Ahascragh Mill Set For New Life As Distillery Complex
McAllister Distillery Ltd, a whiskey making company from Dublin, are converting the unused old mill located in Ahascragh into a distillery and visitor center. The mill has been a hallmark of the town since the 1800s and processed grain into flour into the late 50s. However, it has been derelict for decades.
Husband and wife team Gareth and Michelle McAllister, from North County Dublin set it up in 2018 with the purpose to produce crafted Irish spirits to the highest quality of tasting experience with unique and innovative flavours. Gareth is a qualified chemical engineer; he has spent thirty years in the corporate world and has worked with many high-profile products in Asia and believes that the product will be successful in that market. Having this background, they realised that they have a passion for business and whiskey making and wanted to get into business together.
"We had been searching for a while out west for some place for this project and we found Ahascragh early last year and fell in love with the village. We're actually now planning to move to a house nearby from Portmarnock.” States Garry .
Their aim for the distillery is to create a business in the growing food and drink tourism category which is an appropriate addition to the local area. They hope to provide a visitor experience and that it’s footfall will provide a generous tourist boost to the local area.
The distillery will produce different styles of Irish whiskey and gin, with the site also including rooms for hospitality events, retail shop and cafe. 15 jobs will be created at the distillery and visitor centre, with a further 60-70 indirect roles for suppliers, farmers, logistics providers and other local and national businesses .
"We have a unique story and a unique experience for the consumer. We want to produce whiskey and gin that will put Ahascragh and Galway firmly on the Irish whiskey tourist trail, while introducing the products we make to a national and international clientele” , explains Garry.
However, due to the run-down mill, extensive works worth €6-8 million are set to take place. The work consists alterations and repair, installation of equipment for stills, administration space and function space ancillary to the distillery use. They’ll include a museum/interpretative area displaying articles about the mill and whiskey for visitors. A tasting room will be incorporated and the old Mill wheel will be restored, with the complex designed by Scottish firm Organic Architects, which has transformed a number of old buildings into distilleries in Scotland
If planning is approved by the council, production could begin in 2022 with a whiskey sourced from other distillers sold under the brand name by next year.
Irish Whiskey production grew rapidly in the late 18th century. At its height in the mid-19th century 88 licenced distilleries, producing more than 12m 9-litre cases annually, made Irish Whiskey the largest global spirits category of the time. However a combination of events led to the industry's demise and by the mid-1980s only two Irish whiskey distilleries remained, both owned by Irish Distillers. Scotch, Bourbon, and Canadian whiskey had all surged and left Irish volumes far behind at about 1% of global sales.
The late 1980s marked the beginning of Irish Whiskey’s comeback. In 1988, Irish Distillers (IDL) became a member of Group Pernod Ricard, which provided massive distribution opportunities for Jameson, and the other IDL Irish whiskey brands, through its well-established global sales network. In 1987, Cooley Distillery was established and was the first independent distillery to begin distilling Irish Whiskey in over 100 years
However, in 2010, there were still only four distilleries in Ireland in operation producing and selling Irish Whiskey: Cooley Distillery (est.1987), Kilbeggan Distillery (est. 1757, re-commissioned 2007), New Midleton Distillery (est. 1975), Old Bushmills Distillery (est. 1784)However, by January 2020 the number of operational whiskey distilleries in Ireland had increased to 32, demonstrating the scale of Ireland's Whiskey Renaissance.
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