Sunday, 19 October 2008

Distillery planned for Dingle

The Porterhouse pub chain has applied for planning permission for an €8 million distillery in Dingle, Co Kerry.

If the project gets the go-ahead, the distillery will produce ‘‘super premium’’ whiskey and gin, using water from a 120-foot well and spring. A former creamery building just outside the centre of the town would house the distillery and a visitors’ centre.

Jerry O’Sullivan, a Dingle auctioneer and managing director of Southbound Properties, which sold the creamery, is investing in the scheme with the Porterhouse group. The group, headed by Oliver Hughes, already brews its own beers and has bars in Ireland and Britain.

It has 250 staff and revenues of about €27.5 million. The former head distiller of Laphroaig scotch, John McDougal, will be a consultant to the distillery project, and Jaime Jurado, an American master distiller, will be responsible for the finished product. Equipment will be imported from Forsyth’s still-makers in Scotland.

Hughes said he had been visiting Dingle on holidays for 25 years and had often considered opening a distillery there.

‘‘About 60 new distilleries have opened in the United States and Scotland in the past few years. The example of companies like Anchor Steam, which opened a micro-distillery in the United States five or six years ago, got me thinking,” he said.

‘‘The one thing you need for whiskey is provenance, and we have a wonderful tradition of poitín-making in this country. The new distillery will be aiming very much at the top end of the market, which is currently growing at around 15 per cent per annum.

‘‘We’ll be producing handcrafted, triple-distilled whiskey, using oak vats which were previously used to store port and American bourbon.”

The project will create 18 to 20 jobs, between the distillery and the visitors’ centre. Whiskey production should begin towards the end of next year. The Dingle distillery would be the fifth operational distillery on the island of Ireland.

The largest is Irish Distillers’ Jameson Experience in Midleton, Co Cork, which produces Jameson, Tullamore Dew, Powers, Paddy and Redbreast. Businessman John Teeling owns the Cooley distillery in Co Louth, which makes Kilbeggan whiskey, Tyrconnell single malt and Connemara peated single malt.

Cooley also owns Locke’s Distillery in Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, which matures most oft he Cooley produce and operates its own pot-still making malt whiskey. Diageo’s distillery in Bushmills, Co Antrim, produces one oft he world’s top-selling whiskeys.

Sunday Business Post

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