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An area in Central Dublin to the southwest of the inner city, the Liberties is an historic working class neighbourhood, one time home to market traders, local family businesses and the Guinness Brewery as well as an array of whiskey distilleries. Like so many towns and cities however, the area has seen its fair share of poverty and depravity, particularly when vast sections of industry closed down and removed employment prospects for the local population.
Today the area is undergoing something of a rejuvenation however with new breweries and distilleries opening on a regular basis. When Teeling opened their distillery in 2014, it was the first in the city for more than 100 years but new developments followed from the likes of the Dublin Whiskey Company, Galway Bay Brewery, 5 Lamps Brewery and the Pearse Lyons Distillery. The latest addition to the area is the Dublin Liberties Distillery which went into production back in February of last year.
A partnership between Quintessential Brands founders Warren Scott and Enzo Visone with master distiller of 20 years experience Darryl McNally, the distillery occupies a 400 year old former mill and tannery on Mill Street and will exclusively produce a triple distilled malt whiskey.
While their new spirit matures, Dublin Liberties have a range of products already available, presumably produced at another of Ireland’s distilleries. In 2019 I was sent four samples of their whiskey in order to take part in a tweet tasting hosted by Steve Rush of the Whisky Wire. Since I found the drams to be both interesting and enjoyable (though somewhat questionably priced), I thought it would be worthwhile sharing my thoughts on the blog.
So named because of a carved Oak statue that once crowned the archway leading to the Liberties. It has long since disappeared, how and why no-one knows.
Bottled at 46%, Oak Devil is a blend of Malt and Grain Whiskies aged for three years in ex-bourbon casks. Retails around £35.
Smell: Caramel and honey. Vanilla. Burnt toast. Cereal and oatcakes. Fruity top notes – cherry and raspberry.
Taste: Honey again. Caramel. Berries / forest fruits. Buttery bourbon. Flour and grain husks.
Value for Money: Good character at an affordable price. Kudos for the higher bottling strength.
A decent introduction to the range that falls comfortably within the reach of the everyday whisk(e)y drinker. Tasty and affordable is always a satisfying combination.
Named after a street next to Christ Church Cathedral, an area that bustled with the high-born and pious by day, yet transformed into a den of iniquity by night, full of raucous taverns and unsavoury behaviour.
Aged for 10 years – first in bourbon barrels then finished in Oloroso sherry casks before bottling at 46% and retailing for £50.
Smell: Nutty… with subtle sherry influence. Orange zest. Vanilla cream and cinnamon. A touch of oak and a little dash of pepper.
Taste: Lots of flavour going on here. Caramel, fudge and raisin. Dark chocolate. Pepper, cinnamon and other oaky spices. Almond marzipan and chocolate orange.
Value for Money: Sensibly priced and comes with a guarantee of minimum age as well as the added boost to flavour and texture that comes with being un-chill-filtered.
I really enjoyed this one. It successfully meets the sweet spot between great flavour and affordability. Something which sadly can’t be said for the next two offerings…
Named after an unmarked lane between Bow Street and St James Street in Dublin. Many Men, Women and even Children were said to have lost their lives there dating back to the 1600’s.
The whiskey is a 13 year old, matured first in bourbon before being given an unusual finish in Hungarian Tokaj wine casks. Bottled at 46% and retails at £112.
Smell: Lots of chocolate and cocoa. Coffee. Dunnage warehouses. Vanilla. Apple, pineapple and grapes with a healthy backbone of oak.
Taste: Silky caramel & toffee. Chocolate orange. Ginger and cinnamon. Pineapple and white grapes – a definite wine influence. Butterscotch before a pleasant dry finish.
Value for Money: There’s a helluva jump in price between the 10 year old Copper Alley and the 13 year old Murder Lane that I’m struggling to justify. It’s a pleasantly unique dram thanks to its finish in some interesting wine casks but the price is a real sticking point.
Fascinating stuff but the price will put the average sipper off – and understandably so.
Named after the legendary drinking dens which were said to fill the crypts under Christ Church Cathedral. Each crypt had a keeper who had to be paid to gain access.
Keeper’s Coin is aged for 16 years in first-fill bourbon barrels before finishing in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. Bottled at 46% and retailing at a rather eye watering price of £235
Smell: Rum & raisin. Ginger. Buttered fruit loaf. Vanilla. Salted caramel and fudge. The Pedro Ximenez influence is there but relatively subtle.
Taste: There’s the PX! Treacle. Prunes. Maple syrup. Buttered rum. Toffee and vanilla. Orange. Pleasantly warming oaky spice at the finish. Wonderfully well balanced.
Value for Money: An excellent dram that’s sadly out of the reach of all but the wealthiest of drinkers due to a rather silly price. Rather criminal from a distillery so supposedly proud of its place in the historic working class area of the Liberties.
Great dram. Stupid price.
*You can buy the whiskies reviewed in this article from Master of Malt.
Buy Oak Devil here
Buy Copper Alley here
Buy Murder Lane here
Buy Keeper’s Coin here
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For more on Dublin Liberties Distillery and their whiskey, visit here.