In 1815 there were four times as many illicit still seizures in Donegal than any other county of Ireland, and yet until the advent of Sliabh Liag Distillers there hadn't been a legitimate distilling presence in the county of Donegal since 1841. Read on to find out more in this month's Meet the Distiller.
James and Moira made their home in Donegal and have assembled a team that is reclaiming the distilling heritage of this proud county. The mission of Sliabh Liag Distillers and their journey started when they launched their first brand, The Legendary Silkie Irish Whiskey in 2016. An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin followed in late 2017 and Assaranca Vodka in late 2019. The company's brands are now available across five continents in sixteen countries. The company have just started work on a new €6m distillery in the village of Ardara, not far from their current distillery. The new Ardara Distillery will produce up to 400,000 litres of pure alcohol per annum, they plan to produce their gin, vodka, poitín and whiskey. The whiskeys that will come from the new distillery will be rich smoky peated whiskeys, authentic to the style of whiskey distilled in Donegal historically.
While all three brands have won many awards globally, An Dúlamán received the highest industry recognition from some of the most renowned names in the UK bar industry in securing the Gin Category Champion award at the Bartender's Brand Awards in the UK. Using six conventional gin botanicals and five seaweeds foraged on the rocky shores of the Sliabh Liag peninsula, they have captured the magic of the sea in this unique gin; some have described it as their love letter to the Donegal coast. An Dúlamán is a refreshing, savoury and complex gin with rich umami and hints of sweet stone fruit and roast chestnut. Mix An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin with lemon tonic for a refreshing summer drink, it also makes a mighty Negroni, the softness of the gin countering the bitter Campari.
The Legendary Silkie is an exceptionally smooth blend of double distilled, triple distilled and peated malts with soft grain whiskey, it is non chill-filtered and bottled at 46% ABV. Silkie has won multiple gold medals across the globe and is recognised for its rich soft complexity. The brand was inspired by the Silkie Seals of the Donegal Coast, legendary shape shifters who took the form of seals in the ocean and irresistibly beautiful women when they come ashore on moonlit nights. The Legendary Silkie Irish Whiskey is best enjoyed neat or over ice. Sliabh Liag Distillers recommend a Silkie Rua, Rua meaning red-haired or ginger in Irish - mix a measure of Silkie with a quality ginger ale and garnish with an orange peel.
Inspired by the majestic beauty of the Assaranca Falls that cut through the tranquil Donegal hills close to the distillery, Assaranca Vodka celebrates the landscape and the plants which grow locally. To create this unique vodka, Sliabh Liag Distillers take a soft triple-distilled grain spirit and redistill with rowan berries in the pot and the delicate gorse blossoms in the flavour basket. The finished product is bottled at 41% in a 50cl clear glass bottle. Assaranca Vodka has fresh sweet grassy notes on the palate. To make the most of the fragrant flavour profile, mix it long over lots of ice, garnished with mint, or in a fresh summer martini with a splash of vermouth.
Check out the full range here, or alternatively view all of our spirits here.