N. Ireland’s Quiet Man distillery gets go-aheadBy Kristiane Sherry
Plans to develop a £12 million (US$15m) Irish whiskey distillery for Niche Drinks’s The Quiet Man brand have been approved by Derry & Strabane District Council.
The development marks Niche Drinks’ first move into distilling operations.
Housed in four existing buildings on Ebrington Square, the first distillation at the site is due in the first quarter of 2018.
The site will solely produce malt whiskey, with a total capacity of 500,000 litres of pure alcohol per year.
In its current format, The Quiet Man is produced using third-party sourced liquid, with the stocks matured by Niche Drinks. The brand is exported to 24 markets, with Luxco representing the whiskey in the US.
“This is tremendous news for us as a business and also for the city – we intend to build a top class visitor centre at the distillery, focusing on Derry’s long history as an Irish whiskey-producing city,” said Ciaran Mulgrew, Niche Drinks managing director. “This will be a major attraction for the city and the renewed interest in Irish whiskey and whiskey tourism will give the city a boost.
“The project has been in the planning stages for quite some time and we can press on now and arrange delivery dates for the stills and other key pieces of equipment. A lot of preparation has been done and we are aiming for first distillations to take place in early 2018.”
The planning application was backed by local politicians, including Gary Middleton and Mark Durkan.
“I would also want to thank the recently retired deputy first minister Martin McGuinness who took a particular interest in our application to secure the buildings we needed from the Strategic Investment Board and in our planning application,” Mulgrew continued.
Miriam Mooney, head of the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA), said: “This is fantastic news and is further evidence that the renaissance of Irish whiskeys is occurring throughout the island of Ireland, creating jobs and supporting local economies. Irish whiskey is now the fastest growing premium spirit category in the world, with exports valued at €505 million last year, an increase of more than 300% in the last 10 years.
“In 2013, there were only four distilleries operating in Ireland, now there are 16 distilleries in production and a further 14 in planning. We are really ambitious for our sector, there is huge potential for growth for both small and large entrants to the category. Last year we launched the Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy which is an all island strategy that proposes the development of an Irish whiskey trail across the island. We believe that given the right government supports and collaboration of state agencies north and south of the border, Irish whiskey tourism will increase from 650,000 a year to 1.9 million by 2025 across the island.”
Niche Drinks is known for its Irish cream liqueurs production, and will keep the existing operation alongside the new distillery development.
The company currently employs 65 people, and uses 25% of all milk produced in the North West in its Irish creams.
The Quiet Man distillery is one of 30 new or proposed Irish whiskey production sites across the island of Ireland. Irish food and drink group Bord Bia calculates that Irish whiskey exports increased by 8% in 2016 to €505 million (US$537m) and are on track to double by 2020.