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Slane Castle submits plans for Irish whiskey distillery

Slane Castle in County Meath, Ireland, has submitted plans to build a new €10 million distillery and malting plant on its grounds, with a view to begin producing Irish whiskey in 2014.

Slane Castle distillery
An architect’s impression of the Slane Castle distillery

Alex Mountcharles, managing director of Slane Castle Irish Whiskey, has submitted a planning application to Meath County Council to transform a group of existing 18th and 19th century courtyard buildings into a distillery, alongside the build of a new malting plant.

If approved, Slane Castle will become the first Irish whiskey producer to grow, malt and distil its own barley; it currently grows around 2,000 tonnes a year.

Mountcharles said that having its whiskey supply cut off by Beam when the multinational acquired the Cooley business in early 2012, he and his father, Lord Henry Mountcharles, were encouraged to begin work on plans to build their own distillery.

“It was a bit of a knock when we lost the supply but I always wanted to do a distillery from the outset, so all that situation did was force the hand and move the project forward,” he told The Spirits Business. “Now our priority is to get up and running as soon as we can but do it in the right way.”

Slane Castle plans to eventually produce a triple-distilled single malt whiskey alongside a traditional Irish single pot still whiskey, which uses both malted and unmalted barley, all under the Slane Castle brand.

“In the longer term we’re aiming to specialise in older maturation and special cask finishes as well,” added Mountcharles. “I’m particularly interested in port and sherry cask finishes as one of my ancestors, the guy who built the castle at the end of the 18th century, travelled extensively through Spain and Portugal, so we’ll be looking to retrace his steps for inspiration.”

Mountcharles hopes the planning application will be approved shortly, with work beginning on the site before the end of the year. He expects to start producing liquid by the end of 2014, with an initial annual production of 600,000 litres of pure alcohol.

While it waits for the whiskey to mature, Slane Castle will offer a poitin and range of aged ‘whiskeys’ showcasing the liquid’s evolution at the distillery’s visitor centre. In addition, consumers are able to purchase a cask in advance.

This year also sees a return of the Slane Castle music festival this summer, an event that was cancelled last year due to the financial strain caused by Beam’s decision.

Mountcharles has not ruled out the possibility of supplying third parties with whiskey from Slane Castle, but would “be very selective about who we chose”.

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