For years Irish whiskey has been relying exclusively on three main distilleries to produce a range of spirits to sell the world over and help build the now rejuvenated reputation of Irish whiskey. These distilleries are obviously Midleton, Bushmills and Cooley.
In recent times though we have seen a new wave of Irish distilleries appearing on the scene, all with their own ambition to start to diversify the range of Irish Whiskey available to the general public. One of these distilleries is Dingle.
Situated in the South West of Ireland, on the "Wild Atlantic Way", Dingle Distillery was created in 2012. Using their three gorgeous pot stills, the first spirit to be distilled in Ireland, outside the big three of Midleton, Bushmills and Cooley, ran from their stills back in November 2012.
Reading through their website, you can see that a key point in their whiskey making process is the design of their stills. They deliberately opted for spirit stills that would create extra reflux during the distilling process, allowing them to create a finer spirit to be filled into their ready waiting casks.
Their small, but "artisan", set up only allows them to create enough spirit to fill around two casks per day, so in their own words they understand they may never be a global megabrand, but having visited the distillery myself I can tell you that their passion, and will to succeed, is no less than any large distillery you would find anywhere on the planet.
With the main stills running, they set about creating single malt and pure pot still whiskey, and while waiting for these spirits to mature they also released their own brand of gin and vodka, which I'm sure many of you have already seen in a few bars, or off licences, around Ireland.
Now when it comes to maturing your own whiskey, a lot of people would have different views on how and when your first release should arrive. Some may say that you should wait for at least 5 - 6 years, allowing the cask to mellow your spirit, before allowing the public to form any opinion about what you are producing but Dingle kicked that idea firmly into touch by releasing their "Batch No.1" in late 2016, when the whiskey would have been around a very late 3 years old.
Some may ponder if a much needed injection of funds was the driving force behind such an early release but, having tasted "Batch No1" myself, I would say it's nothing more than a solid vote of confidence behind the spirit and whiskey they are producing in Dingle.
The first release of "Batch No.1" was a triple distilled single malt and it arrived in two forms, one of which was bottled at a healthy 46.5% ABV while the other was a much bolder cask strength version.
Needless to say, demand for both versions was phenomenal and most retailers saw their stock disappear before they could believe, but I now believe that a second release of "Batch No.1" is back on the shelves.
On a recent trip to Dublin I happened to pop into the whiskey shop attached to The Temple Bar itself. Inside the store they had a nice selection of whiskeys along with many open bottles if you wished to purchase a measure. As I'm sure you can guess I quickly spotted a 46.5% ABV bottle of the Dingle Single Malt "Batch No.1".
I've waited a long time to sample any official Irish whiskey, other than that of the big three, so naturally I purchased a glass and set about jotting down some tasting notes.
Now before I move onto my notes I'd like to point out, if it even needs to be said, that this is obviously very young whiskey and only an indication of where the distillery is at now and where it is headed in years to come.
Onto my notes:
Nose - Undeniably young with that peppery, new make, clove rock coming right through the spirit. Once you let it settle a while you pick up lovely notes of citrus with lemon biscuits seeming to dominate. The citrus is also represented by some light candied orange peel and a malted sweetness comes through also. Now for the "Dingle" effect which is something I haven't really experienced in an Irish whiskey to date. Running throughout the whiskey is a deliciously rich, salted butter undertone. The salt note, I can only presume, has obviously come from that gorgeous North Atlantic air sweeping off the coast where Dingle is situated. This is really good for such a young age.
Palate - Clean, crisp arrival that leads to more of the sweet malt and touches of pepper. The citrus also continues along with the obvious bite of youthful new make. At 46.5% ABV I was hoping for a much thicker coating around the mouth but the creamy butter element is still here to bring a little richness to the experience.
Finish - Crisp with lemon, apple and warming spices.
Overall this has really impressed me. Without doubt this is a young whiskey but it is already starting to display a tasty richness in the spirit and is, in my opinion, already starting to take on some coastal elements from the maturation process.
This, as a first release, is one to look out for and try for yourself. I honestly don't think Dingle Distillery could have asked for more to come out of this whiskey.
You can clearly see that their commitment to producing quality whiskey is there in the glass and, for me, this is a whiskey that is only going to get better, and better over time.
They will obviously be restricted to do this, but I hope they can bring out some form of release year on year so that we can all see exactly how well this delicious spirit is progressing.
It has always been a concern, of every lover of Irish whiskey, to see if all these new distilleries could actually walk the walk after talking the talk, but if you can manage to get a glass of Dingle Single Malt in your hand you can taste for yourself that Dingle are firmly on two feet and already walking in the right direction.
Until next time,