Go-ahead for £7.3m whiskey distillery and visitors centre
A £7.3m whiskey distillery and visitors centre in Newry with the potential to create 50 jobs has been granted planning permission.
Entrepreneur Michael McKeown, the founder of car accident firm Crash Services, has developed the plans to revive the defunct Matt D'Arcy & Company on the Monaghan Street site.
And Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has now given the project the green light.
When complete, the 14,000 sq ft site will feature a recreation of a Victorian-era bar, a restaurant and international visitors centre - as well as a whiskey distillery producing single malt.
Mr McKeown said he plans to create 50 jobs, as well as recruiting a master distiller.
The restoration and build of the new distillery and facilities are expected to take around 18 months.
The company said it hopes to attract tourists from the US, Chinese, European and Australasian markets.
Andrew Cowan, chief executive of Matt D'Arcy & Company, said: "This is a really special development which will create jobs, fill local hotels and bring many tourists to this eastern corridor of Ireland, perfectly positioned between Belfast and Dublin.
"We have already received a significant amount of interest in the plans to develop the Irish whiskey tourism offering on this part of the island which we believe will be very successful.
"The Irish whiskey market is hugely successful and growing at a significant rate. Last year the market produced a modest nine million cases with the 2020 target of 12 million cases looking like it will be exceeded.
"Our ambition is to create a world-class tourist offering through the restoration of the 200-year-old site famous for whiskey distillation.
"Our ultimate aim is to produce around 9,000 cases per year of single malt and to retain stocks for at least 10 years aimed at the premium market."
It's the latest distillery project from an Northern Ireland company. This week, Ion Distillery in Carrickmore began the process of tendering for companies to carry out work on a distillery for gin, vodka and rum, as well as a visitors centre.
And in Co Down, Shortcross Distillery at Rademon Estate - one of the first in a new wave of craft spirits distillers - has also opened a visitors centre.