WORK is set to begin along the border on what has been described as Co Fermanagh’s first whiskey distillery.
The £5 million project in the village of Garrison is expected to create 25 full-time permanent jobs when ready in two years. The Scotts Irish Whiskey venture, which will also produce vodka and gin, has been backed by London-based investors. Westmeath native Angus Scott, who works in London, is the company’s commercial director.
He said: “We have a group of investors who are London based. One of them is a native of Garrison.” He believes the development will be Co Fermanagh’s first whiskey distillery, with its main focus the premium export market. But with Irish whiskey required to mature in wooden casks for a minimum of three years, it’s understood the distillery will also develop gin and vodka products during the interim period.
Fermanagh already boasts a well-established gin and vodka distillery. The Boatyard began production in Enniskillen three years ago, becoming Co Fermanagh’s first legal distillery in over 130 years.
The commercial director of the Scotts distillery said the investment in Garrison has been inspired by the huge growth in Irish whiskey export sales in recent years. According to the Irish Whiskey Association the recent renaissance of the spirit will see sales double from six million cases in 2010 to 12 million by next year. “We’re about to commence construction,” said Mr Scott. “We’re based in Garrison, right on the border.”
The land on the edge of Garrison was originally earmarked for residential development, but fell into bank ownership during the financial crisis.
The 26 acre site was acquired by the Scotts Irish Whiskey company some five years ago.
The business has taken its name from the original owner of the farm on which the site is based, Hammy Scott. “He was the original owner of the farm and a publican in the Garrison area,” said Mr Scott. “He was also a bonder of whiskey, so he would have brought it in and blended it. “He also ran a sawmill, powered by the river, which is something we want to do with our distillery, power it with a hydro-electric scheme.”
The first year will largely involve the construction phase, with the still established over the second 12 months. “The initial investment will be £5m over the next two years, with more to follow,” said the commercial director.
The company has already sourced Belleek-based Gormley Contracts to carry out the work. Mr Scott said the natural environment of the area lends itself well to whiskey production. “We have the water on site and the whiskey can mature in one of the cleanest air environments in Ireland,” he said.
Source: The Irish News