Irish Whiskey’s Past Meets Present with Limavady

Limavady is one of Ireland’s more recent whiskey releases to reach American shores, but the name is not entirely new to the Irish whiskey world. Its history reaches back to the 18th century and the Northern Ireland town of Limavady, whose long-vanished distillery produced whiskey more than two centuries ago.

Limavady’s owner, Darryl McNally, is an Irish whiskey veteran who worked at Bushmills for nearly 17 years before moving to Dublin Liberties Distillery in 2017. This new venture is something of a family affair for McNally: he can trace his ancestry back to the original distillery’s owners, and Limavady is his hometown. Knowing the history, “Limavady kept calling,” says McNally. “So I said, let’s grab this with both hands. My brother—who was also a distiller at Bushmills—left as well to come into the family Limavady.”

Matured in bourbon barrels and finished in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks, Limavady’s liquid is sourced from an undisclosed Irish distillery. While there are other PX-matured or PX-finished Irish whiskeys in the Irish whiskey arena—such as Redbreast’s PX Edition, the Whistler PX I Love You, and Egan’s Fortitude—Limavady is fairly unique to Irish whiskey because it’s a single barrel expression. While single barrel releases are plentiful in American whiskey, that’s not the case in Ireland. Limavady aims to show what single barrels of Irish single malt can be. “We were sort of ticking boxes that hadn’t really been done before,” said McNally. “That, to me, was just something special—and something that I’d had in my head for a long number of years.”

Limavady’s PX casks come from the same source used by Redbreast, and the initial maturation is all in first-fill bourbon casks. “You’re getting four, four and a half years of that nice vanilla spiciness on the tongue,” McNally says of the bourbon aging. “Then we put it into PX, which balances it out with dark fruits and summer fruits.” The PX finish is in two stages—the first lasting around three months, and the second slightly longer. Thus far, the results of McNally’s labor have been well received. Limavady Single Barrel, (Barrel 0040), which retails at $50, scored 91 points in Whisky Advocate’s Winter 2021 issue.

Limavady will remain a sourced brand for the near future, but McNally has grand plans for the longer term. Ultimately, he wants Limavady to have its own distillery. He calculates that when Limavady reaches sufficient scale—the initial release was around 7,200 cases, and he pegs 50,000 cases as the threshold—he and partner WhistlePig will look to break ground. The expectation is to reach that goal in about five years.

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