By Carol Quinn – Archivist at Irish Distillers
I have one of the newest jobs in Irish Distillers but I’m dealing with the oldest material! Based in the Distillers Cottage in Midleton, it’s my privilege to care for the historical archive of Irish Distillers, that is the records created by the firms of John Jameson & Son, John Power & Son and the Cork Distilleries Company and, after they merged in 1966, Irish Distillers itself. Our records date back to the eighteenth century, among them a unique set of monthly Excise receipts from Hewitt’s Distillery in Cork. It’s lucky for us that the tax man demanded such accurate record keeping; we can glean from those receipts the monthly output of whiskey, an important component in the historic economy of the region.
There are two main strands to my job, I manage the physical housing and maintenance of the archives. The individual items, once cleaned and assessed, are transferred to one of 5 purpose-built strongrooms in the repository. Work on converting part of the Distillers Cottage into a modern archival repository finished in late 2012, and in 2013 we saw the collection come together as a whole for the first time. The second facet of my job is to alert colleagues to the information in these records and how it may be relevant to the current business workings of the company. To this end I have been working with the various brand teams, our legal department and the brand homes, filling out the brand histories as I uncover new material and answering queries as they arise.
Working with me on a volunteer basis is our Master Distiller Emeritus Barry Crockett whose encyclopedic knowledge of distilling comes in very useful! It’s a fascinating job, some days I’m reading a ledger or minute book that no one else has seen in 100 years, the next I’m trying to date a bottle of Jameson the picture of which may have been emailed from a customer in Australia!