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Sliabh Liag seeks €1.5m through crowdfunding

Irish spirits producer Sliabh Liag Distillers is looking to raise €1.5 million (US$1.7m) through a crowdfunding campaign to help build its new distillery in County Donegal.

An impression of the planned Sliabh Liag distillery in Ardara, County Donegal

The company secured planning permission to build the distillery and visitor centre in Ardara, County Donegal, in August this year, bringing whiskey production back to the county for the first time in 177 years.

The crowdfunding drive will launch on Crowdcube on Wednesday 26 August. The fundraising push is Sliabh Liag’s latest move to secure cash after it aimed to raise €3.5m (US$3.85m) last year. The Ardara distillery is a €10m (US$11.7m) project.

Founders and distillers James and Moira Doherty hope to “make Donegal to Ireland what Islay is to Scotland”.

This week, Sliabh Liag filled its first cask of whiskey, marking the return of distilling to Donegal for the first time since 1884. Sliabh Liag’s double-distilled “smoky” spirit made from Irish peated malt was filled into a first-fill Bourbon oak cask at the producer’s Carrick site.

James Doherty said: “It’s only now that the first cask is filled, ready to mature into a smoky single malt Irish whiskey that we feel we have really returned to Donegal.

“When Moira and I moved back here in 2014, it was with the dream of reigniting the county’s distilling heritage, and with the Crolly and Baoilleach distilleries, the county is getting there. Our new spirit smells lovely and drinks even better; it is soft and smoky sweet with a fresh pear note and a hint of treacle.”

“While Burt Distillery ceased production in 1841, we know illegal distilling continued during the intermittent 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. I think my grandfather would approve that we are now distilling the first legal whiskey in Donegal for nearly 200 years, and there’s a lovely sense of coming full circle.”

The creation of the spirit was delayed from earlier this year as Sliabh Liag shifted its focus to creating hand sanitiser for the local community.

The small-batch production will help the Dohertys start research and development while the new Ardara distillery is under construction.

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