Around the start of June 2013 a distillers licence was granted to Echlinville Distillery, which is situated on the Echlinville estate in the small town of Kircubbin, County Down, Northern Ireland, and with this it became the first Northern Irish distillery to receive a licence for over 125 years.
It is this very distillery, under the owenership of Shane Braniff, a businessman from the local area, who is also responsible for bringing you the Feckin' Irish Whiskey brand, that has got it's hands on the "Dunville's" brand and they are intent on reviving the great memory of Dunville's by producing a top quality product to sit in it's bottles.
Echlinville itself has big ambitions for it's own spirit and a quick look on their site shows that they are producing single malt and pot still whiskey, which seem to be maturing in a variety of casks, and the first releases of this unique whiskey should be with us by 2016.
In the meantime though, and as seems the norm, we have these releases of Dunville's appearing, not only to seemingly get the money rolling in, but also for, in my opinion, another more honest reason. I get a genuine sense that Shane Braniff has a very real desire to get this once great brand back to where it belongs, not as a stop gap, until the distillery's own whiskey is released, but as a high quality product to stand proud in it's own right on the same shelves.
Whilst the ambition is there, and I wrote previously of my excitement of seeing the brand back in our off licences, there was, in my opinion, an initial let down with the first release of the Dunville's - Very Rare.
Not to dwell on it too much I shall simply say that I felt as though it was a rushed release with little substance and little care seemingly put into the finished product and it really showed when tasting.
A final point I also noted in the previous review was - "I fully understand the need to get the brand out there with this initial release but I feel if they are to release other bottlings, prior to their own spirit being matured, then, cost permitting, they should secure some matured whiskey that will really start to add a touch of quality to their brand."
Well, I must be clairvoyant.
Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to meet Shane Braniff where I received a bottle of what, apart from a slight change in labelling, is to be the next release of Dunville's - Very Rare and I have to say they are certainly going in the right direction.
This new release is a Irish malt whiskey that will be hitting the shops with an age statement of 10 years old. Obviously not from Echlinville itself, the spirit has been obtained from elsewhere but "finished" by Echlinville in their warehouses on the County Down coast.
The finish is in the form of PX casks in which the whiskey has been rounded off for about a year and the added quality doesn't stop there.
This new release also benefits from a higher bottling strength of 46% and has not been chill filtered. On speaking to Shane Braniff he is quick to point out that they do have a chill filtration unit on site, so to bottle this whiskey without the use of this facility is solely down to a desire to obtain that higher quality that the brand deserves.
I've included a picture of the label as it sits at the moment to give you an idea of how it will look when it hit's the shops.
As I mentioned there are a few last minute changes planned for the label, but once finalised the whiskey will be released with a price point of just under £50. Considering the first release was £29.99 I feel an extra £20 for the extra quality mentioned is a fair amount.
Whether the whiskey itself is worth £50 remains to be seen but on initial taste I can say that there is certainly a lot of potential and I look forward to really getting into the bottle with the hope of positively reporting back soon that Dunville's is now hitting the heights it should be.
Until next time,