Dublin Liberties Distillery recently began producing malt whiskey in the heart of Dublin 8. Master Distiller Darryl McNally talks to us about the innovative work being undertaken at their four-hundred-year-old premises.
You describe a visit to Dublin Liberties Distillery as ‘A whiskey experience like no other’. What can visitors expect to see there?
The regeneration of the Liberties has brought with it a lot of shiny new buildings, so we are very proud to have to been able to restore a beautiful old building that dates back almost 400 years. It previously housed a mill, a tannery and various other businesses so we are lucky to have secured planning permission for a distillery and, by doing so, cement the next chapter of 33 Mill Street. We are quite unique in that we have our own water source on site, having drilled down 30m to find it.
To the front, the stonework has been meticulously restored to its former glory. We have an absolutely stunning bar on the first floor where you can see the stills in the background as you enjoy the fruits of our labour. Our café and whiskey shop can be found on the ground floor, while to the back we’ve filled the full footprint of the site with a state-of-the-art distillery.
How has the history of the local area influenced the range of whiskey being produced at Dublin Liberties Distillery?
The Liberties was the original centre of distilling of Dublin in the 1800s. The area is now experiencing a regeneration and is at the forefront of the renaissance in Irish whiskey, so we are delighted to be a part of this. We exclusively distill malt whiskey at the Dublin Liberties Distillery, and our triple distilled malt is a hat tilt to the original style of distilling in Ireland, before taxation on malt was introduced in the late 1700s. Our whiskeys are inspired by the colourful past of the Liberties, and names such as Oak Devil and Copper Alley in our Dublin Liberties range are a tribute to some of those stories.
Lately we’re seeing great whiskey being matched with different kinds of food. What do you think works best with your signature range?
Irish produce is recognised around the world for its quality, so we know we are in good company when we pair with local suppliers. Our range of unusual cask finishes means that our whiskey can be paired with a wide range of flavours, so from Oloroso Sherry to Hungarian Tokaj casks there are a lot of notes to play around with. I personally love pairings such as dark chocolate and chillis, adding our whiskey to sauces for steak and even sorbets.
What cocktail would you recommend a) for somebody starting out on their whiskey journey, and b) for aficionados looking to try something different?
For someone starting out, you can’t go wrong with a whiskey sour. A well balanced one highlights the whiskey perfectly and is easy to drink. For something new, the bartenders of Dublin are constantly trying out exotic whiskey concoctions inspired by some of the world’s most iconic bars such as our friends at the Dead Rabbit in NYC, so there is plenty of choice out there to challenge the most experienced palate!
What’s your own favourite tipple?
That’s a tough one, it’s like asking a father which one of his children he prefers! At the moment I’d have to say our Dublin Liberties Keeper’s Coin, which is a 16-year-old single malt finished in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, served neat over ice.
What else can we look forward to seeing from Dublin Liberties Distillery?
Many more expressions of whiskey! We want to get a good run at our triple distillation, and then maybe experiment with some double distillation, as well as different malts and yeasts. We have access to a wide variety of casks from around the world so we will experiment with those too. I sit on the Irish Whiskey Association as part of a technical group which outlines what you can and cannot do within Irish whiskey. It’s important for all Irish whiskey producers to protect the reputation of Irish whiskey globally by producing to the highest possible standards, so at the Dublin Liberties Distillery we will always experiment and innovate, pushing the boundaries whilst being respectful of those parameters.
Dublin Liberties Distillery, 33 Mill Street Dublin 8