The Aodh: Spirit of the Underworld
The Craft Irish Whiskey Co. is constantly inspired by the rich mythology of the Emerald Isle, and none of our whiskeys more so than our latest ultra-rare release, The Aodh. This Halloween we’ve explored the Irish folklore and stories that inspired The Aodh and its award-winning design.
The Children of Lir
The Children of Lir is one of the most popular stories in Irish folklore and tells the tale of Lir, who was married to Aoibh, daughter of Bodb Derg, King of the Tuatha Dé Danann Aoibh. They had four children but after the birth of her twins, Aoibh died.
Bodb sent another of his daughters, Aoife, to marry Lir and they were happy, but after a while Aoife became jealous of the love and attention Lir gave to her four stepchildren and she vowed to kill them. But her servants, out of love for the children, refused to help in her murderous plan, and she was unable to carry it out herself. Instead, she took them to Loch Dairbhreach and once in the water, cast a spell that transformed them into four white swans.
While she wanted to curse them forever, she was convinced to set a time limit on the spell and cursed them to 900 years, with 300 on Loch Dairbhreach, 300 on Sruth na Maoilé and 300 at Iorrus Domnann and Inis Gluairé. But she left the children with the power of speech, and it was this that alerted Lir to their plight. Lir told Bodb of Aoife’s jealous treachery and she in turn was cursed, transformed into a demon and never seen again.
God of the Underworld
Aodh also holds a place in Irish mythology as the Prince of the ‘daoine sídhe’, a mythical group said to have descended from fallen angels. The daoine sídhe are said to descend from either fallen angels or the Tuatha Dé Danann, of which Bodb Derg was the king. As this god of the underworld, Aodh inhabits a place between day and night, dark and light.
The Aodh is the oldest whiskey The Craft Irish Whiskey Co. has created so far and it is this age, rarity and beauty that are encapsulated in the story of Aodh, one of the Children of Lir and legendary Prince of the Underworld.
Having grown up listening to the story of Aodh, Jay had been waiting for the perfect whiskey to honour with his name. The discovery of two small casks of single malt, originally distilled in 2001 – making it the oldest the company has ever released – was that whiskey. This was a single malt that had been trapped in its barrels for over three decades, just as Aodh, as the eldest son of Lir, was trapped in the body of a swan for 900 years.
Hidden just out of sight, these two 40L and 50L Sherry Oloroso casks had been almost forgotten and had spent over two years in their finishing barrels – almost unheard of due to the loss to evaporation and resulting cost. But it is those years that have created such a magical single malt, and one which has earned the distinction of bearing the name of Aodh.
To do full justice to both the liquid and the story of Aodh, Jay tasked Tiago Russo with creating its vessel and, true to form, Tiago delivered.
The Design of The Aodh
“As the oldest whiskey we’d ever released, and with only enough for 88 bottles, this liquid demanded a vessel and a story of equal significance. As one of the most important tales in Irish folklore, Aodh’s was a story that could do justice to the liquid. All I had to do was design a vessel to match.
The myths and tales of Aodh are the foundation for the soul of this product. A God of Fire, Prince of the Underworld, a dark and powerful entity that was once captured and condemned to 900 years imprisoned inside the body of a swan. To honour and protect the oldest and one of the rarest triple distilled single malts on earth, the design of The Aodh takes inspiration from this powerful image, trapping the liquid inside a spellbinding vessel to await release by a select few.
Very early on we moved away from the idea of a boxed design. Inspired by Aodh and his siblings, who were trapped but visible by virtue of retaining their voices, the bottle had to be trapped but seen.
The vessel itself had to be one of exquisite beauty, a product of desire. The fully rounded base means the user must hold the bottle; to feel its textures, appreciate its beauty, shape, colours, weight and secrets, amongst a spiral of gold detailing and amethyst. Much more than simply a bottle, a dark powerful spirit is transformed into a vessel of tantalising beauty.
The intention was always to create a product that would be held and interacted with. Just as people would have once shared stories and mythical tales around the fire, The Aodh has been designed to be held and passed from one to another, fostering an intimate exchange.
To hold the bottle upright and display it in all its glory, an exo-skeleton entraps the bottle, framed by a domed structure that reflects and highlights the colours of the whiskey, the amethyst stones, and the richness of the obsidian closure. Touch-activated, the lights turn on and the claws unfurl with swan-like grace, creating a winged effect and freeing the bottle. A throne-like stand nods to Aodh’s role as the God of the Underworld, demonstrating his power, while controlling it.
A two-part closure completes The Aodh. Crafted from a rich, dark obsidian, the closure contains a secret compartment. A trailblazing partnership with MJ Jones, a jeweller famed for its innovative designs, has led to the creation of a bespoke piece of jewellery. Hidden in The Aodh is a ring that fuses amethysts, diamond, 18 carat gold, silver and signature black armour to secure a hermetically-sealed capsule of The Aodh within. This ring denotes possession of The Aodh by a rare few who enter the history books as one of just 88 to own this precious single malt.”
In creating a whiskey, and a vessel, of such meaning, The Aodh honours Ireland and its folklore. The tale of Aodh and the Children of Lir is a timeless story, one passed down from generation to generation through the ages. In centuries to come, The Aodh has the potential to attain the same legendary status, entering folklore as an object of almost mythical beauty, a rare piece possessed by only a few.
To own your piece of Ireland’s future, inspired by its past, speak with a Craft Specialist now on +44 (0)20 8077 3632.Discover The Aodh