Interview: Darryl McNally | The Umbrella Project

Interview: Darryl McNally

Darryl McNally was recently appointed as Master Distiller of Quintessential Brands’ The Dubliner Irish Whiskey and The Dublin Liberties.

We managed to sit down for a quick 5 minutes with him in The Sun Tavern…




How did you get into distillation?

Well lucky I guess eh? So, I started working for Bushmills Distillery about 1998 and I got into the packaging side of things. Then I guess it became a hobby and then you get paid for your hobby!

…I was taking more than most, I was like a child in a candy shop and got bitten by the bug then

So I think the realisation was that on one Thursday there was 67 different types of Irish Whiskey sitting around the lab and everyone was taking small tastes of them, and I was taking more than most, I was like a child in a candy shop and got bitten by the bug then.

Being Irish… Irish Whiskey… It just became special. I then worked for Bushmills for 17 years before then moving to other areas of Irish Whiskey, so it’s been good.

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Cupa Tay – Lapsang tea, Dubliner Irish Whiskey Honeycomb & Bitters


How is the new distillery coming along?

The new distillery is coming along really well. We have the correct site now in Dublin city very close to all the visitors that come to visit Dublin. It is quite ‘boutique-ey’, but we are going to have quite a bit of volume coming out of it.

So its about thirty thousand square feet, which is probably much larger than most of the larger pubs in London and it will be a working distillery as well as bringing visitors in from Dublin City. It is in the area known as the ‘Liberties’, so it’s the area that all the beers and the whiskies and all the brothels were at over a number of years. So It’s quite dark and is going to be a really good project.

…I think with the name of ‘The Dubliner’ and the Dublin Liberties behind you, it’ll sell, it’ll sell

At the minute, I pretty much have the process side designed in order to make a good spirit and then a good Whiskey. I have a lot of good suppliers that supply good quality bourbon casks, sherry casks and port casks. So we want to do something innovative, make the normal blended whiskies but also want to have some aged malts as we progress and I think with the name of ‘The Dubliner’ and the Dublin Liberties behind you, it’ll sell, it’ll sell.

The product is very, very special so those two together and a new distillery has a bit of providence and a good bid for the future.

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Coffey No Craic – Dubliner Irish Whiskey, Escobac & Peach bitters


So is the distillery in the ‘Golden Triangle’ then?

It is in the triangle. It’s right down near Christ Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, walking distance from the city centre. The whole area is getting a lot of up-lift and spend, a lot of new offices and houses being built and a few new distilleries too! So it has to be good!


How is The Dubliner Whiskey doing since it’s release last year?

Yeah, the Dubliner has only been around for a year, but I think it’s a good introduction to whiskey. The Dubliner as a blended whiskey is very special. I think a lot of people can relate to it, when the younger generation think about whiskey they think about scotch and they think about the peaty-ness of it. But Dubliner is very easy, it doesn’t burn, it warms, like a warm Irish welcome. The Dubliner blend is such a nice introduction to Irish Whiskey when you drink it with ice, with a mixer, or when used as a cocktail base, it’s perfect.

You have Jameson who sell a lot of whiskey worldwide and you have Bushmills, I think these new blends and distilleries coming out can only help the Irish Whiskey market.

…The Dubliner is going to tick all the boxes everyday.

You look at whiskey from Scotland, which essentially 90 million cases or so, Irish whiskey is only around 7 million, so we have a lot of room to grow. In all the global markets now, people expect a nice quality whiskey and when they talk about Irish, The Dubliner is going to tick all the boxes everyday.


How do you think the Irish Whiskey category has developed in the last few years?

Well I have been in the industry for the last 17 or 18 years and have seen come on from a Scotch perspective, Irish whiskey is only a small amount, about 4% of the global whiskey market, but I think people are starting to like all things irish! As I say there are 7 million people in the whole of Ireland, but there is 70 million worldwide! People always feel welcomed by Irish people and relate to them, so I can only see a growth over the next five to ten years.

We believe that Irish Whiskey will grow to about 24 million cases, we’re sitting at 7 at the minute. We reckon that this will happen over the next 10 to 14 years. So you need a lot of Distilleries built and a lot of whiskey laid down to have the product there by 2030, and that is what we intend to do!

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The Old Divil – Liberties Irish Whiskey, Aperol, Orange, Lemon & Cherry bitters


Can you tell us what you offer in your current range?

So we have The Dubliner Irish Whiskey Bourbon cask, The Dubliner Irish Whiskey Honeycomb Liqueur, The Dubliner Irish Whiskey 10 Year Old and The Dubliner Liberties Oak Devil and another new Dublin Liberties coming out very soon.


What taste notes can you expect from The Dubliner?

Well, it’s a blended whiskey, malt and grain. There is quite a high proportion of creamy grain, which compliments the malt, so you have these lovely vanilla flavours coming through.

You don’t have any burn or any peaty-ness, you have a nice spicy, zesty finish with what I always say when I’m drinking The Dubliner, is that it’s almost a Christmas cake like malty-ness you get with a lovely creamy grain to coming over that, which balances it out nicely.


How do you like to drink it?

The way I like to drink it? I like to tip some out, over a few cubes of ice which just cools the whiskey down but don’t let the ice melt too much. All you need is a little bit of water to open up the whiskey. You can taste much better at 20% (abv) rather than 40%, so that little bit of water in there really gets your taste buds flowing and you can enjoy it with a few of your mates.


What do you think about Whiskey Wednesdays?

I think it’s great. You know the amount of people now in Dublin alone and in the whole of Ireland that are attending all these whiskey clubs and whiskey bars, there seems to be a real interest in the category now.

For the younger generation, it really opens them up to whiskey and changes the perception that only old men drink whiskey because your introducing whiskey to them in a format that they already have an interest in which is cocktails.


What do you think of The Sun Tavern then?

I think it’s cool, a really trendy bar. I’m just looking at the supply of Whiskey that you have on the shelf. It’s pretty impressive.

It’s nearly as impressive as the whiskey supply I have back home from picking them up over the years!




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