New £15m whiskey distillery for Northern Ireland
Dr Terry Cross OBE, the man behind Delta Print & Packaging Ltd, has invested in a 30,000 sq. ft. distillery located between Belfast and Ballynahinch which will produce his Craft Hinch Irish Whiskey brands and Ninth Wave Gin, as well as opening up the distillery to members of the public.
Invest Northern Ireland has offered £1.9 million of support towards the construction of the new distillery and investment in plant, machinery and equipment. The project is set to create 42 new jobs over the next five years. Once in place, the jobs will generate nearly £1.3million in additional annual salaries for the Northern Ireland economy.
The distillery, which is due to be completed between spring and early summer 2020, will span two floors and will house the large Irish Whiskey and Gin distillery, bottling line, storage facilities and offices.
The visitor centre facilities will include a coffee shop, public restaurant, pub, outside courtyard space, multi-purpose events spaces catering for Weddings to Corporate events and retail shop, merchandising and an extensive range of distillery products.
Fully trained guides will bring visitors on an interactive and informative journey that gives insight to both the history of Irish whiskey and its unique distilling process with tutored tasting at the conclusion of the tour. The ‘gin tour’ will allow visitors to both learn about the skills and methods involved in producing fine Irish Gin and at the same time produce their very own individual gin recipe which will be bottled for them to take away at the end of the tour.
Designed by Drinksology, the name behind the interior of the Dead Rabbit and Blacktail Bars in New York, Hinch Distillery, which is named after neighbouring Ballynahinch, will use local materials and artisan craftsmen to ensure the project is a real celebration of the best which can be produced in Northern Ireland.
It represents a huge investment from Dr Cross who is keen to grow his share of the global Irish whiskey and gin markets.
He said: “Irish whiskey has continually been the fastest growing spirit category in the world over the last 10 years, nearly trebling in size. This trend is forecast to continue in the future with Irish Whiskey beginning to approach and indeed overtake sales of Scotch in many international markets. The world gin market has also witnessed phenomenal growth in the last few years yet still has huge potential to grow in markets where gin is still a relatively small category.
“We are launching the Hinch Distillery to provide visitors with a highly differentiated product and experience that couples the production of our quality spirits with a story and heritage. We hope it will become an attraction in its own right and offer guests a real understanding of the skills and methods needed to produce our spirits.”
Dr Cross is no stranger to the drinks industry having rescued Château de La Ligne, a Bordeaux vineyard over 20 years ago and restoring it to its former glory. He has been carrying on the tradition of the estate by producing a variety of classic Bordeaux wines, and to ensure his next venture is every bit as successful, he has appointed an expert team to run the Hinch operation.
He will be the company chairman of Hinch Distillery while Derek Hardy will undertake the role of managing director.
Mr Hardy said: “Hinch Irish Whiskeys and Ninth Wave Gin are already making waves globally. We have a presence in 15 markets including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the US and European countries. Our goal is to double our export markets by the end of 2020 and the timing of the Hinch Distillery opening couldn’t come at a better time for us.
“We want to celebrate our successful products at home, where they are made and invite Northern Ireland to be part of that.”
Executive director of Business & Sector Development at Invest NI, Brian Dolaghan, said: “We are delighted to support Terry and his team in the development of this new distillery and visitor centre. Drinks tourism is a growing sector for Northern Ireland and Hinch Distillery can play a role in expanding the variety of what’s on offer here already.
“As well as our support towards the construction of the distillery and visitor centre, we are also helping the company market its new products. Over 95% of Irish whiskey production is exported so we have been supporting Hinch to explore export markets where they are already seeing good traction.”
The distillery will incorporate a visitor attraction offering associated tours and facilities, able to accommodate over 100,000 visitors per annum.
Belfast born Head Distiller, Aaron Flaherty, who has over 15 years’ experience in the whiskey distilling business, including roles at Bushmills and Scotch Distillery sites, added: “Hinch Distillery is a unique experience producing premium products and this development will validate that and expose the effort and patience that is behind the creation of our five whiskey variants and our Ninth Wave Gin.
“Our Time Collection of whiskeys caters to a range of palates. The taste profiles vary with smooth, smoky and aromatic variations appealing to the discerning whiskey connoisseur and indeed to new customers.
“Our mystical Ninth Wave gin is as equally otherworldly and we’re very proud of the methods that go into making our products. They show that Hinch Distillery is so much more than a drinks producer. We have a distillery with a story and the opening of the site is just our first chapter.”
Hinch Distillery Managing Director, Derek Hardy (left, is pictured with Executive Director of Business & Sector Development at Invest NI, Brian Dolaghan (right).