Introducing Sliabh Liag - The Kilcar Release

August 25, 2023

Sliabh Liag Distillers announced the historic release of the first legally distilled whiskey from Donegal since 1841. Sliabh Liag Single Malt Irish Whiskey - The Kilcar Release marks a significant milestone in Donegal's distilling history, rekindling an age-old craft and sharing the true spirit of Donegal with the world.

The painstaking efforts of Sliabh Liag Distillers have culminated in a remarkable achievement as they reintroduce Donegal’s distinctive smoky style – a style of Irish whiskey that had almost vanished. Distilled in the dark days of pandemic lockdown at the Sliabh Liag Distillery in southwest Donegal, Sliabh Liag showcases the dedication to preserving the cultural legacy of Donegal while ushering in a new era of artisanal craftsmanship.

Founder James Doherty, a passionate advocate for reclaiming Donegal's distilling heritage, said: "Smoky Irish whiskey has a deep-rooted connection to Donegal and Sliabh Liag, our first single malt, is about reminding whiskey lovers – and the world – of that. The art of distillation, ageing, and blending has been refined over centuries, and the northwest region of Ireland has contributed its own distinct touch. With a fusion of history, craftsmanship, and community, we are not just distilling a spirit; we are distilling the essence of Sliabh Liag, Donegal – its rugged landscapes, its resilient people, and its untamed spirit."

James added: “This moment is not only about the whiskey itself but about reclaiming our identity, our traditions, and our history. While Burt Distillery ceased production in 1841, we know illegal distilling continued during the intervening years, not least by my grandfather who was creating a smoky, double distilled spirit under the authorities’ radar on the hills ‘up the glen’ in Kilcar. It’s a special feeling to be releasing a spirit named in his honour; the first legal whiskey in Donegal for nearly 200 years, and a bridge between generations of Donegal distillers.”

Adding to this, Moira Doherty, co-founder of Sliabh Liag Distillers said: “Donegal's landscape imparts a character that is distinctively its own. The rugged mountains, wild heather, and briny sea air infuse Donegal whiskey with an unparalleled sense of place. We worked hard in lockdown to commission the distillery and be the first distillery in Donegal to be granted geographical indication (GI) status. We even sent turf from our own bog for the malting process and I distilled this whiskey in a double distilled heavily smoky style. James’s mum and aunt made it clear that the distillery was in the parish of Kilcar and that influenced the naming too. This whiskey is a tribute to this beautiful place and its people down through the generations. For us, the smokiness is more than a flavour; each sip is a connection to the past, and a celebration of the enduring spirit of a resilient community.”

Drawing inspiration from the region's rich history of whiskey production, Sliabh Liag Distillers has spared no effort in sourcing the finest local ingredients and utilising traditional methods to create a truly exceptional spirit. The result is a whiskey that not only pays tribute to the legacy of Donegal but also resonates with whiskey enthusiasts around the world who appreciate the art of whiskey-making.

Sliabh Liag (46% ABV) is a double-distilled smoky spirit made from Irish peated malt. The first cask was filled in the midst of the pandemic and matured in a first-fill bourbon American white oak cask. This smoky single malt Irish whiskey is exceptionally soft, fresh, and citrusy with rich chocolate notes to complement the pronounced smoke. Made from Irish Craft Malts barley grown in Meath and malted over peat from Mín na bhFachraín, the spirit’s smoky profile is true to what was being distilled in Ulster 200 years ago, and like the county itself, it is a contrast to the rest of Ireland in character.

Three of the earliest bottles in the run have already been auctioned for charity with two going to support the people of Creeslough at the Dublin Donegal Business Association Person of the Year evening and one to the child loss charity Rosabel’s Rooms in Galway.

The cask was cracked open on 27th July 2023 and the first sample bottles were bottled by the founders Moira and James Doherty, and James Keith and their families. The price per bottle is €300 and each decanter comes with a commemorative Tuath glass and a precious 2ml tasting sample. The angels have been greedy with this one, so, sadly, there are only 100 bottles available by ballot. Email to enter the ballot and be in with a chance of owning a bottle of Sliabh Liag - The Kilcar Release.

From their new home in The Ardara Distillery, Sliabh Liag Distillers are bringing the rich tapestry of Donegal's distilling history to the world stage, one bottle at a time. As the first drops of this exceptional whiskey reach discerning palates, they carry with them the essence of Donegal's spirit – a spirit that the team at Sliabh Liag Distillers is proudly reclaiming for the county and reintroducing to the world.

For more information on Sliabh Liag Distillers, visit: