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Donegal based distiller and former midwife Moira Doherty has switched gears in her business to join the national effort to fight COVID-19.

Sliabh Liag Distillers in Carrick, owned by husband and wife James and Moira Doherty, normally produces award-winning gin, whiskey and vodka.

But the health crisis has inspired them to use their equipment to make effective hand sanitiser at 70% alcohol, enriched with local seaweed extracts for their skin conditioning properties.

They donating 1,000 litres to Donegal’s hospitals, essential services and front-line staff and offering the remainder for sale to the public online.

Moira said they have been delighted to make the switch:

“We are all in these uncertain times together and as a former midwife, I’m delighted to be able to do our bit for our front-line staff and health-care workers, to help protect them as they save lives.”

Normal production has been scaled back for the new unprecedented production of sanitisers with a local twist.

Moira said: “Hand sanitiser is essential for our health service, but it must be made of a minimum 60% alcohol to be effective. We realised we are in a unique position to help our local services and community here in Donegal and we’re donating 1,000 litres to Donegal’s essential services.

“We have been working with Rosaria at Algaran Teoranta in Glencolmcille, utilising her extensive knowledge to create an effective sanitiser at 70% alcohol, enriched with local seaweeds to make it kinder to the skin.

“To meet the public demand, it’s essential that hand sanitiser is available and the fact that we can produce it locally will help mitigate against any supply chain issues that may arise down the line. Donegal County Council and the Revenue have been supportive of this project from the outset,” she said.

Meanwhile, in spite of the global pandemic, the directors at Sliabh Liag Distillers are pressing ahead with plans for the new distillery in Ardara.

“It is unlikely we will be open this year with the restrictions that are currently in place,” said Managing Director, James Doherty, “but we have commenced work on the site and remain resolute that, as soon as possible, we will build the whiskey distillery and get into scale production of Irish Whiskey in Ardara.

“Earlier in the year, we launched our Seanchaí Cask programme where people can purchase the first casks from the distillery and it has been particularly rewarding to welcome to the family the first of our 600 Seanchaí Cask Owners. They are helping us build the distillery and are a key part of the history and success of the company.”

Based in west-Donegal, on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, Sliabh Liag Distillers continues its innovation drive and has released Dark Silkie, a dry smoky expression of the acclaimed Silkie Irish Whiskey and An Dúlamán Santa Ana Armada Strength Gin.

Shortly after its release, An Dúlamán Santa Ana Armada Strength Gin was awarded silver in the Navy Gin category of the World Gin Awards, while Moira was also shortlisted for Distiller of the Year.

Moira says it is an honour to be recognised at an international level: “It’s fantastic to be recognised among some of the best gin brands in the world. Our An Dúlamán Santa Ana Armada Strength Gin has a really rich story, with a strong connection to Donegal, so we’re delighted to be sharing that with gin lovers around the world.”

The distillery’s other brands include The Legendary Silkie Irish Whiskey, An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin and Assaranca Vodka, which was released in 2019. Sliabh Liag Distillers is committed to reclaiming the distilling heritage of Donegal and plans to release The Sliabh Liag Donegal Single Malt Irish Whiskey and Donegal Pot Still Irish Whiskey when it reaches maturation.

To buy sanitiser visit: www.sliabhliagdistillers.com/shop