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Northern Ireland to welcome £15m Hinch Distillery

Entrepreneur Dr Terry Cross OBE has unveiled plans to open a £15 million (US$19m) Irish whiskey and gin distillery in County Down, Northern Ireland, next year.

L-r: Hinch Distillery MD Derek Hardy with executive director of business and sector development at Invest Northern Ireland, Brian Dolaghan

The 30,0000 sq ft Hinch Distillery, located between Belfast and Ballynahinch, will also include a visitor centre. The site will produce the Craft Hinch Irish whiskey and Ninth Wave Gin brands.

Economic development agency Invest Northern Ireland has provided £1.9m (US$2.5m) of support towards the construction of the distillery, and investment in machinery and equipment.

The distillery, which is due to be completed between spring and early summer 2020, will span two floors, housing the whiskey and gin production, bottling line, storage facilities and offices.

The visitor centre will include a coffee shop, public restaurant, pub, outside courtyard space, events spaces and retail shop.

The visitor experience will include a history of Irish whiskey, a tutored tasting, a gin tour and will give consumers the opportunity to produce and bottle their own gins. The site will be able to accommodate more than 100,000 visitors a year.

The project is expected to create 42 jobs over the next five years, which will generate nearly £1.3m (US$1.7m) in additional annual salaries for the Northern Ireland economy.

Hinch Distillery is named after the nearby town of Ballynahinch and will use local materials and craftsmen to help construct the site.

Drinksology, the company behind the interior of New York bars The Dead Rabbit and BlackTail, will design the distillery.

‘Huge potential’

“Irish whiskey has continually been the fastest-growing spirit category in the world over the last 10 years, nearly trebling in size,” said Cross.

“This trend is forecast to continue in the future with Irish whiskey beginning to approach and indeed overtake sales of Scotch in many international markets.

“The world gin market has also witnessed phenomenal growth in the last few years yet still has huge potential to grow in markets where gin is still a relatively small category.

“We are launching the Hinch Distillery to provide visitors with a highly differentiated product and experience that couples the production of our quality spirits with a story and heritage. We hope it will become an attraction in its own right and offer guests a real understanding of the skills and methods needed to produce our spirits.”

Cross, who purchased and restored Bordeaux vineyard Château de la Ligne in 2000, will become company chairman of Hinch Distillery.

Derek Hardy has been named managing director, while Belfast-born Aaron Flaherty has been appointed head distiller. Flaherty has more than 15 years of experience in the whisk(e)y distilling business, including roles at Bushmills and Scotch distilleries.

“Hinch Irish whiskeys and Ninth Wave Gin are already making waves globally,” added Hardy. “We have a presence in 15 markets including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the US and European countries.

“Our goal is to double our export markets by the end of 2020 and the timing of the Hinch Distillery opening couldn’t come at a better time for us.”

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