Interview: Darryl McNally, Founder of Limavady Single Barrel Whiskey

A category defining Irish whiskey style from a resurrected brand

One of the most awarded figures in Irish whiskey, Darryl McNally, has spent roughly three decades in the spirits industry. After years working his way up the ranks of renowned whiskey producers, McNally ventured home to Limavady, in Northern Ireland’s Roe Valley, where he began to resurrect the coastal town’s historic distillery, Limavady, originally founded in 1750 and shuttered in 1910. Today, McNally—as brand founder and whiskey distiller—stewards Limavady into the future by way of a highly awarded super-premium craft whiskey. The rich and flavorful Limavady Single Barrel Single Malt pioneers a prestigious new category of Irish whiskey—and anyone with a preference for luscious, creamy liquids with nut and stone fruit notes and a heart of spice will appreciate it. McNally took time to explain to COOL HUNTING his motivation behind the revival and his dreams for the exceptionally small-batch whiskey brand.

Why bring Limavady back instead of launch something new? What appealed to you about the heritage? And, as you are a descendant of an 18th Century operator of the brand’s distillery, why did you want to take up the mantle?

Since the day I was born in Limavady I have dreamed of bringing the brand back to life, it haunted me in my sleep—in a good way. I have worked across the industry in every facet and have been fortunate to experience all that the world of Irish whiskey has to offer from creating award-winning brands and opening distilleries across Ireland and then sharing them with the world. However, there was one that always nagged at me, Limavady. Keep in mind, at one time, Limavady was producing 1.2 million liters annually! People know it very well in this part of the world. We like to say that every bottle produced there was a postcard from the town to whiskey drinkers around the world.

Each day I woke up it was right in front of me, literally, the original distillery site from 1750 is in my backyard. In a way, I had no choice but to find a way to revitalize it. Limavady is where I am from, and the brand history runs through me. I am honored to bring it to a new generation of drinkers and let’s just say that the folks around town give me a few more pats on the back than they used to!

Let’s discuss the already award-winning flavor profile. What can consumers expect here? And how were those flavors achieved?

We have been very lucky to win some of the top awards across the drinks space, feeling very good about the feedback received so far, we can’t wait to get it out there to more markets across the world. Limavady is small batch, 100% malted Irish barley, triple distilled in copper pot stills and aged in ex-bourbon barrels, finished in Pedro Ximinez Sherry casks. It has a ton of flavor, absolutely bursting with energy. Drink it on the rocks, chilled neat or try it in a cocktail, works all ways…just make sure you’re enjoying Limavady with friends and family. That’s what it is all about. This is a whiskey that brings people together.

Can you further explain what single barrel means and why that’s important?

This style comes from an individual barrel versus blending from different barrels. It is important because the longer the whiskey ages in a single barrel, the more flavors it gets from that one barrel, making it that much more robust of a whiskey. I believe in the singularity of Irish whiskey, in particular Irish malt. And that each individual barrel is high enough quality to showcase on its own. The label on every bottle will highlight what barrel every bottle can be traced back to.

As master distiller, what’s your mission with the brand? What’s your vision for the brand? And what do you hope for?

Simply put, we want as many people on earth to experience Limavady as humanly possible. Our mission is to continue to grow the brand across all major continents. The vision is simple: to bring Irish drinkers something they’ve never seen from the category. Limavady has quite a story to tell, and I look forward to sharing it around the world. I hope Limavady serves as a time machine to where Irish whiskey has been and a vision into the future of what the Irish whiskey category will be.

Can you explain the partnership with WhistlePig Whiskey and what it means for Limavady?

WhistlePig manages the bottling and distribution of the whiskey under my direction, and they are helping Limavady create the Single Barrel Irish category, much the same way that WhistlePig has done with aged and experimental rye. I’m directly managing the production and innovation and bring the Limavady story and spirit to life. We are the dream team.

WhistlePig’s team visited me in Limavady and experienced the historic distillery grounds, but we are looking to the future more than the past. Irish whiskey is a category that needs to push the boundaries and break through stereotypes. Irish Single Malt, and moreover Single Barrel, deserves the same recognition as both single malt scotch and craft American whiskey.

Images courtesy of Limavady