Whether you’re a rose or a rover, you can embrace your wild Irish side with a glass (or a few) from Glendalough Distillery. The small-batch spirit-makers from across the Atlantic have taken on the beverage tradition of the region with characteristic Emerald Isle independence. The five founding friends settled into coastside County Wicklow to reinvigorate the craft of Irish liquor steeped in the lore of the land.
The city of Glendalough offers a rich history, both spiritual and spirited. Glendalough gets its name from its two glacially-formed lakes and gets its fame from the medieval monastic settlement of St. Kevin. The high-born Irish ascetic lived as a hermit for seven years in the desolate valley of two lakes, connecting with the Celtic land and wildlife. In fact, according to legend, a blackbird once mistook his hand (open in prayer) for a nest. St. Kevin kept his arm outstretched and still until the eggs had hatched and the blackbirds departed. An image of the saint – with bird in tow – graces the front of each Glendalough Distillery bottle, calling to mind the dedicated monk and the origins of Irish distilling.
The roots of liquor-making started in monastic settlements like St. Kevin’s with pre-cursors to modern-day whiskey. Glendalough Distillery takes up the cross, so to speak, and continues the course of craft distilling from the bottoms up. They debuted with whiskey’s great-grandfather, poitin, and have since expanded the portfolio to include gin, and single-malt and double-barrel whiskies. The brown liquors are “born of a wild Irish streak,” and are crafted to go against the grain with one-of-a-kind flavor says co-founder and US brand manager Dónal O’Gallachóir. The 7 year single malt whiskey pays homage to St. Kevin’s seven years in the wilderness (and the seven churches of Glendalough) with cinnamon and citrus on the palate while the 13 year comes across with creamy vanilla in the forefront. The double-barrel does time in American oak bourbon barrels (for deep caramel notes) before it’s finished in Spanish sherry casks (for light, fruit tastes) and the final sipper brings fresh life to the Irish whiskey category.
You don’t have to head to the wilds for a taste of Glendalough Distillery. The line of lakeside liquors has a home at local watering holes like backbar, Park, Saloon and more. Or, you can bring home a bottle and mix up something spirited, like the In the Navy (below), courtesy of Aaron Hayden of Peruke & Periwig in Dublin. Sláinte.
In the Navy, by Aaron Hayden
40ml Glendalough Double Barrel
30ml Grapefruit Juice
20ml Lemon juice
2 drops peychaud bitters
Shake and strain into a rocks glass, garnish with grapefruit and mint sprig. Drink.