Daniel O’Connell’s Kerry descendents and their Liberator whiskey

First in a series of Irish whiskeys from Wayward Irish Spirits in Killarney launched

Maurice O’Connell is a direct descendent of Daniel O’Connell, one of the greatest Irishmen of all. According to Maurice, the O’Connell family has a history going back to the 15th century of importing wines, spirits and other luxury goods from the continent to Kerry.

Apparently, their isolated location in the southwest meant they were able to avoid paying excise duties for many years. Maurice “Hunting Cap” O’Connell, the head of the family, built up a large fortune through these exploits. Now his great, great, great, great-grandnephew is continuing the tradition, although this time producing his own spirit and paying the excise duties.

He lives with his wife Francesca in the historic Lakeview Estate, a house with a spectacular views out over Lough Leane in Killarney. They recently released The Liberator, the first in a series of Irish whiskeys from Wayward Irish Spirits. It was finished in a 300-year-old stone farmhouse on the estate.

The Liberator is a blend of 13-year-old double-distilled whiskey from Cooley (25 per cent), and other four-year-old whiskeys. A large portion was finished for nine months in Tawny Port casks sourced directly from Oporto. It was “cut” from cask strength to 46 per cent alcohol over a few weeks using spring water from the estate.


In 2018, the company began production of its first single estate whiskey, distilled from barley grown in a field next to the house. This is currently maturing in the same warehouse, in a variety of barrels, including several from a first-growth château in Bordeaux. The O’Connells have several other interesting projects in train.

A mere 700 numbered bottles of The Liberator were produced, so this could quickly become a collector’s item. It would be a pity not to drink it however. The Liberator is a lovely whiskey, medium-bodied and smooth, with a rich palate offering fresh dark fruits, dried figs, and a touch of dark chocolate.

The Liberator is available for €65 from specialist whiskey retailers, including Celtic Whiskey, L Mulligan, James Fox, Carryout Killarney and others.