Pictured (left) is Shane Braniff, Echlinville Distillery, with John Hood, Invest NI.
Echlinville Distillery in Kircubbin is investing £1.5 million with Invest Northern Ireland assistance to develop premium Irish Whiskey for markets outside Northern Ireland.
The new distillery, the first to be licensed by HM Customs and Excise here in 130 years, will create 15 new jobs in the Co. Down village over the next two years. Invest NI has offered Echlinville Distillery over £216,000 in management and marketing support towards the project. The company has also recently benefited from R&D assistance part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
During a visit to the company, John Hood, Invest NI’s Director of Food and Tourism, was briefed about the company’s plans by Shane Braniff, Managing Director, who founded Echlinville Distillery in 2012 on his own 18 acres Echlinville Estate at Rubane, near Kircubbin.
Mr Hood said: “This is a very enterprising investment by an established businessman who has been engaged in the Irish Whiskey industry for many years and also launched the successful Feckin brand in 2005 in the US and other international markets.
“Our support has been shaped to enable Echlinville Distillery to develop and bring its planned whiskey brands and other spirits to markets outside Northern Ireland as quickly as practicable. Shane Braniff’s expertise in the whiskey business has enabled him to pinpoint substantial business opportunities particularly in the US and to set up the necessary distribution channels required to ensure success of the new premium spirits in what is a highly competitive marketplace.
“The assistance reflects our commitment to support entrepreneurial, innovative and export-focused businesses particularly in predominantly rural opportunities that will help in creating sustainable employment opportunities and overall wealth for the local community,” he added.
Mr Braniff said: “My decision to establish the new distillery, only the second in Northern Ireland, was influenced by the growth in demand for Irish whiskey in the US over the past few years. Irish whiskey is now the fastest growing brown spirit worldwide and demand is currently out stripping supply in the US and many other markets.
“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.
“Our intention is also to develop a Visitors’ Centre with a whiskey museum and restaurant on the site and thereby contribute to tourism on the picturesque Ards Peninsula,” added Mr Braniff.
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.