Back to Dublin after the storm: the Dublin Liberties Distillery
TL;DR: A much awaited reunion with two friends became a perfect opportunity for Teresa to visit another fairly new distillery in Dublin: The Dublin Liberties. But before then, we explored Irish whiskey from home.
(missed Part 1?)
Soon after our weekend in Dublin in 2020, we found ourselves stuck at home, unfortunately not baking much. However, during this unfortunate period, we started digging a bit more into Irish whiskey (well, into all things whisky to be fair). We got our first bottle of Redbreast 12, and in spite of the 40% ABV, we loved every drop of it. We also got a big Irish whiskey tasting for the Belfast Whiskey 2020. There were supposed to be a bit more than a dozen dram, finally they were 19 (it took ages to finish them all…) and among many forgettable drams, we found some quite nice ones (Dingle Single Malt, Sliabh Liam Dark Silkie, Dunville Three Crowns). Later that year, an Irish whiskey tasting was organised by Justine and Connor for the Edinburgh Whisky Group, and this time we found another true gem: Powers John Lane 12y, now one of our favourites. And we didn’t replace the bottle, but Jameson Black Barrel was an easy sipper for a while (we’d be very curious to try the cask strength version).
So, one bit at a time, we started navigating the world of Irish Whiskey, although to be honest we are still confused and a bit annoyed about one thing: sourcing. Well, not the sourcing in itself, which we have no problem whatsoever with, but the fact that many of the new distilleries don’t make it clear on the label when their spirit is sourced from another distillery (at the other end of the spectrum, an excellent example of transparency was the Raasay “While We Wait” expression, very clear indeed!).
It is with this background knowledge that I (Teresa) went to Dublin for the third time in less than three years. Only a good reason could bring me back to a nice, but still quite expensive city.
The reason was indeed really good, a reunion with two old friends back in August 2022. The plan was very simple: just a chilled-out weekend to enjoy the city, good food and, most of all, some time together, with not much sightseeing involved. My two friends are not much, or better, not at all into whiskey (yes, I have friends that don’t like it!), so any whiskey-related activity was also out of question. Nonetheless, the evening we spent in Temple Bar and its surroundings, I couldn’t resist the “Irish whiskey calling”, so I had a Redbreast 12y and a Yellow Spot. Both quite pricey (from memory between 12 and 15 euros for a 25ml dram), most likely because we were in a very touristy area (so my fault, really).
The two days went really fast and, after a morning in sunny Howth, it was already time for my two friends to head towards the airport. Not for me, because my flight back to Edinburgh was late in the evening, so I still had a few hours to spend in the city…That called for a distillery visit, of course! It was still very sunny, so I decided to walk to my destination, the Dublin Liberties distillery, where I had booked the last tour of the day (just in time!). At first, I wasn’t even sure I was in the right place, the neighbourhood looked very residential to me, and indeed I was already angry at myself for giving Gianluigi more evidence to laugh at my lack of orientation skills, but then I saw a small sign…I was at the distillery, phew!
While waiting for the tour to start, I browsed the shop: whiskey of course (but again no checked luggage, so I didn’t really pay attention to the bottles on display), the usual merchandise, but also a good selection of whisky books.
The tour started in a small room where the guide gave a brief introduction and made us (i.e. myself and three Americans) watch a video about the troubled history of the Liberties neighbourhood, including the famous 1875 whiskey fire. Such a young distillery (it started producing in 2019) doesn’t have much of its own history, so I found it quite clever to devote the first part of the tour to the roots of Irish whiskey in general. And all this while sipping a dram of Honeycomb liqueur (if memory serves me well), a bit sweet for my taste but nice touch!
Another nice touch was the information about where barley is malted (Cork), and about the location of the warehouses (Wexford) – in most tours you normally get this level of detail only if you ask. We then moved to production – mashtun, stainless still washbacks and of course the still room, where I found out that the distillery has a capacity of 700,000 litres of alcohol per year. Not huge, but still more than I expected. Unfortunately my more geeky questions (like about the cut) weren’t answered, which made me realise that knowledge of whisky production wasn’t really the strength of our young guide. She was still entertaining, so overall an enjoyable tour.
Finally, the tasting, which happened in the beautiful bar in a relaxed atmosphere. The two drams were two whiskeys, most likely sourced from other Irish distilleries (I didn’t ask), the Dubliner (3yr, 40%) and the Devil Oak (single malt, 5y, 46%, a bit confusing that they have also a blend with the same name, more prevalent). Probably because of the young age, none of them was particularly memorable, but I was surprised by how the Dubliner was very drinkable.
Back at the shop, out of guilt for my ignorance, I bought an Irish whiskey guide and made my way to the airport, where I found the perfect souvenir: a bottle of Yellow Spot, at a price (60€) that was almost too good to be true, compared with the 70-80 pounds we usually see it in Scottish shops.
Overall, nice to keep our exploration of Irish whiskey going. Until next time, Sláinte!
The Dublin Liberties Distillery Tour
Price: 18 euros (weekend tour, August 2022, 16 euros on weekdays)
Tasting: 3 drams, Dubliner Honeycomb Whiskey Liqueur (30%), Dubliners Blended Whiskey 3y (40%, likely sourced but not 100% sure), The Liberties Oak Devil Single Malt 5y (46%, NCF, NC, sourced)
Target: Anyone, but geared towards tourists and novices
Value for money: Good
Highlights: The history of Liberties covered in depth and the friendly staff
Recommended: Yes if you’re a tourist or you’re bagging distilleries, no if you’re an expert