THE opening of a €10m state-of-the-art Clonakilty Distillery – hoping to attract 35,000 visitors annually – will be another strong tourism driver for the innovative town, according to Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD, who officially opened it.
The facility is already creating 35 jobs and boasts a visitor experience, a gin school and The Whale’s Tail bistro.
In what could be seen as a reflection of the Irish economy’s varying fortunes, the building was originally meant to be a bank, was then occupied by a school, and is now a whiskey distillery.
‘This isn’t just about producing good quality whiskey, it’s also about the visitor experience and in the visitor centre here we certainly hope to see between 30,000 and 40,000 people coming through, which is a tourism driver, as well as a functioning working distillery,’ said Minister Coveney.
‘It’s great to see the Scully family developing this and investing about €10m here and employing 35 people, but also being part of the tourism trail that is the Wild Atlantic Way, as well as producing a product that has a great family story to it.’
He said that with the ‘whiskey renaissance’ taking hold in Ireland in recent years, he is confident that the Clonakilty Distillery looks like it’s going to be a big success.
‘We’ve gone from three or four distilleries to over 40 in Ireland now, and many more on the way. This is a family
effort and it compliments what this town is about. It’s an innovative town – towns like Clonakilty can inspire others.’
As well as producing a triple-distilled single pot still whiskey, produced from grain grown on the Scully family farm in Ardfield, the distillery also produces Minke Gin, derived from locally-produced whey and infused with the hand-foraged coastal botanical, rock samphire.
Chief executive Michael Scully said the project is a statement of confidence in the area and a declaration of support for the town.
‘Construction work began 15 months ago and we’re happy to say that whenever possible we used the skills of local people across West Cork to deliver the project. Now the hard work begins to make the Clonakilty brand a global leader in the international whiskey market,’ he said.
Michael thanked the team, Cahalane Bros, who physically developed the building.
‘It was not straightforward fitting a distillery into what was meant to be a bank, but the workmanship has been exceptional.’
Clonakilty Distillery will be open 362 days of the year, bar Christmas Day, St Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Day.