In the heart of Cooraclare, in County Clare, a unique venture is taking shape, one that combines the rich tradition of Irish whiskey with an innovative and modern twist. London’s renowned whisky connoisseurs at Tomoka have collaborated with Irish whiskey bonders JJ Corry to create an exclusive trilogy of whiskies. The first of which, the seven-year-old Bonder’s Edition, has now been released.

The driving force behind JJ Corry, Louise McGuane, brings a wealth of experience from her time at prestigious companies like LVMH, Diageo, and Pernod Ricard, where she worked on high-end spirits including Johnnie Walker Blue Label. However, her roots on a family farm in County Clare have instilled a deep appreciation for the connection between spirits and the land.

“The interesting thing about the drinks industry, I find, is that anything worth drinking started off in a field; any good wine or any good spirit has this really deep connection all the way back to the land,” says McGuane. It’s this philosophy that has laid the foundation for her journey back to her roots and the creation of JJ Corry.

In 2016, with only two distilleries in Ireland, McGuane saw an opportunity to rewrite the story of Irish whiskey. “It’s a real rebirth and renaissance for Irish Whiskey in particular,” McGuane says. “And I really wanted to be a part of that. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of the rebirth of an entire industry, particularly one like whiskey. There’s so much heritage there.”

Louise McGuane of JJ Corry crafting the bespoke Tomoka malt,

Whiskey bonding is deeply rooted in Irish history; and the bonders, who once mixed and matured whiskey in every town in Ireland, were an integral part of the industry’s past. JJ Corry’s latest venture with Tomoka draws inspiration from this history. The process involves maturing new-make spirit in a purpose-built bonded rackhouse and mixing it with mature whiskey to create a unique single malt. The first release is limited to just 132 bottles, making it “a never-to-be-repeated-again liquid,” McGuane says.

But the journey doesn’t end with the Bonder’s Edition. The remaining liquid from the first cask will be transferred to another cask, to evolve and transform over months, before its second release. And then a further cask will be used to evolve the taste even further, before a third and final release.

McGuane explains, “We’re ameliorating the flavour and taking those baseline spirits, and we’re fundamentally changing them from a flavour perspective by blending cask finishing.” She adds, “It’s this delicate balance that shows the complexity and variety that a whiskey bonder like us can produce.”

Tomoka x JJ Corry’s Bonder’s Edition

This commitment to innovation and craftsmanship is what sets JJ Corry apart in the evolving landscape of Irish whiskey. McGuane says: “I really want to make JJ Corry a voice for Irish whiskey and for the luxury side of the whiskey industry because that has been underserved in Ireland so far.”

Ventures like Tomoka and JJ Corry’s collaboration are paving the way for a new era of whiskey appreciation. McGuane aims to continue elevating Irish whiskey, opening it up to a diverse and discerning audience. She says: “We’re in a generation now that have decided they love whiskey again, and it’s a different kind of generation in that they care a lot more about the people that make it and the story behind it.” 

Tomoka x JJ Corry Bonder’s Edition is available for £110 from Tomoka. The whiskey leads with light floral notes, followed by sweet, green apple to follow. If you’re curious to explore Tomoka’s one-of-a-kind whiskies, you can visit Tomoka’s flagship store in The Royal Exchange, London.

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