Newry to gain £7.3m D’Arcy whiskey distillery and visitor centre

Newry is to gain a £7.3m D’Arcy whiskey distillery and visitor centre. Permission has been granted for a ‘world class’ tourist attraction in the Northern Irish city.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council have granted permission for the new development on Monaghan Street, reports The Irish Times. It will include a distillery alongside a bar, restaurant and visitor centre.

The project will take the site back to its roots – it had housed D’Arcy’s Old Irish Whiskey since 1817. The hope is that the new distillery will produce in the region of 9,000 cases of single-malt Matthew D’Arcy & Company whiskey per year.

The project is being backed by Newry businessman and entrepreneur, Michael McKeown who bought the site last February. The director of Matthew D’Arcy & Company Ltd. said the project has been a passion of his for some time and that he hopes to transform the landmark site into a “flagship international tourist attraction.”

“I’m thrilled that we are now moving forward with enthusiasm and that the benefits of this great asset will be felt by the business and hospitality sectors locally and nationally,” he added.

Visitors centre, Victorian bar and restaurant

The £7.3 million investment will be spread over three years and the overall project is expected to reach around 14,000 square feet over several floors.

The plans include the recreation of a Victorian bar alongside a restaurant and international visitors centre.

It is likely that, once the centre is completed, it will create around 50 hospitality jobs. In addition, it will employ a master distiller and staff with cooperage skills.

“Our ambition is to create a world class tourist offering through the restoration of the 200 year old site famous for whiskey distillation,” said Andrew Cowan, chief executive of Matt D’Arcy & Company. Cowan has over 20 years’ experience in both the whiskey business and tourism. He has worked with a range of Irish brands, including Jameson. He was also responsible for The Gathering 2013 which brought in the region of 275,000 visitors to Ireland.

“Our ultimate aim is to produce around 9,000 cases per year of single malt and to retain stocks for at least 10 years aimed at the premium market,” he said. “For some years now, we have been maturing our own whiskey off site and will release a premium matured merchant Irish Whiskey in early 2019 prior to distilling at the Monaghan Street location on completion of the construction phase.”

Brand experiences make spirited attractions

The project will undoubtedly capitalise on the public’s appetite for spirited attractions. Brand experiences dedicated to ‘adult beverages’ are proving increasingly popular worldwide.

Once opened, D’Arcy’s would be ideally placed as a stop on Tourism Ireland’s Ireland Whiskey Trail.

Earlier this Diageo announced it was investing £150 million into Scotch whisky experiences, upgrading 12 distillery visitor centres across Scotland.