A new whiskey and a new tourist experience has been carefully crafted with great success at the Croithlí Distillery.

I visited this week for a tour and tasting, and have to say I’d highly recommend it for locals and visitors alike.

Dorothy McGinley, Meabh McMenamin, Thomas McIntrye and Catherine Greene at the Croithlí Distillery

The distillery has been open just four weeks, and already there are visitors from around the world journeying beyond the usual stop of Glenveagh to get a taste of what the Rosses has to offer.

The Distillery has a public bar and cafe where you can sample the three whiskeys of the Coillín Darrach series, as well as cocktails and coffees. From here, you can check in for the tours which take you into the heart of the distillery. You don’t have to be a whiskey enthusiast to find the tour fascinating, because it’s every bit a celebration of West Donegal as it is our distilling heritage.

Trying the whiskey-based Espresso Martini

Croithlí is the first successfully (and legally) distilled whiskey in Donegal for more than 180 years. 

With whiskey jumping back into popularity, the revival of the craft was good timing for the three founders – Joe Devenney from Annagry, Conor McMenamin from Ballybofey and Kieran Davis from Letterkenny. To house their passion project, the three business pals revived an iconic building of the Gaeltacht. Built in 1901, the building was home to the former Crolly Dolls factory and before that, a Donegal carpets factory. 

When you enter today, it’s easy to visualise the past lives of the place. Original features, collectors’ items, and old photos are a treat for anyone who has a connection to the area.

The 1.5hr tour begins with a short film which takes you back in time to Donegal’s distilling past. 

The video room contains nods to the building’s past lives- Crolly Dolls and Donegal Carpets

Our guide Dorothy McGinley had so many engaging stories to tell throughout as we learned about the makings of whiskey and the founders’ quest to create Donegal’s finest Irish whiskey.

The distillery may be small in scale, but the warehouse and the distillery floor were very impressive. Visitors get to step into the working area, and it’s easy to appreciate the beauty of the ex-cognac copper pot stills with Dorothy’s explanations of how the magic happens. The smells of the ‘angel’s share’ are enough to conjure your thirst for a drop, and the tour ends with a tasting of one Croithlí whiskey (or three if you opt for the Grogán tour).

Croithlí Distillery uses direct fired pot stills in the double distillation, sourced in the Cognac region and refurbished to produce whiskey
The storehouse

I’m not a whiskey drinker, but Thomas McIntrye was there to help us figure out the flavours and appreciate that it doesn’t matter ‘how’ you drink your whiskey, it’s the enjoyment that matters.

Tasting time
You can pick up a bottle from the Coillín Darrach series at the gift shop

The Crolly Distillery is a great addition to Donegal’s tourism offerings. The detail and quality of the visitor centre alone is worth a visit, and if you’re a whiskey connoisseur, there’s no doubt you’ll be in good spirits in these stunning surroundings.

Tours available daily from 11am until 5pm (€19 – €27 pp)

Booking advised on www.thecrollydistillery.com

Or call 07495 62376