The Wild Atlantic Way is thriving & The Sliabh Liag Distillery in Donegal has brought craft whiskey back after an absence of 175 years.
Here on The Whiskey Trail we always say “Every Whiskey Tells a Story” this is an understatement when talking about Sliabh Liag and Silkie Whiskey. Just as Donegal is often thought of as a place apart, the Sliabh Liag brands are intentionally challenging and seeking to be very different. The philosophy is simple: liquids and recipes which rely on strong local provenance and are worth talking about; striking designs that challenge conventional codes; to root each brand in a traditional local legend or folk tale.
James Doherty’s childhood holidays in Donegal nurtured a love for the folk tales of the Sliabh Liag peninsula and more importantly a dream for the future possibilities of bringing legitimate distilling to the Donegal Gaeltacht.
The Silkie is the first step in an ambitious journey. While they build the whiskey distillery, James and the team have sourced a blend of malt and grain whiskeys that when blended together deliver a signature soft mouth feel and a silken, easy character.
“While Burt Distillery ceased production in 1841, we know illegal distilling continued during the intermittent years, not least by my grandfather who was creating a smoky, double-distilled spirit under the authorities’ radar on the hills ‘up the glen’ in Kilcar. I think my grandfather would approve that we are now distilling the first legal whiskey in Donegal for nearly 200 years, and there’s a lovely sense of coming full circle.”
We will distill both single pot still and single malt whiskeys that will be triple distilled and peated, following the traditional peating of whiskey in the Donegal region.
“When Moira and I moved back here in 2014, it was with the dream of reigniting the county’s distilling heritage, and with the Crolly and Baoilleach distilleries, the county is getting there. Our new spirit smells lovely and drinks even better; it is soft and smoky sweet with a fresh pear note and a hint of treacle.”James and Moira Doherty
The Silkie takes its name from the ‘legends of the Silkie’, originating in Ireland, Scotland, and Iceland. They were the immortal fae-folk of the sea. They take the form of seals in the water but shed their skin when they come ashore, transforming into irresistible women.
Ambitious plans are in place to open the Sliabh Liag distillery in 2021, production capacity to 500,000 litres of alcohol per year with room for further expansion. In July 2020, the company aimed to raise €1.5m through a Crowdcube campaign to help build its new distillery in County Donegal. The fundraising drive, which opened on Wednesday 26 August, raised £1,588,885 (US$2m) from 830 investors to date.
The Legendary Silkie Irish is the perfect sipping whiskey, enjoy as it is, over ice or in your favourite whiskey cocktail. The signature serve for The Legendary Silkie is the Silkie Rua, Silkie mixed with premium ginger ale over ice and garnished with orange peel.
The Legendary Silkie Blended Irish Whiskey Information:
- Region: Ireland
- Distillers: Unknown – Sourced by Sliabh Liag Distillers
- Bonder: Sliabh Liag Distillers – An Dúlamán Distillery (‘The Seaweed’)
- Mashbill: Peated Malted Barley & Grain
- Cask: Bourbon
- Age: Non Age Statement (includes 8 year old single malt whiskey)
- ABV: 46% ABV – 92% Proof
- Filtered: Non-Chill Filtered
Silkie Whiskey Tasting Notes
Inspired by the tales of the mythical Silkie seals of the Donegal coast, The Legendary Silkie Irish Whiskey a balanced blend of double and triple distilled single malts, soft grain whiskey and a hint of peated malt. It is bottled by hand at 46% ABV and is non chill-filtered for a distinctively rich character. Although higher in ABV, The Legendary Silkie is exceptionally smooth with crisp green apple to the fore, ripe red fruits, gentle smoke and an oaky sweetness which gives way to a long lingering finish of gently warming spice.
This whiskey has a spirit forward nose with a lightly sweet dose of alcohol. It’s obviously a young whiskey and the alcohol can hide some of the more intricate tone. Take your time here and you’ll initially discover vanilla, toasted wood, sugar green apples with abundant sweetness. Hiding in the layers you’ll uncover under-ripe fruit apricot, white peach, a dollop of malt, and light smokey honey. Lovely clean flavours and fresh fruit.
Light woody oak tones greet you on the palate along with a drizzle of expected honey. Vanilla is a familiar note here and the green apples develop into menthol with a hint of caramel. The smoke from the peat is heathery, sweet and subtle.
The finish is quite short, slightly bitter (but I like that) it has a dryness with a hint of bitter apples. The menthol leave a prickling sensation on your tongue that finishes out with caramel oaky smokey sweetness.
Where to drink Silkie Irish Whiskey: The Olde Castle Bar & Fish Dock Restaurant
A traditional Irish bar and Restaurant, frequented by the locals, the Olde Castle Bar is a multiple award winning Irish Bar. It is situated in the countryside surrounding Donegal, beside a 19th century church building and in the shadow of Red Hugh O’Donnel’s Castle. The Fish Dock Restaurant in Donegal is home to the finest Donegal seafood, steaks, beers, wines & whiskies – served by the O’Toole family and their team, with a smile and a Cead Mile Failte!
Every Whiskey Tells a Story, What Will Yours Be?Sláinte from The Whiskey Trail
#EatDrinkExplore – By Paul Kavanagh