Thomas Street Distillery

Last updated
Thomas Street Distillery
Location Dublin
Coordinates 53°20′38.5″N6°17′02.8″W / 53.344028°N 6.284111°W / 53.344028; -6.284111 Coordinates: 53°20′38.5″N6°17′02.8″W / 53.344028°N 6.284111°W / 53.344028; -6.284111
OwnerGeorge Roe & Co.
FounderPeter Roe
Water source River Vartry, Grand Canal [1]
No. of stills8 pot stills (12,000 - 20,000 gallon) [1]
Capacity>2 million gallons [1]
Mothballed1923 [2]
Roe & Co
Type Dublin Pot Still [2]

The Thomas Street Distillery was an Irish whiskey distillery located in Dublin, Ireland. At its peak, it was Dublin's largest and most productive distillery and with an output of over 2 million gallons per annum, [2] twice that of John Jameson's acclaimed nearby Bow Street distillery. [1] Alfred Barnard, a British author who visited most of the distilleries in the then United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in the late 1880s, wrote that, at the time of his visit, the Thomas Street Distillery may have been the largest whiskey distillery in the world and probably had the highest output of any whiskey distillery in the British Isles. [1] However, the distillery later entered into financial difficulties, and closed in 1926. [2] Although most of the distillery buildings were demolished following its closure, a few were incorporated into the Guinness St. James's Gate Brewery and are still extant.

Irish whiskey

Irish whiskey is whiskey made on the island of Ireland.

Dublin Capital of, and largest city in, Ireland

Dublin is the capital and largest city of Ireland. Situated on a bay on the east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey, it lies within the province of Leinster. It is bordered on the south by the Dublin Mountains, a part of the Wicklow Mountains range. It has an urban area population of 1,173,179, while the population of the Dublin Region, as of 2016, was 1,347,359, and the population of the Greater Dublin Area was 1,904,806.

Ireland Island in north-west Europe, 20th largest in world, politically divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the UK)

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.


In January 2017, Diageo, producers of Guinness, announced that they would invest €25 million in establishing a new distillery in the old brewery power house building on Thomas Street, close to the site of the original Thomas Street Distillery. Production at the new distillery is planned to start in the first half of 2019. In addition, Diageo resurrected the original brand and launched a non-chill filtered, 45% ABV premium blended whiskey under the name "Roe & Co" in March 2017. [3] [4] [5]

Diageo alcoholic beverages company

Diageo plc is a British multinational alcoholic beverages company, with its headquarters in London, England and offices on six continents. It was the world's largest distiller until being overtaken by China's Kweichow Moutai on 9 April 2017.

Guinness Irish brand of beer

Guinness is a dark Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James's Gate, Dublin, Ireland, in 1759. It is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide, brewed in almost 50 countries, and available in over 120. Sales in 2011 amounted to 850 million litres (220,000,000 US gal). It is popular with the Irish, both in Ireland and abroad. In spite of declining consumption since 2001, it is still the best-selling alcoholic drink in Ireland where Guinness & Co. Brewery makes almost €2 billion worth annually.

Alcohol by volume

Alcohol by volume is a standard measure of how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in a given volume of an alcoholic beverage. It is defined as the number of millilitres (mL) of pure ethanol present in 100 mL of solution at 20 °C (68 °F). The number of millilitres of pure ethanol is the mass of the ethanol divided by its density at 20 °C, which is 0.78924 g/mL. The ABV standard is used worldwide. The International Organization of Legal Metrology has tables of density of water–ethanol mixtures at different concentrations and temperatures.


Roe's Thomas Street Distillery, circa. 1892. Roe's Thomas Street Distillery.png
Roe's Thomas Street Distillery, circa. 1892.

In 1757, Peter Roe purchased a small existing distillery on Thomas Street in Dublin. [2] The premises were gradually expanded with rising trade, until the distillery fronted South Earl Street. [6] Richard Roe continued operations at Thomas Street from 1766 to 1794. However, the distilling laws in the then Kingdom of Ireland limited any serious chance of expansion. [6] In 1782, he was operating a still with a capacity of 234 gallons. [6]

Kingdom of Ireland Historical kingdom on the island of Ireland between 1542 and 1801

The Kingdom of Ireland was a client state of England and then of Great Britain that existed from 1542 until 1800. It was ruled by the monarchs of England and then of Great Britain in personal union with their other realms. The kingdom was administered from Dublin Castle nominally by the King or Queen, who appointed a viceroy to rule in their stead. It had its own legislature, peerage, legal system, and state church.

In 1784, another member of the Roe family, Nicolas Roe, set up a distillery in Pimlico. [6] This distillery was a larger operation, and was recorded as having a still of 1,165 gallon capacity in 1802, which was replaced by an even larger 1,575 gallon still by 1807. [6] By 1832, George Roe had inherited both of these plants which were near to each other, and expanded them. [6] In addition, he leased additional premises in Mount Brown, which were used as maltings, kilns, and warehouses. [6] By 1827, output of the Thomas Street Distillery was reported as being 244,279 gallons. [7] George Roe's two sons, Henry and George, succeeded to the ownership in 1862, by which point the firm was large and prosperous, and the Roes a family of wealth and influence. [6] So much so that in 1878, the Roes could afford to donate £250,000, a very large sum in those days, to the restoration of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, and were knighted for their efforts. [2] [8]

Pimlico is an inner city area of Dublin, Ireland on the southside in Dublin 8. It lies between Thomas Court and Ardee Street. At the Thomas Court end of Pimlico is Pimlico Cottage. It is close to the St. James's Gate Guinness Brewery and the smell of the hops pervades the area.

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin Church in Ireland

Christ Church Cathedral, more formally The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, is the cathedral of the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough and the cathedral of the ecclesiastical province of the United Provinces of Dublin and Cashel in the (Anglican) Church of Ireland. It is situated in Dublin, Ireland, and is the elder of the capital city's two medieval cathedrals, the other being St Patrick's Cathedral.

With eight pot stills, the stillhouse at the Thomas Street Distillery was probably the largest in the world. Thomas Street Distillery - Stillhouse.png
With eight pot stills, the stillhouse at the Thomas Street Distillery was probably the largest in the world.

When Alfred Barnard, the British historian, visited the plant, it was at its zenith, and he described it as being one of the largest and best equipped in the world, occupying 17 acres, with eight pot stills in operation, an output of over 2 million gallons per annum, and a payroll of over 200 staff, including 18 coopers. [2] At the time, its largest export market was across to Great Britain; however, Canada, the United States, and Australia also represented important export markets. [6]

Alfred Barnard British historian

Alfred Barnard (1837–1918) was a British brewing and distilling historian.

Pot still

A pot still is a type of distillation apparatus or still used to distill alcoholic spirits such as whisky or cognac. Pot stills operate on a batch distillation basis. Traditionally constructed from copper, pot stills are made in a range of shapes and sizes depending on the quantity and style of spirit desired.

Great Britain island in the North Atlantic off the north-west coast of continental Europe

Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.

However, by 1891, the distillery was beginning to feel the impact of competition from Scottish distillers, and the company was amalgamated with two other Dublin distilling companies, the Dublin Whiskey Distillery Company's Jones Road Distillery, and William Jameson's Marrowbone Lane Distillery (not to be confused with John Jameson's Bow Street Distillery), to form a distilling behemoth, with a combined potential output of over 3.5 million gallons per annum. [2] However, following the loss of both the American and British Commonwealth export markets during prohibition and the Anglo-Irish trade war in the 1920s, the company suffered severe financial difficulties, and both the Thomas Street and Marrowbone Lane distilleries closed in 1923, with the Jones Road Distillery following suit in 1926, though distilling may have continued at Jones Road until 1946. [2]

Jones Road Distillery

The Dublin Whiskey Distillery Company Jones Road Distillery also known as the D.W.D. Distillery, Jones Road, or just Jones Road Distillery, was one of the six great Irish whiskey distilleries of Dublin city visited and documented by Alfred Barnard in his seminal 1887 publication "The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom". It was located on the north side of the city on the banks of the river Tolka, approximately a mile north of the city centre. The distillery was built by the Dublin Whiskey Distillery Company Ltd and the Irish whiskey produced sold around the world under the brand name D.W.D.

Marrowbone Lane Distillery

The Marrowbone Lane Distillery was an Irish whiskey distillery located on Marrowbone Lane, in Dublin, Ireland. One of the "big four" historical Dublin whiskey firms, it was run by William Jameson, a member of the Jameson whiskey dynasty. However, the whiskey now known as Jameson Irish Whiskey was not produced at this distillery, but at the separate enterprise run by John Jameson at the nearby Bow Street Distillery. The distillery closed in 1923 following financial difficulties.

Jameson Irish Whiskey single distillery Irish whiskey

Jameson is a blended Irish whiskey produced by the Irish Distillers subsidiary of Pernod Ricard. Originally one of the six main Dublin Whiskeys, Jameson is now distilled at the New Midleton Distillery in County Cork. In 2018, annual sales topped 7.3 million cases. Jameson is by far the best-selling Irish whiskey in the world. It has been sold internationally since the early 19th century, and is now available in over 130 countries.

Following its closure, many of the buildings were demolished in stages. However, a portion of the site was purchased by the neighbouring Guinness Brewery at St. James's Gate, and some of the buildings are still in existence, including the landmark St. Patrick's Tower. [9] [10]

During the 1916 Easter Rising, both Roe's Distillery and the nearby Jameson Distillery at Marrowbone Lane were used as outposts by the Irish rebels. [11]

St Patrick's Tower

St. Patrick's Tower, now on the grounds of the Guinness Brewery was once part of the Thomas Street Distillery St. Patrick's Tower.jpg
St. Patrick's Tower, now on the grounds of the Guinness Brewery was once part of the Thomas Street Distillery

Constructed in 1757, the year Peter Roe purchased the small distillery on Thomas Street, St. Patrick's Tower is a 150 ft high brick-built windmill which is believed to be one of the oldest extant smock windmills in Europe. [2] Once sited on the grounds of the Thomas Street distillery, it is now part of the Guinness St. James' Gate brewing complex.

See also


  • McGuire, E.B. (1973). Irish Whiskey: a History of Distilling, the Spirit Trade, and Excise Controls in Ireland. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan. ISBN   0064947017.
  • Townsend, Brian (1997–1999). The Lost Distilleries of Ireland. Glasgow: Angels' Share (Neil Wilson Publishing). ISBN   1897784872.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Barnard, Alfred (1887). The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom. London: The Proprietors of "Harper's Weekly Gazette". p. 375.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Townsend, Brian (1997–1999). The Lost Distilleries of Ireland. Glasgow, Scotland: Neil Wilson Publishing. ISBN   1-897784-87-2.
  3. "Diageo Returns to Irish Whiskey Category". The Spirit Business. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  4. "Diageo Return to Irish Whiskey Category". 30 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017 via
  5. "Roe & Co is an extraordinary expression of the very finest Irish whiskies". Diageo. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 McGuire, E.B. (1973). Irish whiskey: a history of distilling, the spirit trade, and excise controls in Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. pp. 338–340. ISBN   0064947017.
  7. "Account of Number of Gallons of Wash distilled in Scotland and Ireland, 1826-27". HMSO. 18: 447–451. 1828 via Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland (EPPI).
  8. "Thomas Street (George Roe) Distillery - Dublin". The Irish Whiskey Trail. Retrieved 2016-12-19.
  9. "Digital Hub, Thomas Street, Dublin 8, Dublin City". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  10. "Saint Patrick's Tower, Thomas Street, Watling Street, Dublin 8, Dublin City". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  11. "Outline of the 1916 Easter Commemoration Ceremony". Defense Forces Ireland. Retrieved 2016-12-19.