Connacht Distillery today 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 and maintaining the award-winning quality of distillates, the Irish whiskey and spirits maker said.
He will also lead future innovation across spirits categories, with a focus on whiskey, at the Ballina, Co. Mayo based distillery, which has developed a portfolio of brands including Conncullin Irish Gin, Straw Boys Irish Vodka and Connacht Single Malt Batch, it added.
A native of Indiana, Friesen has moved to Co. Mayo from California where he was the founding distiller of Blinking Owl distillery, the first in California since Prohibition.
There, he created and released a number of spirits including two bourbons, a rye whiskey, and other aged and unaged products.
Welcoming the appointment, Killian O’Sullivan, commercial director at Connacht Distillery, said, “Coming to Ballina with his international experience and exceptional skillset, we have no doubt that Ryan [Friesen] 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.”
Wealth Of Experience
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," he added.