The Rebirth, The Re-launch, The Resurrection, whatever way you word it, it comes down to the fact that 71 years to the day (Tuesday 17th October 2017) a group of like-minded whiskey fans gathered for the return of the D.W.D. – Dublin Whiskey Distillery at its launch night in Dublin’s Fire Restaurant and Lounge on Dawson Street.
A 2 hour train journey for whiskey & food, couldn’t say no to that!
A little info about D.W.D. before we get properly started for context. I have to hold my hands up and admit that I had to do a little research on D.W.D. as I didn’t know much about them until recently.
Jones Road – D.W.D. Distillery, was founded in 1872 by a consortium of seven businessmen and run as a Limited company – unlike many of the bigger family run distilleries. It was one of the most modern of its time and claimed an 800,000 gallon distilling capacity annually, although they more than likely never reached this.
D.W.D. joined forces with two fellow Dublin distilleries, George Roe and William Jameson in 1891, which saw the formation of the Dublin Distillers Company Limited (DDC). However, despite forming a consortium together, each member of the DDC continued to produce their own Pot Still Whiskey which meant they were in direct competition. This would undoubtedly be a factor in their demise along with such things as, World War 1, Irish Independence, The American Prohibition, and the fact they ignored the profitability & efficiency of Coffey Stills and grain whiskey alongside a vast amount of other Irish Distillers. It seems that in 1926 Jones Rd – D.W.D ceased full time production but sporadically distilled until 1946. A whiskey from 1942, one of the last known, was bottled by the independent Scottish bottlers Cadenhead’s in the 1970’s.
To quote Lorcan Rossi – CEO D.W.D. – “The premature demise of D.W.D., founded in 1872, and broken up and sold off piecemeal in 1946, was described as “one of the greatest scandals that ever happened to this country”. At a time of renaissance in Irish whiskey, and having discovered the true story of D.W.D., it was a clear decision on our part to resurrect and redeem this iconic Irish brand”.
So how did the resurrection of D.W.D. come about? Well rewind the clock back to 2010 when Lorcan Rossi (The CEO of D.W.D) found himself in The Palace Bar with his brother gazing at a bottle of D.W.D. whiskey that he knew little about apart from the well-known mirrors with the D.W.D. logo that have pride of place in a large number of Irish watering holes. After asking the bar man a few questions about the whiskey, along with reading the book “The Lost Distilleries of Ireland” by Brian Townsend, the seed was planted of maybe one day owning a forgotten whiskey brand. This dream came to fruition in 2014 with the formation of a new independent Irish whiskey blender & bottler under the label of the Dublin Whiskey Distillery. It came with the backing of whiskey enthusiasts who boasted significant industry experience and also made securing long-term access to the best aged Irish Whiskey stocks possible.
Lorcan Rossi touched on the subject of opening a distillery during his speech saying – “At a time when distillery projects are being announced with increasing frequency, we feel it is wise to wait and consider the Irish distilling landscape as it evolves over the next few years before finalising our plans to build our own distillery, ideally on the northside of Dublin city”.
Mr Rossi was quoted by the Irish Independent back in 2014 saying “Owning a distillery is not a prerequisite for making a great whiskey,” adding that “casks and maturation play one of the most important roles”.
There is no doubt we would all love to see a new distillery opening in Dublin, but in a “few years” will it be to late? Possibly. You’ve got to remember these are business men at the end of the day. It would cost millions to build a distillery on the North Side of Dublin, and are you going to pump millions into a brand that’s just been “reborn” and no guarantee of succeeding? I want to see it succeed of course. I think it will be a case of launch the new D.W.D, see how it takes off, and then go from there. If everything works out, and it makes financial sense, then they’ll move forward on constructing a distillery… hopefully!
Onto the whiskey itself. D.W.D – Heritage is a small batch blend of malt & grain whiskeys, both double & triple-distilled, aged between 5 – 10 years, matured mainly in first-fill American oak Bourbon casks and bottled at 40% ABV with a price tag of around £51/€48.
The original D.W.D was a pure pot still with a guarantee of being 10 years old. Now it’s a blend, showing it’s definintely not trying to be a blatant copy for the sake of it. In fact, D.W.D have clearly stated that – “D.W.D. today is not a copy of the past: a reproduction for nostalgia’s sake. Since the distillery was auctioned off in 1946 the world has moved on and advances in the art of distilling cannot be ignored”.
My notes are from the 50cl sample bottle. I didn’t get a chance to make proper notes at the event, but I did manage to sink a glass or two.
Colour – Light Gold. No word on whether it contains the dreaded E150a colouring! (I have since sent an email off asking. No answer yet)
Nose – A soft caramel, vanilla & slightly dried raisins at first. Second nosing brings citrus fruits into the mix.
Taste – A warming feeling takes over on the palate, moving from creamy white chocolate (Melted Cadbury white buttons) to a hint of milky coffee. Holding it in the mouth longer also reveals the tender notes of caramel, vanilla & citrus.
Finish – Short & clean with not much fire into the belly, missing a burn as some would say. A word I try not to use much, but it’s “smooth”.
Master blender Richard Paterson of Whyte & Mackay was on hand with advice in the blending process, which no doubt explains why the final product is good stuff. I could see myself sipping away at this down the line but also use it as a useful tool for introducing reluctant folk who fear a so-called burn to the world of whiskey.
Truthfully I can’t see it becoming a massive player in the market just yet. From speaking to a few people they get the impression its very much “the same old story of another Irish whiskey entering the market”. I don’t think this impression will change until the range is expanded plus a distillery to help cement the name as a legitimate brand, I could be wrong of course. However I do think it will happily be found in a fair few whiskey cabinets as well as lining the back bars of Ireland and East Coast America for now. They will be competing in what has become an increasingly crowded market as the renaissance of the spirit here continues. I wish them well & wait to see whats in the pipeline.
D.W.D – Heritage is now available at The Celtic Whiskey Shop, L. Mulligan Whiskey Shop, The Loop Dublin Airport Shopping and other selected outlets & bars around Dublin. It will then roll out in due time to the United States as well as other key Irish Whiskey export markets.
Until next time folks, keep safe & keep drinking whisk(e)y.
Over & out.
Jamie. Whiskey JAC.
P.s. – Here are a few more photos from the launch –