Work to start on Derry’s first Irish whiskey distillery in 200 yearsBy Becky Paskin
Construction of Derry’s first Irish whiskey distillery in 200 years is to begin next year, alongside the release of its owner’s first expression, The Quiet Man.
Irish cream liqueur producer, Niche Drinks, is to finally begin building its new £15 million distillery and visitors’ centre in Campsie in Q2 2015, almost two years after planning permission was first approved.
The group was forced to wait for council permission for its current warehouse and bottling complex at Leckpatrick Dairy to be developed into a supermarket.
The new malt whiskey distillery will produce 1m LPA annually from three stills, with liquid destined for the group’s existing Irish cream liqueur brands, supply contracts and new Irish whiskey brand, The Quiet Man.
Niche Drinks managing director, Ciaran Mulgrew, said the whiskey would be triple-distilled to “be as traditional and authentic as possible”.
“Up until Prohibition in the US, Derry had been the largest whiskey producing city in Ireland,” he said. “It has a long history of whiskey production.”
Mulgrew added that the development would be implemented in two phases. During the first, the group would build its distillery, maturation facilities, bottling hall and visitors’ centre. Further down the line, once the site is fully operational, Niche Drinks will relocate its Irish cream liqueur production to the new site.
The as yet unnamed distillery marks a new chapter for the 30-year-old group, which has only ever sourced its whiskey under a long-term supply contract.
The Quiet Man
Niche Drinks’ first Irish whiskey releases will be a no-age-statement blended whiskey and an 8-year-old single malt, both of which are being lined up to launch at the start of next year using supplied liquid.
Mulgrew anticipates the majority of the volume to be exported to its current core markets of North America, the UK, Scandinavia, former Russian republics, Eastern Europe and some Central European countries.
The recipe has been developed to enable the group to seamlessly switch in its own liquid once the distillery’s output has matured fully.
Mulgrew added: “The first whiskey will be called Quiet Man, after my father. He spent 50 years working as a barman around Belfast and he always used to say that he’d seen and heard everything, but he told no tales. They called him ‘the quiet man’. He died in 2005, well before I had the money to build a distillery.”