derek cronin, cooper, midleton distillery, co. cork.
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Irish Distillers appoints second new cooper in over 45 years

April 15, 2024

Derek Cronin successfully completed his apprenticeship under Master Cooper Ger Buckley

Irish Distillers, producer of some of the world’s most well-known and successful Irish whiskeys, today announces the appointment of its second new cooper in over 45 years.

Derek Cronin, who originally trained as a carpenter, has successfully completed his four-year apprenticeship under Master Cooper Ger Buckley.

His apprenticeship provided him with the opportunity to travel the world, spending time in Scotland, France and Spain working in a number of cooperages broadening his coopering skills and knowledge.

Derek, from Ardmore Co Waterford, is only the second newly qualified cooper at Midleton Distillery in more than 45 years. Prior to joining Irish Distillers, Derek trained as a carpenter and spent seven years living in Australia honing his craft. Upon his return, he worked as a carpenter with PJ Hegarty & Sons in Cork before joining Irish Distillers as a General Operative in 2019. Eager to return to his passion of craftsmanship, Derek commenced his apprenticeship to become a cooper in 2020.

A cooper is trained to make and repair wooden casks that play an important role in the whiskey production process, as the contribution from the wood has a significant impact on the flavour profile of the final liquid.

In his new role, Derek, who is registered with the Scottish Cooperage Federation, will be responsible for the repair and maintenance of over 2 million casks on site in Midleton, as well as participating in various coopering and cask related projects in the distillery.

Derek Cronin, Cooper at Irish Distillers said:

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Having trained and worked as a carpenter, I’ve always had a passion for craft and working with tools. When I joined Irish Distillers, I was immediately struck by Ger’s skill and knowledge and really admired his passion for the ancient craft of coopering. It’s what inspired me to train as a cooper.

It has been a privilege to work so closely with Ger over the last four years, learning about the craft and the history. I look forward to continuing to learn from Ger and expanding my knowledge and skills.

Ger Buckley, Master Cooper at Irish Distillers said:

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Training Derek in the art of coopering for the last four years has been a wonderful experience. His background in carpentry enabled him to hit the ground running and he has truly immersed himself in every aspect of the craft since the beginning, ensuring that the future of this age-old craft is in safe hands.

I would like to officially welcome Derek into the cooperage fold and look forward to seeing his continued contribution to the story of Irish whiskey in Midleton.

Midleton currently has two working cooperages with one based in the old Midleton distillery and a new cooperage located within the Spirit Store at the main distillery.