New €7m distillery is approved for Waterford

Planning permission has been approved to construct a distillery on the site of The Old Mill former woollen plant in Kilmacthomas, Waterford.

When up and running, Gortinore Distillers & Co hopes to produce a million bottles of whiskey while creating 15 jobs. It will be Waterford’s’ third such facility alongside Waterford and Blackwater distilleries.

Situated 20km from Dungarvan on the banks of the River Mahon, the mill dates from the 1850s and processed wool until 1920. It then housed Flahavan’s Oatmeal and remained that company’s grain storehouse until 1995. Gortinore acquired the lease from Waterford Council in 2016.

Founded by cousins Aidan and Lisa Mehigan in2014, Gortinore launched Natterjack whiskey – named after Ireland’s only indigenous frog- last year. Gortinore currently buys in its whiskey before ageing it in bonded warehouses. Registered in Dublin and backed by Bord Bia, the company distributes to the home market, Britain, Europe, America and China.

Aidan, a former hedge fund manager, says the new venture is “part of our strategy to future-proof our supply chain” and will facilitate“ playing with small-batch limited editions and experimenting with local produce”.

The building will house three copper pot stills alongside warehouse space for whiskey casks.

The CEO says the old mill’s character will be subsumed into its new product, including the “re-using of pitch pine from the old conveyor system in the tasting room”. The company will strive to be carbon neutral, he adds.

Waterford firm dhbArchitects are the architects while Lafferty Architects will project manage the estimated €7m development that is being funded by private investors, the EII scheme and banks.

The first phase will cost €1.5m and includes site cleaning and removal of asbestos. Stage two involves distillery installation while the final stage will focus on developing a visitor centre and rack house.

Work is due to commence in 2021 with the first bottles hitting the shelves in 2025/6.