Ever since 1899, when Tom MacDonnell opened a pub-come-leather shop opposite the church in Dingle, 47 Green Street has exuded a magnetic pull on those with a fondness for good times and great spirits. For generations the Mac Donnell's have doled out pints of the black stuff, along with the staples – Paddy, Powers & Jameson. It was in November 2012 that Tom’s great-grandson, Finn, along with Peter White, kicked off a passion project that would put Dick Mack's firmly on the whiskey-lovers map. Peter, a visitor to Dingle with a fondness for whiskey, noticed that the only whiskey of real note was, in fact, a whisky - a lone Laphroig sitting unopened on the shelves. This sparked a discussion, and upon Peter's next visit he added bottles of Irishman 12 and a Green Spot to the shelf. Since then, it’s grown from that single bottle of Scotch to over 250 whiskeys from around the world – with a focus on Irish spirit.
Those who have visited Dick Macks will no doubt have stood at the front bar, gazing open-mouthed at the wall of bottles that stands in front of you. The main space, bar on one side, leather workshop on the other, is flanked by 2 snugs.
Some days you'll find youself sharing the front bar with a local man making leather belts, keyrings and other bespoke good, others you'll be entertained by one of countless local musicians. And others you'll simply sit back and enjoy the company of locals and tourists alike, soaking up the atmosphere and taking in their surroundings - in most cases, quite literally!
Off this main space, you'll wander through a maze of rooms and hideaways, featuring old fireplaces, warming stoves and nooks and crannies where an impromptu sing-song or story is likely to spring to life at any second. The rooms to the left were once home to the Mac Donnell family, before the bar expanded in the 1980s. These rooms have remained relatively untouched since its first opening, adding even more to its charm and character.
The back of the pub has a yard that's home to a brew-house, two food trucks - "Chewy" and "the Beast" who serve up fresh burgers and wood-fired pizza respectively - as well as picnic benches, numerous old barrels and stools, meaning you can enjoy your pint and your grub whilst soaking up the sun.
In fact on a fine day, a pint of Coffee Stout and a bag of Taytos in Dick Mack's yard is my idea of paradise!
It's not only the whiskey inventory that's growing, so too are Dick Mack's awards. It was voted both Munster Whiskey Pub of the Year and overall Irish Whiskey Pub of the Year in 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2018. It's inclusion in Heidi Donelan's Ireland whiskey trail helped boost their credentials even further and recognised the great work done by the lads to fly the flag for Irish whiskey.
It’s not all whiskey though - far from it. In 2014 the team had the idea to open their own brewery in Dick Mack's yard. After a couple of years of planning, "figuring it out as they went" according to Finn, they finally fired up the fermenters in October 2017. The setting is perfect really - with the publess than 25 meters from the front of the brew house, with and a natural well less than 25m behind it. Their beer, consisting of a core range of 4 beers, is stocked in 31 pubs in the town.
The coffee stout, brewed in collaboration with "Bean in Dingle" coffee house, just 3 doors up the hill, is a personal favourite of mine. Made using Irish barley and Belgian chocolate malt, drip-filtered cold brew is added to the fermenter a week before kegging. This cold-brew is made from freshly brewed cold-filtered coffee, which has been roasted on-site in Bean in Dingle using medium roast Arabica beans. It was this beer that formed the basis of the Walsh + Dick Macks Coffee Finished release - more on that here.
They also play with imperial stouts, ageing the beer in barrels they’ve acquired through their connections in the whiskey industry. When I last visited I sampled a half of their Imperial Stout aged in an Olorosso sherry cask. Beautiful drop, but at 9% you have to exercise caution – and leave room to start making your way through the whiskey inventory! Unbeknownst to me, I supped my stout using the very barrel it had spent 9 months maturing in as a table. That's no longer available, but next up is a Pedro Ximinez finished Imperial, so if you’re in the area any time soon you know where to go.
You'll be very interested to learn that Dick Mack's will be releasing their own whiskey in the coming months. Casks have already been procured from some of Ireland’s top distilleries, including Echlinville, Royal Oak, Dingle and Great Northern, as well as a couple from Islay and Arran. These will eventually mature on-site in Dick Mack's yard. First up will be a Single Malt from Dingle, aged in Florio Marsala casks, expected in May/June next year. These releases will no doubt be added to the growing library of whiskey on offer, but for now there's more than enough to satisfy even the most voracious whiskey drinkers.
Here's a closer look at what's on offer... see if you can spot the Irish Whiskey Society bottlings...