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Fore Distillery, why not give it a shot!

Fore Distillery is a new craft distillery producing it’s own Golden Rum, White Rum, Poitin and Whiskey. Located close to the picturesque village and Fore Abbey in County Westmeath, they offer guided tours and tasting, with the ‘Barrel and Bean Cafe’ on site. Head Distiller & Founder, Oliver Guirke gives the guided tours and tasting, where he explains how the spirits are made alongside the history of Fore itself.

Head Distiller & Founder, Oliver Guirke

Fore Distillery produces it’s own rum

Oliver Guirke always had an interest in distilling. He emigrated to America in 1992 with the intention of learning how a craft distillery operated; “I was even more curious about the way moonshine works, so I took a few trips to Tennessee and Kentucky. The story behind Moonshine made me realise how important it was to tell a story, it has to be more than just selling a product”. (Moonshine is high-proof liquor that was made traditionally during the night, thereby avoiding detection.)

It was in America, where he learned the whole science of distilling rum, he explains ;“I try to emulate the Venezuelan sipping rums”. He uses the ingredients of molasses, which is a by-product of sugar cane, “I write down every little thing, during the the distillation process. In the beginning there is lot of experimenting. The distillation process is really a one man job because of people’s different palates, it has to be one person who does it and that is me.” Fore Distillery produces Golden Irish Rum, White Irish Rum and Irish Poitin.

The view of Lough Glore from the window of Fore Distillery

The Seven Wonders of Fore

On his return to Ireland, Oliver’s first task was to find the right place for his Distillery. When a site in Fore came up, his mind was made up when he started learning about it’s rich history and realised it overlooks the breath taking view of Lough Glore. The scenic Fore Abbey is just down the road from the Distillery, at the bottom of the beautiful valley. Oliver explains; “The monks were the first to bring distilling to Ireland and there were 300 monks in Fore, that is a huge part of the story we tell here on our tours”. The surrounding areas are also steeped in folklore and history, with the mythical Children of Lir deemed to be in nearby Lough Derravaragh. The ‘Seven Wonders of Fore’ have also acquired legendary status. (The Seven Wonders include: the monastery built on a bog; the mill without a race, the water that flows uphill, the tree that has 3 branches, the tree that wont burn, the water that wont boil, the anchorite in a stone and the lintel stone raised by St Feichin’s prayers.) Fore is also known as ‘Fobhair’ meaning ‘water springs’ which is used in the alcohol of Fore Distillery.

Fore Abbey


According to Oliver, their Irish Poitín is 48% alcohol and has an earthy kind of a flavour.; “When we are distilling Poitín, we can’t distill it at too high a strength or it loses a lot of the flavours”. The taste, he says; “is a unique flavour and bears no resemblance to what was made centuries ago. The modern Poitín has no relation to the illegal stuff back in the day. Poitin was banned in Ireland 1661 and they then made it legal in 1997. It is most popular now for cocktails especially for tourists, a bit like moonshine in America.”

Tours of Fore Distillery

The Fore Distillery Tours are ongoing, with sampling and tasting sessions part of the package. Oliver is hoping, because of the many tourist spots in the surrounding areas, some only half an hour away, that people will use Fore Distillery as one of the stop-offs. Fore Abbey is a stunning site, directly across the road, there is the 17th Century Greville-Nugent Mausoleum. With the great stories and cosy cafe, it’s certainly one place to add to your places to visit.

While there, you can walk St. Feichin’s Way, which is a 3km Looped Walk around the abbey. It allows visitors to explore each of the places of interest, while soaking in the natural and historic landscape.

Fore village is located just 4km from Castlepollard town in North Westmeath, and a 30 minute drive from Mullingar. See more to do around Fore here.

Greville-Nugent Mausoleum, Fore

All photos Ann Marie Kelly


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