Roe & Co. distillery will officially open in 2019, but the brand was launched two years earlier in 2017 with the release of Roe & Co. Blended Irish Whiskey. The Roe name itself has more historic origins and the new distillery pays tribute to a lost giant of Irish distilling: George Roe & Co. and their Thomas Street Distillery.
A small concern
The Thomas Street Distillery was purchased by Peter Roe in 1757 while it was “quite a small concern”, in the words of Alfred Barnard, “but every few years, as his trade increased, the proprietor kept building and making additions”. Barnard noted that “the entrance to the establishment is most striking and unlike any other distilleries we have seen, reminding us of some of the chateaux in France, with their ivy-covered walls and flower beds.” Passing through the family to the eponymous George Roe, the distillery soon became large and prosperous, and by the time of Bernard’s visit in the 1880s, the distillery’s annual output had reached around 2 million gallons, twice that of the neighbouring John Jameson & Son’s Bow Street Distillery. With the turn of the century, demand for Scotch whisky continued to increase and when the United States – a major export market – introduced Prohibition in the 1920s, the distillery was eventually closed in 1923. Following its closure, many of the distillery buildings were demolished, with just the iconic St Patrick’s tower (a 150ft high brick-built windmill, now without its sails) and a single pear tree from the grounds remaining.
Some 94 years after the Thomas Street Distillery closed, drinks giant Diageo announced that the Roe name would return to Dublin with a new distillery and an investment of €25 million. To launch the brand a new premium blended Irish whiskey was developed by Master Blender, Caroline Martin, in a process that took two years. The final blend was chosen for its apparent pear notes, a fitting tribute to the last remaining occupant of George Roe & Co.’s distillery. The new distillery is housed in the iconic Guinness Power House, close to the original site of the Thomas Street Distillery, restored and re-purposed as a three still operation to bring the Roe name back to the heart of Dublin and Ireland’s whiskey landscape.