The starting gun has been fired on an ambitious plan to bring whiskey distilling back to Donegal for the first time in 177 years. Sliabh Liag Distillers, producers of An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin and The Legendary Silkie Irish Whiskey, has acquired the Show Field in Ardara.
Led by company directors, James and Moira Doherty and James Keith, construction for the whiskey distillery is scheduled to start later this year, subject to planning approval, with distilling operations commencing in 2020. The new building has been carefully designed by Corner Stone Architecture to complement the village and its natural surroundings.
Commenting on the news, James Doherty, Managing Director of Sliabh Liag Distillers, said: “The design of the development is a mix of contemporary and traditional finishes which complement the village of Ardara. We have put considerable thought into the visitor experience and aim to create an opportunity for visitors to park in the village, walk along the Owentocker river, across a new footbridge and into the Show Field. It is important to us that local businesses benefit from the footfall, and if we can get visitors walking in the village, increasing their dwell time, then so much the better for the entire community.”
The new €6m distillery aims to employ at least 40 people and will have the capacity to produce 400,000 litres of pure alcohol per annum, which equates to approximately 1700 filled casks, and over 1.2m bottles of whiskey when the spirit is finally sold. As well as producing whiskey, the company’s An Dúlamán gin still will be moved from its current location in Carrick to the new building and a visitor centre is also planned. The visitor centre will include a poitín museum, exhibition space, tasting bar and shop.
The company plans to create a number of brands, including the Ardara and Sliabh Liag single malt and pot still whiskeys, heavily peated and authentic to the style of 19th-century whiskeys from the county. Gavin Shovelin of Corner Stone Architecture said: “We have really enjoyed working on this exciting project and designing such a major landmark for what is my home town. We see spin-offs for all aspects of the community and have designed a building that we think is truly unique but will look very much part of the town.”
For more information, visit www.sliabhliagdistillers.com