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Division of US group Alltech to create fifth largest distillery here

AN American firm is to set up a whiskey business in Ireland, in a move that will create the fifth largest distillery in the country.

Alltech Spirits, a division of the animal health giant Alltech, said it will set up in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, with the first barrels being laid down in November.

The first malt whiskey is expected to be bottled in 2015.

The company said it will ship two stills to Bagenalstown, where they will be housed in the Carlow Brewing Company, a craft brewery in the town best known for its 'O'Hara's' range of beers and stouts.

Alltech president Pearse Lyons said the move was a "momentous event" for the business and would see the creation of a "new Irish whiskey with Kentucky flair".

Mr Lyons also claimed a family connection to the industry, saying five generations of his relatives had worked as coopers, while he and his son have PhDs in skills related to brewing.

Although the company is best known in the animal sciences field, this is not its first foray into the drinks business. It already has a brewing business in Kentucky, where it makes 'Town Branch Bourbon' and 'Pearse Lyons Reserve Single Malt Whiskey'.

A multimillion dollar distillery is scheduled to open there this month. The company has a small brewing operation in Lexington as well.

Alltech's decision to invest in Ireland comes amid renewed growth for the whiskey sector here.

Irish Distillers' Jameson brand posted record sales during the first half of 2012, while the US giant Beam bought out John Teeling's Cooley Distillery earlier this year.

The company did not reveal how many jobs would be created, but it already employs close to 80 staff at its bioscience operation in Dunboyne, Co Meath.

Alltech is focused mainly on animal health and nutrition. It opened its Irish office in 1981.

Irish Independent