The Connacht Distillery announces new head distiller

The Connacht Distillery announces new head distiller

Indiana native Ryan Friesen joins Co. Mayo distillery from California

News | 18 Feb 2022

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The Connacht Distillery, producer of Irish whiskey and spirits, has announced the appointment of Ryan Friesen as its new head distiller. Collaborating closely with master distiller Robert Cassell, Friesen will be responsible for the production process from brewing to distillation, as well as product innovation.

A native of Indiana, Friesen has moved to Co. Mayo from California, where he was the founding distiller of Blinking Owl distillery. There, he created and released a number of spirits including two bourbons, a rye whiskey, and other aged and unaged products.

Friesen was also the vice-president of the California Artisanal Distillers Guild, which advocates for craft distillers in the state and creates legislation for the industry.

Commenting on his appointment, Friesen said. “I’m thrilled to be joining the team at Connacht Distillery and to have the opportunity to develop my craft. When you want to learn from the best, you need to go to the best, which is why I chose to leave California and move to Ballina. With the country's craft spirits movement in full swing, there's never been a better time to be a distiller in Ireland. I’m very excited for what’s in store at Connacht Distillery.”

Welcoming the appointment, Killian O’Sullivan, commercial director at Connacht Distillery, added, “I am delighted to welcome Ryan as our new head distiller. Coming to Ballina with his international experience and exceptional skill-set, we have no doubt that Ryan will play a big role in the exciting new chapters at Connacht Distillery as we continue to grow and expand into new markets and develop exciting new whiskies.”
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