Donegal distillery fills its first cask with a peated single malt new-make spirit
The resurgent Irish whiskey industry has a new feather in its cap with the announcement that
Donegal is once again distilling whiskey. In the shadow of the imposing mountain of Sliabh Liag, a
double distilled smoky spirit made from Irish peated malt has been filled into a first fill bourbon oak
cask by Sliabh Liag Distillers (SLD). It is the first time since the closure of Burt Distillery in 1841 that
legal whiskey distillation has taken place in Donegal.
The small-batch production at its Carrick facility will help the company’s founders and distillers,
James and Moira Doherty, undertake valuable research and development while the business’s new
whiskey distillery at Ardara is under construction. The timing also marks an important period in
Sliabh Liag Distillery’s history as it prepares for a crowd-funding launch on Wednesday 26 th August to
help raise €1.5m of capital for the new distillery.
Commenting on the landmark occasion, James Doherty, SLD Founder, said: “We’ve done it! It’s only
now that the first cask is filled, ready to mature into a smoky single malt Irish whiskey that we feel
we’ve really returned to Donegal. 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.”
“While the success of our An Dúlamán gin and Silkie and Dark Silkie blended Irish whiskeys has been
rewarding”, James says, “the distilling genes in me knew this scatterling’s return wouldn’t be
complete without an Irish malt flowing from the stills. 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.” James added.
“There has been a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears to get to this point – especially last week in
hand-mashing 500L of wort for brewing – but it’s given us a huge lift as we embark on the next stage

in both our and Donegal’s history. Turf has been turned at the site of the Ardara Distillery and we
launch our fundraising exercise on Crowd Cube in a few weeks’ time. Once we are up and running
there, the future of Donegal Irish Whiskey will be even brighter.” James added.
The new make spirit is exceptionally soft and is fresh, citrusy and has rich chocolate notes to
complement the pronounced smoke. It has been made from Irish Craft Malts barley grown in Meath
and some malted over peat from Mín na bhFachraín. The smoky profile of the spirit is true to what
was being distilled in Ulster 200 years ago, and like the county itself, a contrast to the rest of Ireland
in character.
It was distilled twice in SLD’s copper pot still, known as Méabh. This first run of spirit has been filled
into a first fill bourbon oak cask. The creation of the spirit was delayed from earlier this year when
Sliabh Liag Distillers turned its focus to creating hand sanitizer for the local community during the
early stages of the pandemic.
When this very first whiskey is ready for bottling, it will give some indication of what James, Moira
and the ‘meitheal’ (work-gang) around them aim to produce at Ardara Distillery. The hope is to
make Donegal to Ireland what Islay is to Scotland.
For further information, interview, crowd-funding investor prospectus and photography please contact:
Mary Crawford, The Right Angle, 087 277 4739 or [email protected]
Notes to Editors
 Sliabh Liag (pronounced ‘sleeve league’) Distillers is independently owned.
 SLD is committed to reclaiming the distilling heritage of Donegal. In addition to An Dúlamán Irish
Maritime Gin, the company also produces the blended Silkie Irish Whiskey, Dark Silkie Irish Whiskey
and Assaranca Vodka.
 SLD has begun construction of its new distillery at Ardara, co Donegal. The state-of-the-art facility will
combine the latest distilling technology and a unique “all grains in” process with ancient Donegal
distilling knowhow to create a whiskey unlike that found in the rest of Ireland.
 On Wednesday 26 th August, the company launches its €1.5m fundraising campaign on (NB: it will not be live on the Crowdcube website before then.)

 Silkie, Dark Silkie, An Dúlamán and Assaranca are all distributed by Vine Distribution Services in the
UK. Established in 2000, Vine Distribution Services (VDS UK Limited) are importers and distributors of
premium drinks and other FMCG brands in the UK. Founded by Steve Brown and Paul Macgregor, VDS
is a sales, marketing and distribution company that specialises in the development of premium
alcoholic and non-alcoholic brands.