Step into the tasting room at Doire Distilling, and you’re likely to find two important elements related to the Irish heritage from which this Derry distillery takes its name: samples and stories.
And it’s an abundance of both of those things that sets this new Derry distillery apart.
Doire (pronounced “dwar-ay,”) comes from a sixth century old Irish word meaning “oak grove,” or “oak wood.” It’s also a sound-a-like for Doire’s adopted home along the main street running through this southern New Hampshire town.
“We wanted to put Derry on the map,” Co-Owner Andy Day says. “Doire is actually a town in Ireland, and the Irish actually settled the Nutfield (Derry) area. It all just kind of fit.”
Co-owners Day and Alana Wentworth — also co-owners of the Cask & Vine, which sits right next door — and Distiller/Consultant Bill Herlicka opened the doors to the distillery in August, and have spent much of their time since producing a variety of creative, tasty spirits. Among them: 01 — Doire’s first product — a 120 proof cane-based ‘moonshine’ with notes of vanilla, toffee, caramel and a notably smooth finish; Sugarshine, an 80 proof sipper with notes of vanilla, chocolate and a lightly sweet finish; Splinters — Doire’s Sugarshine infused with various woods, creating new complexity, aromas and mouthfeel; and a series of gins ranging from classic to contemporary botanical styles.
“We have a citrus-forward version,” Herlicka says. “We also have a more traditional herb blend with orris root and rosemary. We have a cucumber- mint spirit, which has become my second favorite.”
The beauty of the distillery’s range is that there’s something for every palate. “They’re all so different,” Wentworth says. “It’s always a case of, ‘what do you feel like having tonight?’ And there are so many options. Last night when we got home, I thought that the 01 on ice sounded perfect. At the same time, the gins are fun. They’re all really a lot of fun.”
The point of all of it, Herlicka says, is to produce spirits that can stand on their own. Aside from a splash of seltzer or a few ice cubes, fans are happy to sip without masking the character.
“We’ve made it in such a way that you can enjoy it by itself,” he says of the gin, in particular. “I think that’s part of what people like about it. They say, ‘wow, I don’t even know that I would mix anything with this.’ A lot of what we have is just meant to be enjoyed.”
That’s where the expert palate of Herlicka shows its prowess. With 20 years of brewing (he founded White Birch Brewing in Hooksett), and 10 years of distilling experience in his tool kit, he brings a wealth of knowledge — and a few recipes — to Doire.
“I can drink a beer and come up with a darn-near clone recipe,” he says. “But that’s just knowing your ingredients. So when we think about distilling, it’s the same fundamentals. When you know the still and how it’s going to express the flavors that are in the wash, you sit down and decide how we’re going to make it do what we want. For example, we do a series called Single Cut. It’s an esoteric fermentation — one pass through the still, cut and presented. It’s not intended to be a classic style. The first one was an Imperial Brown that was mash-hopped. So when we talk about it, people will say, ‘you mash hop this?’ I tell them, yes, I put all the cool-kid hops in there and we mash hop it and then we ferment it and when it comes through the still we have a dual experience. It smells like a gin but then when you drink it, especially on the rocks, you get these toffee and caramel and brown sugar notes that come out. It’s a really fascinating alcohol.”
It’s similar stories that bring life to the samples at Doire’s East Broadway Distillery and Tasting room. Visitors enter the bright, welcoming space and are greeted (very likely by Day, Wentworth or Herlicka) at a rustic yet comfortable sales counter that looks directly into the distillery itself — complete with a 125- gallon reflux still, three 300-gallon fermenters and a five barrel mash tun. A pair of inviting chairs stand at either end of the counter, providing a resting spot for guests and designated drivers.
“We have created a nice, comfortable place to sit while you’re waiting for others to experience the tasting,” Herlicka says. “A lot of folks will come here and then have dinner next door, so it’s a really nice way to come down and have a good time in Derry.”
From Celebrate Magazine.
11⁄2 East Broadway • Derry, NH (603) 965-3454