Belfast Telegraph

Echlinville Distillery to create 15 jobs and export drinks globally

By Clare Weir

A whiskey distillery in Co Down – only the second to open in Northern Ireland – is investing £1.5m and creating 15 jobs as it aims to sell its drinks all over the world.

This year Echlinville Distillery in Kircubbin, Co Down, was granted the first licence to distil spirits in Northern Ireland in over 130 years – and could soon expand to include a restaurant, museum and visitors' centre.

Managing director Shane Braniff launched the successful Feckin Irish Whiskey brand in 2005, which has become a huge hit in the USA, where demand for Irish whiskey is skyrocketing.

The company is now planning a range of drinks which can be sold almost immediately – without having to wait the three years for whiskey to mature – and also plans to develop a premium and super premium malt whiskey. Mr Braniff founded Echlinville Distillery in 2012 on his own 18-acre estate, located at Rubane in Kircubbin.

He said he also intends to open a visitor centre and whiskey museum and restaurant to draw more tourists to the Ards Peninsula.

"Irish whiskey is now the fastest growing brown spirit worldwide and demand is currently out-stripping supply in the US and many other markets," he said.

"In addition to the existing Feckin whiskey brands, we have recently relaunched Dunville VR Irish Whiskey, once one of the best known brands, until the closure of the distillery in Belfast that produced the spirit over 80 years ago.

"The Dunville whiskey is also unique in that is the only one distilled using grain barley that we are growing at Kircubbin.

"This ensures complete traceability and provenance of all our spirits.

"We are also sourcing as much equipment and other supplies from other Northern Ireland businesses. Echlinville Distillery will step up production of Irish whiskey and other spirits for export within the next few months.

"The company has recently launched a Patron's Promise initiative that provides whiskey devotees and investors the opportunity to buy casks of malt in advance of official launch."

Invest NI has offered Echlinville Distillery over £216,000 in management and marketing support towards the project and the company has also recently benefited from research and development assistance.

The export drive comes amidst a renewed interest in Northern Ireland's brewing and distilling industries.

Last week, Rademon Estate Distillery officially launched its first product, Shortcross gin, while Hercules Brewing Company has announced it is creating a new Belfast-inspired lager called Yardsman.

Belfast Telegraph