Single Farm Origin
Baile an fhasaigh, the ‘place of the lush grass’, is surely a fitting place to grow barley. The Shees clan settled here to the west of the Nore river in the 15th Century. Defined by a geology of limestone and sandstone, Sheestown is a rolling, lowland terroir of well-drained loamy soil with outcrops of gravel and drier hilltops. Philip O’Brien has farmed here for half a century, while his daughter, Maura, works with us at the distillery.
Sheestown takes its name from the Shees, a family from Kerry who settled in Kilkenny and became loyal supporters of the House of Butler, earls of Ormonde, during the 15th century. Sir Richard Shee was deputy to the Lord Treasurer of Ireland during Queen Elizabeth’s reign but his descendant, Marcus Shee, was outlawed as a Jacobite in 1691 and fled to France. One of Marcus Shee’s descendants was the charismatic Duke of Feltre, who served as Napoleon Bonaparte’s Minister of War.
We're standing at the entrance to the fields in Sheestown. Soon the track moves up along the hedgerows, to a wooded area that skirts around the back of the farm. It's busy here with birds and later bees. The sound of the barley stirring is always present in the background before the breeze picks up a bit. Then we move into the fields and a little closer to the crop for the rest of the track.
Appearance: An amber hue, with oils that hold on for dear life.
Nose: Earthy, clove, fruit cake, lightly spiced poached pears in red wine, honeycomb ice cream, midsummer hay.
Taste: Gentle spice mix with lasting cloves that dries, citrus peel marmalade, porridge, fresh honey.
Finish: Long clove with spice that leaves a warm tingle on the front of my tongue.