When the first drops of new spirit started to flow in the Dingle Distillery on a cold November night in 2012 something momentous was happening. This was the first whiskey to be produced in Ireland outside of the big three: Midleton, Cooley and Bushmills. The spirit was literally reborn.
Of course, Dingle is small. Our output of whiskey is 2 casks per day so we will never create a global megabrand. That is not what Dingle is about. We are creating a whiskey of superlative quality and unique character, the essence of Irish pot still distilled and matured on the far Atlantic coast of Ireland.
A key part of this process – and it has been a lengthy one – was a conversation between our founder Oliver Hughes and our distilling guru, John McDougall. Oliver said to John that when you taste new spirit it always tastes fiery and harsh and then the distiller will reassure you by saying something like “Oh, just you wait until it’s been in cask for a few years. It’ll be so smooth…” Well, added Oliver, how about putting nice, smooth spirit in the cask in the first place? Was this a revolutionary idea? And how could it be achieved?
John then explained that what you need for nice, smooth spirit, is plenty of reflux. You need a still with a built-in bulge in the neck – a boil bowl – so that the vapour doesn’t all rise right up and condense beyond the drop. You need it to condense and fall back into the still a few times before it eventually condenses and drips into the receiver. And so it was that we modified our still design.
Our very special stills are a key part of the Dingle Story. We take the best Irish malted barley and make pure pot still malt whiskey. Then we put it in casks and let the mild, moist, unique Dingle air do the rest. No whiskey in Scotland or Ireland experiences a maturation process like that. Dingle is definitely Dingle.
Of course, making whiskey is all about patience. The first Dingle Whiskey was released in 2016 which happens to be the centenary of Irish independence. Given our independent nature, we feel that this is a happy coincidence.