DISTILLING IN THE NAME OF
With Ireland in the midst of a spirits revolution, we take a look at some of the country’s most innovative artisan distillers.
There’s no question about it: we have entered a new age in Irish distilling. While the spirit trade operated under the control of a small number of megabrands in previous decades, recent years have seen exciting artisan distilleries springing up all over the country. However, this phenomenon is not as new as we might think. At the dawn of the 19th century, there were hundreds of licensed distilleries in operation across the country – and thousands more operating illicitly behind-thescenes.
Sliabh Liag, based in Donegal, is one of several new distilleries intent on reclaiming their locality’s distilling heritage. Although the area was famed for its abundance of illegal stills in the 18th century, the family-owned business is the rst legal distillery in Donegal in over 175 years.
The rst gin to be distilled in Donegal, Sliabh Liag’s An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin takes inspiration from the area’s dramatic coastal landscape. The unique gin includes ve varieties of locally harvested seaweed, as well as six other botanicals, combining to create a remarkably well-rounded avour.
Sliabh Liag has also released Silkie, a blended Irish whiskey,
and plans to build a new distillery later this year, where they’ll produce both single malt and pot still whiskeys. Be sure to keep an eye out for their An Béal Bocht Poitín too, arriving in early 2020.
Also reviving a proud local tradition is Slane Irish Whiskey, who began operations in 2017 on Lord Henry Mountcharles’ iconic grounds. While the Boyne Valley’s fertile soil and pure water provided ideal conditions for several whiskey distilleries in the past, the practice largely died out over the years. However, Slane have spectacularly reversed that.
Slane Whiskey derives its smooth and complex qualities from the distillery’s signature triple-casked process. The whiskey is expertly aged in virgin and seasoned whiskey and Oloroso Sherry casks, which provide the unique raisin and spice avours.
Just over an hour’s drive away from Slane is Powerscourt Distillery, based in the similarly historic and picturesque Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, which proudly boasts one of the country’s nest whiskey masters, Noel Sweeney, as its Master Distiller. The distillery makes ample use of its natural resources, including spring water from an aquifer lake under the Powerscourt Estate, and has the ability to grow its own barley, which will allow it to become largely self-sufficient within a few years.
Powerscourt’s agship is the Fercullen 14-Year-Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey. Matured in bourbon casks for over 14 years, it’s gorgeously smooth, and perfectly balanced.
Although its roots go considerably deeper, Tullamore D.E.W. also reflects the positive shifts in modern Irish
distilling. Indeed, revolution has always been at the centre of the distillery’s mission – Daniel E. Williams, the company’s namesake, brought electricity and motor cars to the Offaly town, while his grandson, Desmond Williams, successfully introduced the rst blended whiskey to Ireland. Although the distillery in Tullamore closed in the 1950s, it returned to its ancestral home in 2014. Its legendary triple-distilled Irish single malt and blended whiskeys continue to offer a timeless avour, and the distillery has deservedly earned a reputation for excellence around the world.
Next to Kerry and the Dingle Whiskey Distillery, which has been at the forefront of the Irish spirits revolution for most of this decade. Crafted and conceived by the innovative minds behind the Porterhouse Brewing Company, Dingle Whiskey Distillery emerged at a time when the trade was largely controlled by three major brands in Ireland. Despite modest beginnings, a passion for quality and avour has successfully built Dingle Whiskey into one of the country’s favourite artisan distilleries.
Although Dingle Whiskey was their original product, they have since expanded their range to include the incredible Dingle Gin, which won Best Irish Gin at the Irish Whiskey Awards in both 2017 and 2018, and their innovative quintuple distilled Dingle Vodka.
With such an exceptional selection of spirits available throughout the country, Ireland’s unique distilling heritage looks to be in safe hands once again.