£60m Bushmills expansion approved
Old Bushmills Distillery is to double production over the next five years after plans were approved yesterday for a major extension at the north coast whiskey maker.
This will include a new distillery, boiler house, cooling equipment and barrel store on the existing site, all part of a £60m expansion.
Last year the distillery received permission to construct 29 additional maturation warehouses.
Master distiller Colum Egan said work will start later this year.
"We are thrilled to receive planning permission to build additional distilling capacity on the site of the current distillery," he said.
"We've been liaising with the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council for over a year on the application so we are delighted to get this green light to produce even more Bushmills for whiskey drinkers around the world.
"Our plans for building additional distilling capacity is part of our £60m plan to double production capacity over the next five years to meet the increasing demand for our portfolio of single malt and premium blended Irish whiskeys.
"As part of this investment, we plan to start building 29 additional maturation warehouses this year to support the long-term growth of the Old Bushmills Distillery, so it's a very exciting time for Bushmills and our industry."
The distillery, which has had a presence in the Co Antrim village since the 1600s, is now under the umbrella of Mexican drinks giant Jose Cuervo.
It currently employs 106 staff and reported pre-tax profits of £7.1m in its latest results.
Concerns over the potential environmental impact of the plan had sparked opposition, with more than 100 objections lodged against the original proposals.
Community group Save Our Causeway Coast expressed concern over the use of "hazardous substances" on the site. TUV leader Jim Allister also wrote to planners to express concerns about "serious issues".
But planning officials recommended granting both consent for the use of hazardous substances and full planning permission for the maturation facility, which, alongside the warehouses, will also see the construction of a fire water retention lagoon, a sprinkler pump house, tanks, landscaping and a new access road.
The Old Bushmills Distillery currently requires storage for just over 81,000 barrels per year - around 16.3m litres.
The distillery already has 20 warehouses on site.
The new development will not only to store its existing produce, but also barrels from extended facilities.