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Walsh Whiskey Distillery founder Bernard Walsh.
Bottoms Up

Work starts on biggest independent Irish distillery - whiskey and jobs will flow

Walsh Whiskey Distillery in Carlow will be producing by 2016, 55 jobs to come.

WORK IS ABOUT to start on what will be the biggest independent whiskey maker in Ireland when the golden liquid starts flowing in 2016.

The first sod will be turned this morning on the €25 million Walsh Whiskey Distillery at Royal Oak, Co Carlow – a business that the owners say will create 55 permanent jobs and 70 temporary construction jobs.

The distillery, on the banks of the River Barrow, will make Irish pot, grain and malt whiskey under Walsh’s brands The Irishman and Writers Tears when it starts operating after a scheduled 18 months of construction.

Some fast facts

The development will also include:

  • Two maturation houses with the capacity for 60,000 barrels
  • A “visitor experience” to handle 75,000 tourists by 2021
  • Environmentally-friendly features like recycled heating using energy from the production process

The distillery will be developed with the backing of Italian drinks company Illva Saronno, which counts Tia Maria among its brands, and the government through Enterprise Ireland.

Best Irish whiskey in the world?

Walsh Whiskey Distillery founder Bernard Walsh said the company’s goal was to be recognised as the best independent distiller of premium Irish whiskey.

WalshWhiskeyBig Walsh Whiskey Distillery founder Bernard Walsh.

“We are proud to be able to create this distillery in our family’s home county,” he said.

We hope that the people of Royal Oak, Carlow, the southeast and Ireland will be proud of what we do and how we do it.”

Some good numbers

The company has said its revenue has grown 300% over the past five years and 95% of its sales come from exports to 30 countries, which include key markets in the US, Russia, Scandinavia, France and Germany.

It now plans to make a push into the Asian sector in partnership with Illva Saronno, where the Italian firm already has a strong foothold.

Irish whiskey has recently been enjoying a return to favour, with independent analysts putting the 2013 export figure at 62 million litres – up 53% in four years from the 40.5 million litres shipped in 2009.

But the company behind Jameson, the biggest Irish whiskey brand, has voiced concerns about flagging demand at home despite the success of its products overseas.

READ: Americans are acquiring a taste for Jameson – but it’s not so bright at home

READ: Record €9 billion food and beverage exports in 2012 – Bord Bia report

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