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Porterhouse founder to open Dingle Irish whiskey distillery

The founder of the Porterhouse group of Irish pubs is set to open Dingle Distillery, a new Irish whiskey distillery in County Kerry, Ireland next month.

Dingle Distillery John McDougall Oliver Hughes
Dingle Distillery’s John McDougall, consultant distiller, and founder Oliver Hughes

Oliver Hughes, who founded the Porterhouse microbrewery and pub chain in 1996, expects to start distilling his first Irish whiskey in the next few weeks.

Situated in the Old Mill in Dingle, the distillery is reportedly the first purpose-built distillery for new whiskey in Ireland for over 200 years.

Dingle has enlisted Scotch expert John McDougall as consultant distiller to start producing a triple distilled pot still single malt, which will eventually become Dingle Green and Dingle Gold.

Hughes expects the whiskey will be aged for around 4-5 years before it is ready for sale.

“McDougall said: “Dingle is the most westerly town in Europe, and the climate is a microclimate which will add to the nuances of the whiskey when it’s maturing particularly. Triple distillation is practiced in some of the lowland malt distilleries in Scotland, but it has the advantage to present the consumer with a gentle, smooth and velvety whiskey, which will be fantastic.”

In the meantime, Dingle Distillery will also produce Dingle Original Gin, a premium gin comprising of 10 botanicals including some from the local Kerry area, and Dingle Distillery vodka, both of which will be rolled out to the six Porterhouse pubs in Ireland, the UK and New York, as well as select export markets.

Irish whiskey renaissance

“I’ve been planning this distillery for a good few years now,” Hughes told The Spirits Business. “There’s a lot of whisky distilleries in Scotland which attract whisky tourism, but what do we have? We have three whiskey distilleries, all of them part of the biggest drinks companies in the word and none of them Irish. I felt this has to provide an opportunity for us.

“We pioneered craft beer in this country and people thought we were mad trying to take on Guinness and Diageo. They all said we wouldn’t succeed, and we did. We’re now applying the same principle here, just a number of years later and with whiskey.

“I’m looking forward to putting into Dingle an independent distillery making the most magnificent single malt whiskey.”

Dingle is inviting whiskey enthusiasts to distil, lay down and purchase one of the first 500 casks produced. Prices range from €6,100 for an ex-bourbon or ex-French or Spanish wine cask, to €6,400 for an ex-port and €6,600 for an ex-sherry cask. Those that do will be named a Founding Father of Dingle, a network of like-minded enthusiasts invited to an annual networking party at the distillery every year.

Asked whether Dingle would be likely to produce whiskey for other third party companies, Hughes said: “Our distillery is quite small; we are capable of generating two hogsheads a day. There are a lot of private labels out there but supplying whiskey for others is a big problem. I get calls all the time asking if we are going to do whiskey for other people and the answer is no. That’s why we’re building our own distillery.”

The news follows that of the release of a hybrid blended malt whiskey from the Teeling Whiskey Co, headed by former Cooley MD Jack Teeling, this month.


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