Sliabh Liag Distillers (pronounced "Sleeve League" and meaning "flagstone mountain") is in County Donegal (pronounced "Dun-ee-gall" or "Dun-uh-gall" depending on who you're talking to), the most northerly county in the Republic of Ireland. Donegal has a centuries-old rich history of distilling whiskey and poitin--much of it illicit but located far enough from more populated areas that the not exactly-sanctioned-distilling continued without much interference from the authorities.
Sliabh Liag operates a gin distillery in Carrick and is constructing a larger whiskey distillery in nearby Ardara. In the meantime it is sourcing its whiskey and blending it in Co. Donegal, the fruits of which are the Silkie and the Dark Silkie. In Donegal lore "silkies" are shapeshifting mermaids who come to shore, shed their sealskin coats, become very enchanting maidens, and then leave the men heartbroken as they return to the sea.
The Silkie is smooth and flavorful. It has just a hint of smoky peat, a pleasant bit of spice, a little honey, and goes down very easily. The Dark Silkie packs a lot of punch with a healthy amount of peat that is unexpected for a whiskey from Ireland. If you enjoy Scotch from Islay like Lagavulin or Laphroaig, the Dark Silkie will really appeal to you. And if you haven't, you'll be blown away by how different this one tastes from most other Irish whiskeys you've tried. It's a sign of what's to come from the Ardara Distillery when it opens in the next couple of years, promising even more peaty whiskeys that are fully distilled in County Donegal.
Both the Silkie and Dark Silkie are bottled at 46% ABV and retail for $35-45. The full Silkie lineup also includes the Red Silkie (finished in red wine casks), the Red Silkie Cask Strength (bottled at a whopping 63% ABV) & the newly released Dark Silkie Cask Strength (64.5% ABV!) that sold out within an hour of its debut.
UPDATE: The Dark Silkie was recently named The Best Blended Irish Whiskey at the San Francisco Spirits Competition.
The Silkie: 94 POINTS
The Dark Silkie: 95 POINTS
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