The Ryans have been six generations in the whiskey business. In the 1820’s, John learned his craft in the Limerick Distillery (later Walker’s), before moving to manage Birch’s in Roscrea, Tipperary, near to his home farm in Toomevara. Son Michael worked with him and also supplied barley from the farm. Thomas (1873) oldest of his and Maria’s 12 children, was born when Irish whiskey still ruled the world (there were 5 distilleries within 50 miles of home), though Ireland itself was recovering from the Great Famine his grandparents had lived through, and Europe was in a turmoil of republican fervour. Thomas preferred the whiskey business to tillage, fascinated by the finishing of barley rather than its sowing.
At twenty one, he made the move to Dublin, second city of the British Empire, home to legendary distilleries, intent on making his mark, through the vintner’s trade, on the whiskey world. Following a long apprenticeship, he specialised in what became his life’s passion – to source, finish and bottle his very own whiskey, one that would display the family name. He finally hit on Ryan’s Malt, which became a firm favourite of Dubliners, the astute Thomas supplying the trade and dispensing in the string of city public houses he purchased along the way.