CONNACHT WHISKEY / NEW LIBERTY DISTILLERY
If there is one word that applies to both the team at Romano Beverage and to one of our oldest friends, Tom Jensen, it is tradition. Tradition is what moved the Romano family to get back into the spirits business and it is what prompted Tom Jensen to pursue his dream of making quality pot still whiskey in Western Ireland. Today, those two traditions and old friends are reunited as Romano Beverage is proud to be the exclusive supplier in Illinois for two companies founded by Jensen — New Liberty Distillery/Millstone Spirits Group, LLC. based in Pennsylvania and Connacht Whiskey Company, the first Irish American craft distillery in Ireland.
After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1982, Tom began his career working at a Chicago-based wine and spirits business that had connections of its own to Notre Dame, Romano Bros. Then Tom earned his MBA from the University of Chicago, and worked his way up in the industry, becoming President and CEO of Remy Cointreau in 2005. When it was time for Tom to follow his dream to Ireland and create Connacht, he enlisted a number of friends and fellow Notre Dame alumni in the spirits industry to once again make quality pot still whiskey in Western Ireland.
It is so exciting to see an old friend’s dream come true and we are honored and privileged to be working with Tom and his experienced team as they bring together – and bring to our market – American and Irish heritage – and yes, tradition.
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At Driftless Glen our goal is to make spirits just as unique as the people who taste them, so when we searched the country for a terroir harboring the grain and water necessary to make a matchless expression of bourbon and rye, we couldn’t ignore the Driftless Area in Wisconsin.
We didn’t choose our home for the Driftless Glen distillery. Rather we discovered a bountiful region rich with peat, bogs, an amazing aquifer, and uncommon sandy soil for our grains to grow in. Now people come from throughout the country to discover this region for themselves and tour the refined distillation and tasting experience we offer.
Our edge of the Driftless Area is known as Sand County, and is distinctive from the rest of the world because of the specific combination of temperature, water, soil, and weather and which all combine to form our remarkable spirits.
Come visit us on the banks of the Baraboo River, the longest mainstream restored free flowing river in America, and witness the masterful distilling process we use to bring our unique spirits to life.
We take pride in our refined double distillation process that includes a 10,000 pound, 44 foot tall column still along with our one-of-a-kind pot still. Using grain and water from the Driftless Region, we produce and barrel bourbon or rye daily, and we are always happy to demonstrate how important superior distillation is to us.
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Way back in LYNCHBURG, TENNESSEE, the name Nearest Green has always meant something special. His birth name was Nathan Green, but his family and friends called him Uncle Nearest. No one actually knows how he obtained that nickname, so we assume he was the “nearest and dearest” to so many who came in contact with him.
Hailing from Maryland, one of the original capitals of whiskey making in the United States, we don’t know how or when Uncle Nearest made his way southwest to Tennessee. What we can confirm is he is the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States and thought to be responsible for helping perfect the Lincoln County Process, a requirement in being categorized as Tennessee Whiskey.
It should be noted that a 2004 book misspelled Nearest as “Nearis,” based on an incorrect spelling on the 1880 census. His name has always been and will always be Nathan “Nearest” Green—or to those who knew him best, Uncle Nearest. Now, it’s up to each of us to share his story and to make sure he’s given his due respect. Will you join us? Cheers!
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