Belfast Telegraph

Glass raised to celebrate expansion at Echlinville

By Rachel Martin

Whisky distillery Echlinville is preparing for a new era as it finishes work on its new premises. Echlinville, which is best known for its Feckin Irish Whiskey, was the first distillery to be licensed by HMRC in Northern Ireland in over 130 years.

It's been producing whiskey for two and a half years is now putting the finishing touches to its £5m premises in Kircubbin.

But it's also moving away from Feckin Irish Whiskey and into the much smaller world of luxury whiskeys.

As part of the new focus, it's revived the old Dunville brand of whiskey.

The business is run by Shane Braniff at his own 18 acres Echlinville Estate at Rubane, near Kircubbin.

The new still-house comes with specialist pieces of equipment which allows a wider range of spirits including vodka, gin and rum to be produced.

An extensive maturation hall and bottling and storage facilities are also part of the new build

The company has recently started processing spirit for Irish whiskey from three stills for its blended and malt whiskeys.

Founder Shane Braniff said he wanted to experiment with different strengths and varieties to enhance the company's offering.

"We cannot compete with Jameson or Bushmills at the lower end of the market," he said.

"We can't produce to that scale so we want to produce more niche products different flavours varieties and strengths.

"We want to make top quality whiskey on a smaller scale and focus on that."

The move allowed the company to provide around 15 new jobs in Kircubbin, Co Down, where the company also grows 100 acres of barley.

Echlinville's Dunville's PX, which won a medal at the World Whiskies Awards currently retails at £49.65 a bottle, while new offering, Dunville's Rum Finish, will hit the market at approximately £200 a bottle.

Dunville's Three Crowns, a blend of three premium spirits, is expected to sell for £36 a bottle.

Echlinville describes itself as the only Irish whiskey producer which takes control of the whole production process.

The company not only grows its own barley but also takes control of the malting process too and distills natural spirit from its own barley.

Mr Braniff, who founded the business in 2012, said: "We've been working on the development of the distillery over the past four years and it's tremendously exciting to see the stills now in full operation.  

"We can now concentrate our efforts and resources on developing and marketing the brands including Dunville, a very old Irish whiskey that dates back to the 19th century.

"Our focus will be on growing exports of the Dunville and other Irish whiskeys. 

"Dunville VR Irish Whiskey was once one of the best known brands especially in the US until the closure of the Royal Irish Distillery in Belfast which produced the spirit over 80 years ago. 

"We'll also be reviving Dunville Three Crowns, another historic Irish whiskey. 

"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." 

Earlier this month the distillery joined the John Hewitt Bar to unveil Jawbox Gin, Ireland's first single estate gin.

Echinville hopes to sell the spirt to US markets.

The drink will have a juniper berry profile, and is described as having a more classic flavour than other small-batch varieties

Belfast Telegraph