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Ireland’s only island-based distillery opens in Achill


BLENDING IN The newly developed Drioglann Oileán Acla (Achill Island Distillery) was officially launched by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, TD in the Údarás na Gaeltachta business park in Bun an Churraigh, Acaill.  Pictured, from left: Mark de Faoite (Údaras, Director of Enterprise, Employment, Property and Engineering), John and Marion McKay (Irish American Trading Company) and Minister Michael Ring. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Anton McNulty

Minister Michael Ring performed the official opening of Ireland’s only island-based whiskey distillery, which will have the capacity to create up to 25 jobs on Achill Island.
The newly developed Drioglann Oileán Acla (Achill Island Distillery) was officially launched by the Minister for Rural and Community Development on Friday where he also performed the official opening of the Achill Distillery Visitor Centre, located on the Údarás na Gaeltachta business park in Achill.
The first island-based distillery in Ireland has been developed by Irish American Trading Company, who invested over €4 million in the project with the support of Údarás na Gaeltachta. The company estimates it will provide up to 25 jobs, across the distillery and visitor centre, when it is fully operational and at capacity in the coming years.
Irish American currently produce two brands of whiskey: its Irish American Classic Blend and its Irish American Ten-Year-Old Single Malt. At present, Irish American sources its whiskeys from existing distilleries in Ireland and blended into their own brand, but the whiskey will be distilled from scratch in their Achill distillery, with production due to start at the end of July.
CEO of Irish American John McKay told The Mayo News that he was delighted to locate their first distillery in Achill and wanted it to be a landmark on the island for many years.
“The long-term plan is that the distillery will be a landmark for future generations of people living and visiting Achill. We hope to produce more whiskeys and Achill will be included in the brand. When the distillery is at full capacity further down the road we hope to increase the number of staff to 25 people,” he said.

Another attraction
Opening the distillery, Minister Ring thanked Mr McKay and his family for making the investment in Achill. As well as providing jobs, he said, it will be another attraction for visitors to the island.
“Thank you for your investment here today. The most important aspect is the 25 jobs that are going to be created in Achill. To John and your family I want to thank you for choosing Achill because you could have chosen any corner of Ireland and I want to say on behalf of the Government thank you.”
The company started production in 2015 and focuses mainly on the US market and is now available to buy in 26 states including California.
The Achill distillery was designed by master distiller David Hynes, Director of Great Northern Distillery, who said that there are now 26 running distilleries in Ireland compared to two just 30 years ago. He said distilleries are a long-term investment and praised entrepreneurs like Mr McKay for having the vision to take the chance to make the investment.
The two copper stills were manufactured in Scotland and will be the centrepiece of the visitor centre in the distillery, which will also offer tours and tastings in its own bar, The Barley Field.
Marc de Faointe of Údarás na Gaeltachta noted that Drioglann Acla will also form an essential part of a burgeoning Gaeltacht Distillery Trail, being developed by entrepreneurs in differing Gaeltacht areas, with the support of Údarás na Gaeltachta.