James Doherty: A Return to Donegal Distilling

September 10, 2020


Artist’s Impression of the New Ardara Distillery


It’s been 175 years since legal distilling has happened in Ireland’s North Western-most county of Donegal. That changed with the establishment of Sliabh Liag Distillers – founded by husband and wife team James and Moira Doherty who uprooted their family from Hong Kong to pursue a passion and continue a family tradition.

Inspired by James’ grandfather’s old poteen and whiskey recipes that were given to him by his grandmother, the duo have set about not just building a distillery, but building two distilleries, and more importantly building a community, a business and an industry that can support an area of Ireland that unjustly doesn’t get the economic attention or investment that perhaps it should.

Their whiskeys – The Legendary Silkie and The Legendary Dark Silkie are getting rave reviews and I was curious to learn more about the decisions that resulted in these whiskeys as well as learn about their new Irish whiskey distillery.

James was kind enough to give up his time in the middle of a busy bottling period to share their story, their beliefs about Irish whiskey and how they intend to do things very differently with the whiskey they’ll produce. I believe that their approach, experience and perspectives will ensure that us as consumers will get to enjoy very special whiskeys in the years to come.


Current whiskey lineup from Sliabh Liag Distillers



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