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Achill distillery looks to start production in the autumn

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WHISKEY IN THE JAR  John McKay, CEO of The IrishAmerican Trading Co, pictured on Achill Island where he now plans to distill his brand of whiskey.  Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Anton McNulty

Ireland’s first ever island based distillery is expected to begin production in the autumn, with plans also in place to develop a visitor centre, employing up to 14 people.
IrishAmerican Trading Company are looking to develop a €5 million distillery on Achill Island in an Údarás na Gaeltachta Industrial Estate in Bunnacurry. The stills are currently being manufactured in Scotland and are expected to completed in time for the distillery to begin production in the autumn.
The CEO of IrishAmerican, John McKay, told The Mayo News that they will make premium single malt whiskey and their sales will be concentrated on the Irish and North American market.
“We have been producing and selling for three years for Ireland and the east coast of the US. We have been selling in Boston, New York and New York State and it has been well received, winning a number of awards,” he explained.
IrishAmerican started production of its IrishAmerican Classic Blend and IrishAmerican ten-year-old Single Malt, in 2015. The whiskeys are double distilled in copper pot stills and aged in American oak barrels in Ireland and the current sales target is 3,000 cases.
At present, IrishAmerican source their whiskeys from existing distilleries in Ireland and blended into their own brand but they will be distilled from scratch in their Achill distillery.

Unique location
John, who lives in Ballyhaunis, explained he choose Achill because of the uniqueness of its location.
“I live in Mayo myself and I didn’t want to open just another distillery in Dublin. I wanted it to be in Mayo and the opportunity arose to locate it in Achill. It is a unique location and will be the only distillery in Ireland and maybe even Europe on an island and as far west as you can go.”
Once the distillery is up and running, the company plan to open a visitor centre in 2019 and in total the distillery will have the potential to create up to 14 jobs. The distillery will be located on the site of the former Achill Brewery, which produced beer on the island since 2016, before going into liquidation in December.
The Achill-based distillery has been given a support package of €150,000 from Údarás na Gaeltachta and its Chief Executive, Micheál Ó hÉanaigh said the investment in Achill represents a huge vote of confidence for the potential of rural Gaeltacht areas.
“The development of the distillery and visitor centre will be a valuable asset to add to the quality tourism product and experience that is available on Achill Island along the Wild Atlantic Way,” he said.

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