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Whisky Reviews

Silkie Irish Whiskey Full Range: Legendary, Dark & Midnight

 

On the rugged northwest coast of Ireland, in County Donegal, where wind howls across windswept cliffs, silkies – Irish mythical creatures said to transform from seals to humans – weave their way through local legends. Sliabh Liag Distillers arrived on the scene in 2016, part of a new wave of Irish distillers dedicated to bringing whiskey production back to Donegal and reviving the character of Donegal whiskeys. Its core product, Silkie Whisky has been garnering deserved attention at competitions and Irish whiskey lovers. Most recently, the UK's The Independent newspaper even crowned their original blend the best Irish Whiskey of 2024.

 

 

Historically, Donegal boasted a thriving whiskey industry, with numerous distilleries operating throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. However, due to factors like the Great Famine of the 1840s and changes in consumer preferences, the industry went into decline in the early 20th century along with the rest of the Irish whiskey industry. Now, Silkie Whiskey is on a mission to revive that lost tradition, aiming to recreate the signature character of Donegal whiskeys from centuries past.

 

Sliabh Liag Distillers' new Ardara Distillery.

 

True to the Irish tradition, these whiskeys adhere to the famous Irish whiskey practices like triple distillation and the use of unmalted barley. But, while Irish whiskey is typically unpeated, County Donegal has a rich history of peat harvesting, with bogs that have been used for fuel and other purposes for centuries. It's therefore believed that the whiskey produced in Donegal historically most likely incorporated peat smoke into the flavour profile. Silkie Whiskey aims to recreate that signature Donegal whiskey character. 

 

 

For Singaporean whiskey drinkers, spirits retailer First Pour Pte Ltd has recently brought Silkie Irish Whiskey to our shores! We'll be delving into the entire Legendary range of Silkie Irish Whiskey and review all 3 core editions: Silkie Original, Silkie Dark, and Silkie Midnight. Each of these bottlings are technically blended Irish whiskey made from a combination of double or triple distilled single malts, some peated and others not, along with grain whiskey. The Original has the slightest hint of peat while the Midnight is the most heavily peated of the range.

 

 

Let's give them a taste.

The Legendary Silkie Irish Whiskey (Original), 46% ABV – Review

 

Nose: There's a pleasant grain-forward character with a burst of esters reminiscent of apple juice and caramel apples. More soft barley and grain notes weave through with hints of white flowers and a touch of grapefruit bitterness, and even a subtle note of beer hops.

Palate: Surprisingly luscious and welcoming. It's got a really clean entry and a balance of toasted grains, barley sweetness and oatmeal cookies. Yellow fruits open up, with a hint of banana and a lot of creaminess. Baking spices like anise and cardamom also quickly come into play.

Finish: Clean and long, with lingering caramel, vanilla, warming spices, and a touch of dry oak that emerges. Right at the end there is just a subtle whisper of peat.

 

My Thoughts:

This is a very vibrant and grain-driven take on Irish whiskey. The estery profile is very typical of the style, but the overall maltiness and spiced complexity definitely makes this stand out. You could tell that the spirit is still quite youthful, but the flavourful payoff is very rewarding and it surpasses my expectations for a lightly peated Irish whiskey. I really enjoy this one neat and can definitely see myself reaching for it often. In fact I enjoy it so much I wouldn't want to mask its character in a highball.

My Rating: 7.5/10 

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.

The Legendary Dark Silkie Irish Whiskey (Slightly Peated), 46% ABV – Review

 

Nose: Opens with pleasantly sweet notes of roasted malt and rich chocolate milk. Distinct toasted grains and caramel sweetness follow, along with a warm, spiced undercurrent. There's a touch of buttery richness and a very subtle fresh cut grass herbaceous note. The youth of the spirit is detectable in the heat, but the richness makes this very pleasant and enjoyable.

Palate: This feels thicker and more velvety. Upfront, tons of warm baking spices like cinnamon, anise, and pepper, balanced by bright appley notes, honey, vanilla, and a hint of burnt caramel. The smokiness is subtle, blending seamlessly with the sweetness to give me a lovely milk chocolate impression.

Finish: The finish gives me lots of drying oakiness and lingering sweet vanilla. The warm spices continue to persist and leaves a pleasant warmth at the back of the throat.

 

My Thoughts:

This blend includes peated malt, but the smokiness in this expression is much less prominent than I anticipated, making for a very approachable and richly textured whiskey. It's clear that care has been taken to make the smokiness very approachable. Peatheads probably wouldn't notice it, while new drinkers would notice the smokiness but find it at a very comfortable level.

This offers a delightful and inviting exploration of peat's role in Irish whiskey. It showcases peat's ability to add complexity and richness (think chocolate and tobacco aromatics) without overwhelming the other flavour elements.

It's also a little less spicy than the Original.

My Rating: 7/10

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.

The Legendary Midnight Silkie Irish Whiskey (Peated), 46% ABV – Review

 

Nose: Also very grain forward. A wave of toasted malt hits along with creamy vanilla and banana sweetness. There's a distinct milk coffee note, layered with honey and then some more heavily toasted granola. Subtle apple sweetness stays in the background.

Palate: The texture is immediately noticeable – it's the thickest, creamiest of the three Silkie expressions. Every elegantly it coats the mouth while flavours unfold gradually - it's the same usual suspects but a notch more toasted: toasted malt, apple and pear juice, and a lovely note of butter on toasted brioche. Sweet peat complements the richness beautifully.

Finish: Lighter than expected, with soft vanilla, gentle tobacco notes, chocolate and a touch of dry oak. A bit salty - kinda reminds me of sea salt dark chocolate.

 

My Thoughts:

This Midnight Silkie is another excellent offering. The texture is remarkable and the flavours are elegantly married. The single malts used are also clearly very high quality. 

This isn't a heavily peated expression either. While the peatiness is present, still, it doesn't dominate, instead blending beautifully with the rich roasted malt character that gives me some coffee nuances.

My Rating: 7.5/10 

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.

 

Overall Thoughts 

Colour me impressed. These Silkie whiskeys are packing some serious quality, especially considering the brand's young age. There's something special about their malt – it has this expressive grain character that really shines through, even with the soft peat playing around. They've definitely carved out a signature style in the Irish whiskey scene. This is highly underrated stuff. 

These are really approachable and not challenging to get into, and yet they aren't your "sit back and relax" kind of sippers. There are a lot of subtleties and nuances to pick out if you know where to find them, which makes them even more interesting. If they ever put out a single malt expression, I'd be first in line to try it. These folks know how to make a flavourful spirit. 

Based in Singapore and wanna try them for yourself? Head over to the official First Pour website to get your hands on a bottle or three!

@CharsiuCharlie