Dingle Distillery. It’s not easy to get to Dingle, Ireland. It is at the bottom, west corner of the island and when you look at a map you can see how Ireland turns into a mixture of land and sea very quickly. It is probably the most well-known start up in Ireland right now and they were planning to launch their first release of single malt whiskey this month. I visited in October and was hoping we could get a sneak peek. They unfortunately would only let us try their gin. Our host was named Joe Joyce and he is a retired police officer of Dingle and is quite the character. He found me quite interesting with my notebook and we had a good talk after the visit. I hope they keep him on as the distillery grows!
The excitement of Dingle in the Irish whiskey community is because it isn’t owned by one of the big three players: Midleton, Cooley or Bushmills. They are independently owned by Oliver Hughes and his cousin Liam LaHart. They were not naïve to the industry though, they were part of beer/pub startups in the 90’s. The Dingle Distillery actually started production in 2012. Since then they have been producing their new make spirit for aging, but also utilizing a small pot still in the back corner of the facility to make their gin. Spirit is brought in and then they add their botanicals. Nothing is malted on site and is all brought in from local Irish maltsters. There are what looks like 6 wooden washbacks, but actually they took one of those and made it into a mash tun- quite clever. They run three water’s through the mashtun. Each washback can hold about 5,000 liters and they let fermentation run for about 60 hours. The pot stills are Forsyth’s and they have the classic Irish, three pot still set up. The wash still had no onion bulge, while the intermediate and spirit still did. All three of the stills had very long lyne arms. I was told that John McDougall will be helping them with their blending and that they have already decided that this first release will be all bourbon barrel aged. They are aging in everything from sherry, port and bourbon casks.
We were able to smell the new make spirit and taste a bit. It was quite grainy and oily, almost chocolate like. Not as floral as I expected. Their first launch at the end of Nov. 2016 is looming and they are expecting to release about 6,000 bottles of their first batch of single malt Irish whiskey. Bottles are said to be available in Ireland, UK and USA. They are already working on increasing production, but things have been quite different since the unfortunate passing of Director, Oliver Hughes in July. Hopefully the vision can continue with his cousin Liam LaHart. I have high hopes for this distillery and I know I may never be able to try this batch #1, but I will be patiently waiting for future batches!
Sorry, no tasting notes for this one.. more to come soon as I head to bourbon territory!