New Slane Castle distillery home for whiskey favourite Jack Daniel's
The owner of the Jack Daniel's brand is to build its first new distillery outside the US at Ireland's historic Slane Castle.
Lord Henry Mountcharles sold the family's whiskey company to American drinks giant Brown-Forman earlier this year with the company now planning a €50m (€44m) investment to convert stables on the Co Meath estate.
The new distillery is due to open by the end of next year, employing 25 people.
"This is a great coming together of two historic families - the Browns of Kentucky and the Conynghams of Slane," said Lord Henry, the eighth Marquess Conyngham.
"We are very proud to join forces to bring exciting new Irish whiskeys to the world. The commencement of work on the distillery is just a first step in developing a new Irish whiskey brand and welcoming guests to the new distillery."
The new brand of Slane Whiskey will hit the market in 2017, initially using high-quality whiskey bought from other Irish distilleries and finished to Slane's recipes and specifications.
Blended, pot still and single grain Irish whiskeys will begin maturing when the conversion of the 18th century stables is complete and it will have the potential to produce more than 600,000 cases a year for the premium markets.
A visitor centre is also being built.
Irish whiskey is one of the country's fastest growing export sectors, accounting for more than a quarter of all drinks exports and worth more than €300m.
A Government strategy aims to grow Irish whiskey's global market share from 4% to 12% by 2030.
American ambassador to Ireland Kevin F O'Malley signed the first cask to be filled from the distillery.
"There are so many links between Ireland and the great state of Kentucky - people, music, horses and a great tradition of making the finest whiskeys," he said.
The Brown-Forman Corporation owns the world-renowned Jack Daniel's brand, Southern Comfort, Finlandia and Woodford Reserve, among others, and employs nearly 4,200 staff.