Minister backs distilleries plans
Whiskey making may be an ancient art but it is experiencing somewhat of a modern revival in Northern Ireland, with plans for another two new distilleries being toasted.
Stormont's Environment Minister Alex Attwood has recommended planning approval for the two separate enterprises on the Ards Peninsula in Co Down.
It comes only days after plans for a £15 million distillery in Londonderry were given the green light.
The trio of new manufacturers have emerged as proposals to transform part of Belfast's old Crumlin Road Gaol into a boutique distillery continue to develop.
The new generation of manufacturers are following centuries of distilling tradition in the north of Ireland, perhaps most famously at the Old Bushmills Distillery on the Causeway Coast.
Of the two new plants recommended for approval by Mr Attwood, one is for a micro whiskey distillery on a farm at Ballyhenry House on the Lough Shore Road in Portaferry.
The other application is for a distillery plus visitors' centre at Gransha Road in Kircubbin. This proposal includes the conversion of a Grade B1 listed stable building. The U-shaped two-storey building will be converted into a visitors' centre, which will include a restaurant and kitchen, a distillery exhibition centre and museum, tasting room and shop.
"These distilleries will provide a boost for the Ards Peninsula which will be welcomed by traders and visitors," said Mr Attwood.
"These will provide construction jobs in the short term and attract visitors and increase tourism once completed. These recommendations and the application for a new distillery in Derry that I approved last week prove how DOE (Department of the Environment) can fulfil its dual mandate as the leading environment ministry and a leading economy ministry."
The recommendations by Mr Attwood will now go to members of Ards Borough Council for consideration.