202 is long gone, it’s an annual St. Patrick’s Day limited release, we are just in time for Olde Saint’s Keep 2022. This year’s version is aged in former bourbon and port casks, then the two were married and finished for 10 months in rare Pineau des Charantes Casks from Southwest France. With fewer than 1,000 bottles available on March 18th, I don’t see these lasting long. Hmmm… need to think who I know in Colorado that can grab me a bottle. Sorry, I was just scheming. Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah…

In a business predominantly dominated by men, these ladies are taking no prisoners and blazing their own trail. Like the distillery’s motto says, Faugh a Ballagh, which means ‘Clear the Way,’ it looks like Talnua Distillery is coming through!

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