Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Sliabh Liag. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
The Midnight Silkie Irish Whiskey is the final release in Sliabh Liag Distillery’s (pronounced ‘sleeve league’s) “Legendary Silkie Collection”. This sourced blend of five different Irish single malts (see the ‘Vital Stats’ section of this review for details) is meant to take “drinkers on a journey through Irish Whiskey, [with] each blend from the collection increasing in complexity and smokiness.”
Sliabh Liag Distillers is located in the small town of Ardara, in County Donegal, Ireland (upper northwest Ireland, near the border with Norther Ireland). This hamlet overlooks the ruggedly beautiful Loughros More Bay, that itself opens into the Atlantic Ocean. This independent distiller was Donegal’s first legal distillery in 175 years, and only recently made its American debut with the Legendary Collection. Immediately preceding the whiskey’s debut, it won double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Not a bad calling card to North America’s significant consumer market.
Location and pedigree aside, a statement from the distillery’s founder, James Doherty helps define the heart of the spirit, “Our smokiest whiskey yet really harks back to a pre-prohibition time when Donegal’s characteristic style was famed for warming, earthy flavours. Just one sniff has me transported right back to my grandparents’ front room and the rich smells of the peat fire, pipe tobacco and fresh baking combining lusciously.”
The distillery makes a point to call out the fact this release is distinctly different from the lighter style of many Irish whiskeys, especially those released in the United States. In fact, a driving reason for the creation was to honor “Donegal’s nearly forgotten distilling style” and raise, first the perception and then the appreciation, of a smoky Irish whiskey.
Tasting Notes: The Midnight Silkie Irish Whiskey
Vital Stats: No age statement. 92 Proof, 46% ABV. Mash bill: single malt triple distilled sherry & virgin – 30%; single malt triple distilled imperial stout – 20%; single malt triple distilled (peated 55ppm) bourbon – 35%; single malt triple distilled Oloroso – 5%; single malt triple distilled red wine – 10%. The sourced blend is then finished in virgin oak and imperial stout casks. 750ML. SRP: $39.99-$49.99
Appearance: Gold and butterscotch.
Nose: Sweet pipe smoke followed by a pleasant earthy richness, and a surprising note of slow cooked roast. The nose is the perfect complement to the onset (finally) of the cool fall nip in the air.
Palate: An initial warm and creamy sweetness paired with a peat smoke that doesn’t wallop your tastebuds. For a lower proof blend, there was a mid-mouth brightness to the ethanol (grain alcohol) that I would have pegged at a higher ABV had I not already known. The finish lingers with an agreeable continuation of the smokiness, dried fruit and light summer honey.
Whiskey Review: The Midnight Silkie Irish Whiskey
Although Sliabh Liag calls this release their “smokiest” whiskey, it isn’t so heavily peated that it will turn off imbibers open to trying this style. In fact, this Silkie would be good to keep in your cabinet as an approachable smoky offering to guests. With the cool, fall nip in the air, I’m gladly adding this sipper to my collection.
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Devon Lyon has spent the past two decades producing video content as well as writing copy and scripts for clients around the globe. But no matter how strong his natural wanderlust, it’s the Pacific Northwest he calls home. Whether it’s the growing local craft spirit scene, world-class wines, or a...