Dr Jack Ó’Sé is a modest gentleman, with an extraordinary CV. Half a dozen degrees, from a PhD to an MBA. He studied philosophy and theology, and entered training to become a catholic priest. He’s as comfortable with an IT database, as he is teaching students. But there’s one aspect of his career that is particularly interesting, to us. He is an industry veteran with decades of experience in Irish whiskey.
A true master of his art – Dr Jack is a distiller, teacher and above all, whiskey lover. Jack began his career in the spirits industry in 1979, joining Ceimici Teoranta (The Irish Alcohol Company), which produced neutral spirit for various Irish Creams. He was involved in all aspects of alcohol production, making the most of his BSc in biochemistry, which gave him a great foundation for mastering the processes of yeast production and fermentation.
Dr Jack Ó’Sé left Ceimici Teoranta in 1985. After a few years interlude working in environmental biotech, he re-entered the alcohol industry when he joined Alltech in 1998 providing products and solutions to the global beverage industry. Over the years, Dr Jack has absorbed experience from every aspect of whiskey production - from yeast production in Serbia and Brazil to working with all sorts of still types from large column stills and pot stills, to Vendome stills in Louisville. Jack commissioned the pot still distillery for Pearse Lyons Irish whiskey, specifying the design, supervising installation and running the process for several years; as well as The Burren Distillery, and the Achill Distillery both of which he continues to supervise the day-to-day process of producing at both locations. Dr Jack has worked extensively with the best Irish whiskey maturation experts and blenders in the world as well as expert coopers. This is where his savoir-faire and artistry is most prominent - blending, maturation, and finishing.
As his career has progressed, he has given back to the whiskey community by helping out the smaller folk: new and emerging Irish distillers who are looking to get their operations off the ground. He’s played a pivotal role in the growth of the Irish whiskey scene; at the start of his career there was just one distillery (Irish Distillers), today there are 30-odd.
It’s his passion, and the value he places on learning and pushing the boundaries of production, that enables him to create distinctive, outstanding whiskeys. Sailor’s Home Irish Whiskey is the summation of that, a labour of love for Dr Jack, marrying his passion for both the scientific and artistic approaches that are required when creating new whiskeys. The desire to create Irish whiskeys like no other for Sailor’s Home has seen Dr Jack explore an adventurous approach, inspired by his years of experience and his knowledge of all aspects of whiskey making. Sailor’s Home have launched with three expressions: The Journey Irish Whiskey, The Haven Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey and The Horizon 10 Year Old Irish Whiskey.
Dr Jack Ó’Sé has sourced and defined his ideal whiskey styles to create three truly distinctive and characterful whiskeys. These whiskeys are made in Ireland, and shaped by the world and a generous sprinkling of inspiration. Dr Jack focuses on the native personality of Irish whiskey, carefully ageing to maturity and leveraging his knowledge of wood policy, blending and finishing approaches to maximise flavours and complexity.
Irish whiskey as a protected Geographical Indication is something Dr Jack is intimately familiar with and passionate about – the breadth of flavours possibilities from grains and blends, depth and richness of malts, spiciness and mouthfeel of Irish pot stills. His philosophy is about creating whiskey at its full flavour potential – whether that takes 4 or 14 years and every combination between. The international cast of casks he uses for Sailor’s Home is testament to his adventurous whiskey making style too: virgin oak, ex bourbon, sherry, cognac and rum casks; sourced and selected from Spain, USA, France, Jamaica and Barbados.
Dr Jack Ó’Sé said: “We’ve created a range of three truly distinctive whiskeys made in Ireland but shaped by the world. It’s been amazing to work with these liquids, being adventurous with flavours is what Sailor’s Home is all about. We look to explore and go beyond, so that a new generation of Irish whiskey drinkers can join us along this journey of discovery.”
You can find out more about Sailor’s Home Irish Whiskey here, and in our Q&A with the Sailor's Home team here. Do check out Dr Jack’s three new whiskeys: The Journey Irish Whiskey, The Haven Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey and The Horizon 10 Year Old Irish Whiskey.