WhiskyFest Chicago Speaker Kevin O’Gorman
Master of Maturation
Pernod Ricard USA Irish Whiskies
“The production of Jameson is a complete team effort and could not be achieved without the input of the Family at Midleton.”
Not so much a mantra, but more an intrinsic part of exactly what makes the team at the Jameson Midleton Distillery so unique, Kevin O ‘Gorman’s words are a summation of the team spirit that runs through Jameson from grain to glass. An interest in working together to achieve the highest quality Irish whiskey, is a passion shared by all at Irish Distillers, and Kevin’s enthusiasm for the team effort that takes place in the maturation department at Midleton is highly apparent in conversation.
When asked what he likes most about his role as Master of Maturation, Kevin’s answer is telling; “everyone heading in the one direction”. The tasks of sourcing the casks used for maturing the raw spirit, smooth running of the maturation process and finally tending to the product as it matures in cask is always a group effort, and Kevin’s role is key to the final outcome of the unique combination of Jameson flavours.
Like his colleague Ger Buckley in the Midleton Cooperage, Kevin’s understanding of the wooden casks that Jameson matures in is an important aspect of the magical work that takes place during the maturation process. With a great passion for wood and a knowledge of the importance of sourcing quality oak for maturation, Kevin’s role includes working with the 150 year aged wood from Northern Spain, and when describing the arrival of the casks to the gates of the Midleton Distillery as a “truly special day of the year”, you can tell the romance of the Jameson story is definitely not lost on him.
“The long road from a forest in Galicia in Northern Spain, sawmills in Baralla, cask manufacture in Jerez and then the seasoning with Oloroso Sherry involves so many people, so many stories and quite an amount of logistics. The whole cycle could take over 150 years if you include the growing of the Spanish oak tree – sometimes you have to stand back and just think and absorb what’s happening”. An obvious love of the process and the collaborative endeavour is the key to all work at Irish Distillers, and no more so than in Kevin’s dedicated team, whose dedication he is in awe of; “from the moment you walk in the gates of the distillery this enthusiasm, dynamism and commitment to quality becomes apparent very quickly.”
A brand ambassador across the globe, Kevin represents the Jameson Family on an international scale, and fondly recalls encountering a Jameson fan on a recent visit to the Chicago Whisky Festival; “we arrived at the hotel and decided we would have a Jameson at the bar. While waiting, the very first order given by another customer was a ‘Jameson and ice please’. I travel over 3,000 miles across the world and the first drink someone orders in front of me was a Jameson – unbelievable!” A man hugely proud of his connection to both his craft and the quality it produces, Kevin’s group ethic encapsulates Jameson Irish Whiskey’s values perfectly.