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.


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 started 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]


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]

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]

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]

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]

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 Digital Hub 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.

Related Research Articles

Irish whiskey Popular spirit made in Ireland

Irish whiskey is whiskey made on the island of Ireland. The word 'whiskey' comes from the Irish uisce beatha, meaning water of life.

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.

Powers (whiskey) brand of Irish whiskey

Powers is a brand of Irish whiskey. Historically a single pot still whiskey, the flagship Powers Gold Label brand was the first Irish whiskey ever to be bottled. In recent years, several single pot still variants have been relaunched under the Powers label.

The Great Northern Brewery, on the Carrick Road, Dundalk was an Irish brewery home to Harp Lager, formerly owned by Diageo. In 2015 the brewery closed, and production of Harp Lager was moved to St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin.

Jameson Distillery Bow St. Whiskey tourist attraction in Dublin, Ireland

Jameson Distillery Bow St. is an Irish whiskey tourist attraction located just off Smithfield Square in Dublin, Ireland. Jameson Distillery Bow St. is the original site where Jameson Irish Whiskey was distilled until 1971. It is now a visitors centre that provides guided tours, tutored whiskey tastings, JJs bar and a gift shop.

The Jameson Experience, Midleton, is an Irish whiskey museum and visitor centre located in the Old Midleton Distillery in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland. Set over 15 acres, since opening as a visitor's centre in 1992, the old distillery has received approximately 100,000 guests per year, receiving 125,000 in 2015.

Allman's Bandon Distillery was an Irish whiskey distillery which was established in 1826 in Bandon, County Cork, Ireland. The distillery closed in 1929 following financial difficulties. However, agents for the company trading under the name Allman, Dowden & Co., may have continued to sell off the existing stock which had built up in bonded warehouses, in both cask and bottled form, until 1939.

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.

The North Mall Distillery was an Irish whiskey distillery located in Cork City, Ireland. In its day one of the most famous distilleries in Ireland, the distillery was destroyed by a fire in 1920. Distilling operations never resumed at the North Mall after the fire, and it was later converted into a bottling and storage facility which was used by Irish Distillers until 2007, at which point operations were transferred to Irish Distiller's other bottling facilities in Dublin. In the mid-2000s, much of the site was jointly acquired by University College Cork and Mercy University Hospital, and has since been redeveloped.

Teeling Distillery Whiskeydistillery in Dublin, Ireland

Teeling Distillery is an Irish whiskey distillery established in Dublin in 2015. It is the first new whiskey distillery to have opened in Dublin, once a world whiskey distilling capital, in over 125 years. In fact, with the last of the original Dublin distilleries having closed in 1976, it is the first whiskey distillery to operate in Dublin, once home to at least 37 distilleries, in almost 40 years.

Dundalk Distillery

The Dundalk Distillery was an Irish whiskey distillery that operated in Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland between 1708 and 1926. It is thought to have been one of the old registered distilleries in Ireland. Two of the distillery buildings, the grain store and maltings, still exist and now house the County Museum and Dundalk Library.

Dalys Distillery

Daly's Distillery was an Irish whiskey distillery which operated in Cork City, Ireland from around 1820 to 1869. In 1867, the distillery was purchased by the Cork Distilleries Company (CDC), in an amalgamation of five cork distilleries. Two years later, in 1869, as the smallest CDC distillery, Daly's Distillery ceased operations. In the years that followed its closure, some of the buildings became part of Shaw's Flour Mill, and Murphy's Brewery, with others continuing to be used as warehouses by Cork Distilleries Company for several years.

The Watercourse Distillery was an Irish whiskey distillery which was established in Cork City, Ireland in 1795. In 1867, the distillery was purchased by the Cork Distilleries Company (CDC), in an amalgamation of five Cork distilleries. Following the amalgamation, the distillery was mothballed for a period at the beginning of the 20th century. However, operations at the distillery were later resumed, with production of yeast, industrial alcohol and grain alcohol occurring at the distillery until the 1970s. Distillation ceased at the facility in 1975, when Irish Distillers, who at that stage owned the Watercourse along with several other distilleries in the Republic of Ireland consolidated its operations in a new, purpose-built distillery in Midleton.

The Old Tullamore Distillery was an Irish whiskey distillery which was established in Tullamore, County Offaly, Ireland, in 1829. The original home of Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey, the distillery closed in 1954, having endured financial difficulties for many years, like many Irish whiskey distilleries of the early 20th century.

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.

Bishops Water Distillery

Bishop's Water Distillery was an Irish whiskey distillery which operated in Wexford, Ireland between 1827 and 1914. The distillery was named for a stream which ran along the back of the distillery, the Bishop's Water, said to possess "various occult properties derived from the blessings of the sainted Bishop of Ferns".

Nuns Island Distillery Irish whiskey distillery in Galway

Nun's Island Distillery was an Irish whiskey distillery which operated in Galway, Ireland, from at least 1815, and possibly as early as the late 1700s, until circa 1908.

Marlfield Distillery was an Irish whiskey distillery which operated in the village of Marlfield, just outside of Clonmel, Ireland between approximately 1817 and 1856.

Birr Distillery was built in 1805 in County Offaly, in Ireland.

Roe & Co Distillery is an Irish whiskey distillery established in 2019. It is located on Thomas Street, Dublin, Ireland near the Guinness' St. James' Gate brewery.


  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.