Walsh Whiskey opens distillery in Carlow

22nd June, 2016 by Amy Hopkins

Walsh Whiskey has officially opened its new €25 million distillery in Royal Oak, County Carlow, becoming the only independent Irish whiskey producer to make malt, pot still and grain liquid.

Walsh Whiskey

Bernard Walsh said the new Walsh Whiskey Distillery allows his company to “control its own destiny”

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by more than 300 people yesterday, Bernard and Rosemary Walsh, along with Augusto Reina, CEO of Italian drinks group Illva Saronno – which owns a 50% stake in Walsh Whiskey Distillery – officially opened the site, marking the return to Irish whiskey production to County Carlow for the first time in more than 200 years.

Production commenced on Easter Sunday this year (27 March), with both column and pot stills now working. The distillery has already produced batches of grain and malt whiskey, with plans to move on to pot still in the coming weeks.

Walsh Whiskey Distillery, based on the 18th century Royal Oak estate, has capacity to produce 650,000 cases, or eight million bottles, annually and will distill the company’s Writers Tears and The Irishman Irish whiskey brands – liquid for which is currently sourced from Midleton.

Walsh Whiskey Distillery will create brand extensions of Writers Tears and The Irishman, retaining its contract with Midelton for bottlings that are already available in the market.

The distillery will also allocate up to 15% of annual production to contract sales and has sealed its first deal with Nordic company Altia.

“After 17 years in business, the opening of our own distillery is both the fulfillment of Rosemary and my own dreams and a game changing moment for the company,” said Bernard Walsh, founder of Walsh Whiskey Distillery.

“We are now in control of our destiny and have the capacity, variety and relationships to play our part in the continued revival of Irish whiskey which is one of this country’s great traditions.

“That we can do this in a place like Royal Oak which is blessed with an abundance of the best natural ingredients as well as being a place of beauty and tranquility is idyllic. We look forward to sharing our whiskeys and Royal Oak with the world.”

Additional capacity from the distillery will enable Walsh Whiskey to bolster capacity to core markets such as the US, Russia and Europe, and also target new markets including India and China, utilising the established distribution networks of its partner Illva Saronno.

Currently, Writers Tears and The Irishman are sold in 40 markets. Walsh Whiskey claims that its distillery’s total annual capacity is the equivalent of 10% of global Irish whiskey exports.

Plans are in place to open a visitor experience next month, while the company will also start building two maturation warehouses with capacity for 60,000 barrels at Royal Oak next year. Currently, stock is transported to warehouses in nearby Kilkenny.

Illva Saronno, producer of the Disaronno and Tia Maria liqueur brands, acquired a 50% stake in Walsh Whiskey Distillery in 2013, securing funds needed to build the site.

“Illva Saronno is enthusiastic about the opening of Royal Oak and proud of the partnership with Walsh Whiskey Distillery,” said Augusto Reina. “We look forward to continuing our support in the coming years through our know-how and expertise in the global spirits’ market.”

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