On a rainy, misty afternoon in Dingle County Kerry – weather which turns out just perfect for whiskey making – but not so much for mountain walks – we popped into the Dingle Whiskey Distillery, the town’s newest addition, to see what this small artisan distillery is all about!
The distillery was founded in November 2012 by Oliver Hughes – the man behind the Porterhouse Group, a pioneer in Irish craft brewing and also associated with several successful pubs in Dublin, Cork, Wicklow, New York and London. Seeing a positive change in the market for Irish whiskey, he decided to move into the whiskey distillation process and thought that his vision of a small artisan brewery was a perfect fit with Dingle’s rugged beauty and bustling town known for its craft goods and as a stronghold for the arts. The presence of the humid Gulf Stream was surely another factor, as the humidity of Dingle offers a unique element to their whiskey that other distilleries don’t have in the dryer and colder parts of Ireland. 100% Irish owned, it is only one of three working distilleries in Ireland today.
Housed in an old sawmill, it is envisioned that the old wheel will be restored, with an outdoor seating area planned along with perhaps a visitor center as well. Currently, the distillery is content in just getting its name out amongst the world’s whiskey connoisseurs. The first 500 casks to be distilled will be limited edition single malt casks, with whiskey lovers and investors, parting with their money to buy a cask – individual to its owner with a choice of finish from bourbon, to sherry, port and Madeira. The owners (otherwise referred to as The Dingle Founding Fathers) will be present from the very first steps of the process to when they deicide bottle it – although these initial 500 casks are to be at least 5 years in the making. Protective owners can even view their casks via web-cam – just to make sure it is maturing in restful slumber!
To visit the distillery, one can just walk in – although I would recommend ringing ahead and at present, there are no admission fees. It is rustic and very much a working distillery – not a slick operation like other similar distilleries in Ireland where you feel quite separate from the process. This distillery is charming and very much a real distillery – small and compact, you feel somehow involved in the whole process and their ethos to keep it small and personable, certainly won me over! Mary who kindly showed us around really added to the whole experience – affable and knowledgeable – for us she was the highlight!
When in full operation, it is thought it will produce some 400 litres of whiskey spirit weekly, with the gin and vodka production already underway and both on the market. I can vouch for the vodka – which was unlike any I had tasted before and visually stunning housed in a gorgeous blue bottle. We loved the tasting area – which was modern and chic and one of the best I had ever seen!
Guest post submitted by Niamh Allabyrne of TourIreland.com. Let TourIreland.com build in a Dingle Day on your tour of Ireland so you can pay a visit to this great distillery. With charm and character and a very real sense of who they are and what they are about, this should really not be missed! Sláinte!