Echlinville Distillery secures historic future at Ards Maltings with Bank of Ireland UK support

The Echlinville Distillery has secured the future of an historic building which was once one of Ireland’s largest malting houses, supplying malted barley to distilleries and breweries around Ireland.

With the support of Bank of Ireland UK, Echlinville has purchased the Ards Maltings building on the Portaferry Road just outside Newtownards, with a view to restoring the malting process on site and increasing their capacity to malt locally produced barley using traditional  methods.

The £5 million investment means that Echlinville will be the only distillery in Ireland with the capacity to produce, malt, ferment and distil their spirit from field to glass, with local investment an important pillar of the business growth plans. While the distillery team currently floor malt their barley on the distillery farm, this latest development will enable Echlinville to malt barley on an industrial scale.

Shane Braniff, owner of The Echlinville Distillery explains: “Echlinville was the first new distillery in Northern Ireland for more than 125 years when we received our licence and casked our first spirit back in2013.  We’ve always been proud of our roots here in the Ards Peninsula and we complete every stage of the production process from the ground up on site at our distillery, from growing and harvesting the barley on our family farm, right through to hand labelling and bottling the finest spirits that we produce.

“Irish whiskey is the world’s fastest growing spirits category and locally we have a long history of quality whiskey production. The Ards Peninsula has historically been known as one of the finest grain growing regions in Ireland, so it’s no coincidence that Ards Maltings was established at the northern end of the Peninsula, malting barley from the surrounding farms and becoming one of the country’s largest malting houses.

“In its day, Ards Malting provided malted barley to distilleries and breweries around Ireland, including such companies as Guinness, Bushmills and Comber Distilleries - the home of Old Comber Whiskey, a brand that we revived and now produce at Echlinville. We are delighted to be able to bring that particular story full circle.

“Ards Maltings is among the Ards’ most iconic buildings, standing proudly on the Northern shore of Strangford Lough and welcoming people to the Peninsula. We are excited to be able to restore the building for the purpose for which it was first built while continuing on our journey to put County Down back on the world whiskey map. Our focus has always been on providing quality, exceptional flavour and instilling excellence from field to glass in the production of the finest quality spirits, and Ards Maltings will play an important role in the future growth of our business.

“The team at Bank of Ireland UK have been strong supporters of our business as it has grown over the years and take the time to understand our plans for business development offering support, guidance and the right financial products to support our ambitions.”

Gavin North, Senior Business Manager at Bank of Ireland UK said: “Shane and the team at Echlinville Distillery have been quietly leading the regeneration of quality local whiskey production and their pursuit of excellence in every aspect is admired and recognised by the significant international awards they have achieved to date.

“We’re pleased to have provided the funding to support this next phase of their sustainable business plan and look forward to working closely with the team as they continue to achieve success locally and globally, placing The Echlinville Distillery firmly on the internationally acclaimed whiskey tourism map.”

L-R Gavin North, Senior Business Manager, Bank of Ireland UK, Shane Braniff, owner, The Echlinville Distillery, Niall Devlin, Head of Business Banking, Bank of Ireland UK