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£30m Bushmills expansion plan will boost brand, jobs and tourism

By Cate McCurry

Published 12/12/2015

The owner of Bushmills distillery has also lodged proposals for a £30m expansion at its existing north Antrim premises
The owner of Bushmills distillery has also lodged proposals for a £30m expansion at its existing north Antrim premises

The owner of Bushmills distillery has lodged proposals for a £30m expansion.

It comes a year after the whiskey brand was bought by Mexican firm Jose Cuervo.

The company has filed a planning application for a new distillery facility which, it says, will "effectively double production capacity".

The expansion is part of a "masterplan" established in 2007 and it is expected to lead to up to 20 jobs with a 10-15% rise in the wages bill.

The distillery currently employs around 150 staff.

Under the plan there will be around £3m of capital expenditure at the distillery every year for the next 10 to 15 years.

The application encompasses details of a new tourism and visitor centre.

The company said this were at an early stage but the aim is to produce a "world class" facility.

The proposals will now be considered by the planning committee of Causeway Coast and Glens Council.

In the 34-page document, the plans state: "The new distillery facility will effectively double production capacity at the Bushmills site."

It goes on to say: "OBD (Old Bushmills Distillery) is at an early stage in planning a new tourism offering showcasing the best of Bushmills and Ireland through a world class visitor centre."

Jose Cuervo is owned by the Mexico-based Beckmann family.

The company paid Diageo $408m when it bought the brand last year.

In an interview with the family-owned multinational drinks company, chief executive Juan Domingo Beckmann hailed the purchase as the most significant in its 250-year history.

"This is a very exciting time for both Bushmills Irish Whiskey and Jose Cuervo," he said at the time.

"We see great synergies and similarities between the two brands.

"Like Bushmills Irish Whiskey, Jose Cuervo is built on a very strong tradition of quality and craftsmanship that dates back over 250 years, so we understand the importance of nurturing and protecting the heritage and quality of a brand and are strongly committed to doing exactly that with Bushmills."

He added: "I am certain that this strategic decision will allow Jose Cuervo to continue growing in other categories and to continue developing our business around the world for another 250 years."

TUV councillor for the area Sharon McKillop welcomed the news.

She said: "By 2025 it is hoped to double production, which will lead to the creation of a significant number of new jobs.

"There will also be work for the construction industry with plans to build a number of new warehouses.

"I also welcome the intention to enhance the visitor experience of those who tour the Bushmills distillery.

"Bushmills is known across the world because of the distillery, and it is a key tourism asset as well as being an important local employer in its own right. Both the global reputation of the town and local employment have received a boost with this news."

Bushmills distillery claims to be the oldest licensed one in the world, with distillation taking place there since at least the 17th century.

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