Steam engine flywheel at Locke’s Distillery, Kilbeggan, Westmeath, Midlands, Ireland.
A 19th-century waterwheel provides power to the equipment needed to make the traditional Irish whiskey. Nevertheless a steam engine was also installed to provide a back-up power source, in case of low water levels in the river Brosna, but has rarely been used.
John Locke’s distillery at Kilbeggan in County Westmeath is a working industrial heritage museum set up and run by local volunteers of the Kilbeggan Preservation and Development Association Ltd since 1982. In 1987 the site was bought by Cooley’s Distillery and in 2010 also secured the lease for the visitor’s centre there. To celebrate their one-millionth visitor, Locke’s Distillery Museum held a free open-day on 10th September 2011 which was well attended and a great success. Incidentally, the one-millionth visitor came from Germany.
Locke’s Distillery produces pure Pot Still Irish whiskey as well as having some 40,000 sq. ft. of storage space at Kilbeggan, also used for the storage and maturation of whiskey produced by Cooleys. Kilbeggan is also unique in having a 180 year old licensed pot still with a capacity to produce 25,000 cases a year of pot-still whiskey, most of it going to export. Since 2010 Kilbeggan distillery has also introduced its own full milling, mashing, fermentation and distillation processes carried out using more traditional methods.