Copeland Spirits to open Irish gin and whiskey distilleryBy Nicola Carruthers
Irish gin producer Copeland Spirits has received planning approval to build a distillery and visitor centre in Northern Ireland as part of ambitious plans to move into new categories.
County Down-based company Copeland Spirits has signed a 125-year lease to build a distillery, visitor centre and events space on a 6,500-square-foot site in the harbour town of Donaghadee.
Work on the new site at 43 Manor Street, a former community centre and cinema, began in late November 2018. The site is expected to open this summer.
The £600,000 (US$784,000) investment in the project is expected to last for around six months. Upon completion, Copeland will move its operations from its current Saintfield premises to Donaghadee.
The project is part of the firm’s plans to “develop its existing gin range” and enter into new categories such as whiskey. The distillery will introduce new offerings later this year.
The company currently produces a gin range under the Copeland name, including Rhuberry Gin, Raspberry & Mint Gin, and limited edition variants Strawberry & Basil and Spiced Apple & Blackcurrant.
Copeland Spirits was established by Gareth Irvine in the summer of 2016. He successfully raised £30,000 (US$39,206) through crowdfunding in 2016, securing funds from more than 390 backers who pledged between £50 and £500 in return for bottles of gin and other Copeland rewards.
Original features from the site will be retained for the new development. The main floor of the distillery will house a 3.3-metre-high still made by German coppersmith Arnold Holstein.
The new distillery will allow Copeland to “craft its lasting brand legacy” and “become an integral part of the Donaghadee community”.
Head distiller William Stafford, who joined Copeland earlier this year, will be responsible for the day to day distilling operations and strive to “break new boundaries in the spirits industry”.
Irvine said: “Since our launch in 2016, establishing a distillery and bringing our production closer to the Copeland Islands has been our main ambition.
“We’ve worked incredibly hard over the last two years to make this a reality and now that planning has been approved and construction is well underway, it’s both rewarding and motivating to see the site being restored to its former glory as the hub of Donaghadee.
“As a brand, we are incredibly committed to our heritage and we’re proud that our investment will create new jobs and bring additional tourism to this idyllic part of Northern Ireland.
“Establishing our permanent home here in Donaghadee is the new start of this journey, and with a 125-year lease on the building we envisage being part of Northern Ireland’s future story for quite some time.
“We are incredibly excited to move into [Irish] whiskey – an industry that is targeting global sales of 12 million cases by 2020 and with growing interest from new markets for us including Russia. The category offers more than enough potential for a new player and our distillery will bring something fresh, energetic and imaginative to it.
“Our flavoured range of 37.8% gins are already a huge success across Northern Ireland, wider UK, Ireland and Europe so we feel it’s the right time to bring something new to the market.”