Belfast Telegraph

End of a long thirst as Derry to get first distillery in 97 years

By Donna Deeney

Londonderry's reputation as a producer of fine whiskey is to be resurrected after the go-ahead was given for a new distillery and visitor centre at the former Ebrington barracks.

Niche Drinks has been given planning permission, consent for listed building change of use and for an extension at the site.

The company plans to open The Quiet Man distillery next year.

The ambitious proposals will transform four former military buildings - three of which are listed - including a guard house and jail, which will become a visitor exhibition area.

The company will turn a barrack store into the distillery mash house, while the barrack master's house will become a guided tour and tasting area leading to a corporate boardroom, shop, cafe, bar and new "whiskey garden".

Formerly the "whiskey capital of the world", the city at one time produced more of the tipple than any other place.

But with the closure of the Watts Distillery in 1921, the craft was lost to Derry.

Ciaran Mulgrew, managing director of Niche Drinks, is the man behind its renaissance.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said: "At the end of the 19th century Derry was the world's biggest producer of whiskey bar none, but we are now set to once again distil whiskey.

"The Quiet Man distillery and whiskey is named after my own father, who was a barman in Belfast for over 50 years.

"He told me that he had heard every imaginable tale and story - good, bad and everything in between.

"But like all good bartenders he told no tales, and was known as the 'Quiet Man'.

"So I thought that's what I will call the whiskey.

"We have been producing Quiet Man whiskey since 2015 in Derry, where it is blended and bottled.

"But 2018 will see the first whiskey distilled in the city in almost two centuries and that it something we are very excited about."

SDLP councillor John Boyle is the chair of Derry and Strabane District Council planning committee, which gave Niche Drinks the green light for its ambitious plans.

He said the new craft distillery and visitor centre would help transform the Ebrington Square site.

"This proposal is an important development that will enhance and regenerate a listed building that forms part of a key cluster of landmark buildings and spaces which are significant to our built heritage in our city," he said.

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