First casks filled at Ardara Distillery

The Irish distillery produces heavily peated, triple distilled whiskey


Sliabh Liag Distillers have proudly filled the first casks with new make from their new Ardara Distillery in County Donogal. It took just 51 weeks from setting the foundation stone for the distillery to this moment. Ex-Bourbon casks were chosen for this first filling. The new make is triple distilled single malt whiskey made from heavily peated malt. Both single malt and traditional Irish pot still whiskey will be produced at Ardara Distillery. According to the latest press release, 500,000 liters of whiskey can be produced here every year.

The distillery equipment was manufactured and assembled by the Scottish coppersmiths Forsyths, and local contractors for all other construction work. As their distillery manager, Sliabh Liag Distillers recruited Graeme Bill, who is experienced in whiskey production and has worked in different whiskey regions such as Speyside, Kentucky and Canada.

Smoky Ulster-style whiskey production

“As a company, we want to create spirits that honour the deep traditions of whiskey making in this part of the world, so we’re distilling a rich, smoky whiskey in an authentic Ulster style.The first spirit to have flowed from the stills is truly outstanding – I’m sure my grandfathers, who were both poitín men, would approve. I think the spirit will take wood well, but we must now let the magic in the casks happen and busy ourselves with patience to see what effect maturation has,” James Doherty explains, who founded and manages Sliabh Liag Distillers together with his wife Moira.

She adds: “Sustainability has also played a huge factor in the design of the new distillery, with a focus on waste and energy reduction through initiatives such as our ‘all grains in’ approach that also sees waste going on to being used as cattle feed. We have also moved Meabh, our gin still, to the Ardara Distillery.”

Opening of a visitor center planned for spring 2022

James and Moira already run a small distillery in Carrick, 12 miles away. In July 2020 we reported on the filling of the first cask there. They also operate as an independent bottler and own for example the blended whiskey brand Silkie. Sliabh Liag Distillers‘ administration and bottling will remain based in Carrick. In total, the company plans to maintain a total of 40 jobs at the two locations as soon as the planned Ardara Distillery Visitor Center opens in spring 2022.


Image: Sliabh Liag Distillers