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.

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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.

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