Donegal could open its first whiskey distillery in nearly 180 years

Whiskey distilling is likely to return to Donegal after nearly 180 years, following the submission of a planning application for a new distillery.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 3:57 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd May 2019, 4:03 pm
The new Ardara Distillery could be the first whiskey distillery in Donegal for nearly 180 years (Photo: Shutterstock)

The new distillery could see the Sliabh Liag Distillers, who produce An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin, move from their current home in Carrick to the new location in Ardara in the south of the county.

It would be the first whiskey distillery in the county of Donegal since the closure of the Burt Distillery near Letterkenny in 1841.

The €6 million project will aim to employ around 40 people by 2028 and will have the capacity to produce 400,000 litres of pure alcohol per annum.

This is equal to around 1,700 filled casks, and more than 1.2 million bottles of whiskey when it is finally sold.

The company estimates the new distillery will contribute €52 million to the local economy.

What will they be making?

According to the Sliabh Liag website, the company will make Irish whiskey in both single malt and pot still variants.

Single malt is the more traditional way of making Scotch, with pot still a style of Irish whiskey which includes both malted and unmalted barley.

The website states the whiskey will be “highly differentiated” and will aim to reflect the way whiskey was made in the county in the 19th century.

They add, “Triple distilled, rich, smoky and peated, the whiskies share in the folklore of the Donegal Gaeltacht and will be steeped in the often illicit heritage of distilling on the Sliabh Liag peninsula.”

When will it open?

Sliabh Liag Distillers hope the project will be completed and up and running in 2020, pending the approval of planning permission for the Show Field site in the town.

The distillery will initially include the still house and barrel store, with the building to later house both a visitor centre and the relocated An Dúlamán Distillery and Poitín museum

They state on their website, “With the Show Field in Ardara purchased and planning applications submitted, we hope that the distillery will be operational some time in 2020.

“The distillery buildings have been designed by CornerStone Architecture of Donegal and will incorporate traditional shapes, forms and materials.”