A small, family-run, craft-gin distillery, Sliabh Liag Distillers is the brainchild of James and Maria Doherty and the first legal distillery in Donegal for over 175 years. It’s set in a striking landscape of sheer cliffs and crashing seas and a tour demonstrates how the distillery incorporates local heritage and elements of the surrounding landscape into the premium Irish Maritime Gin. Learn about the history of distilling in Donegal and the ways that traditional knowledge has influenced the process of distilling here, as well as how ingredients harvested from the sea produce the gin’s delicate but complex taste.
On this shared, one-hour-tour of the distillery, learn about the history of distilleries, legal and illicit, in Donegal, as well as the long journey to setting up Sliabh Liag Distillers in 2017 and how Donegal distilling heritage has been incorporated into the processes here.
Next, meet Méabh, the distillery’s 500-litre, hand-beaten copper still. Named after a legendary Irish queen, Méabh means ‘she who intoxicates’ or ‘bringer of great joy’. Hear how the owners honed their distilling technique with a miniature still and experimented with blends of local seaweeds and botanicals to create a distinctive maritime taste for their gin.
Five seaweeds — sweet kombu, dulse, pepper dulse, channel wrack and carrageen — lend the gin a delicate but complex taste. Learn where the seaweeds are found and how they’re harvested by hand along the coastline and then combined with six different botanicals to create the gin’s signature appeal.
Your guide will explain how Sliabh Liag Distillers intend to be intentionally challenging to create a distinctive product with a strong local provenance. Learn how An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin leans on local heritage in many ways: its name comes from an Irish folk song that relates a conversation between two seaweed collectors, and its dark, stout bottles were inspired by glass found along the Donegal coast after the wrecking of Spanish Armada ships in 1588. You may also see the gin being hand bottled, sealed with wax and marked with a hand-written batch number.
Finally, taste the distillery’s award-winning gin, a complex spirit with a rich umami, as well as the distillery’s blended whiskey, Silkie. Like the Sliabh Liag gin, it relies on local folklore for its back story, the rich, sweet blend of malt and grain whiskeys have been crafted to reflect the allure of Donegal’s legendary silkies, shape-shifting seals who came ashore as beautiful young women and broke the hearts of local men.