Saturday 23 March 2019

Gin maker Copeland Spirits looks to whiskey as it gets green light for new distillery as part of €750,000 investment

Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Irish gin maker Copeland Spirits has just signed a 125-year lease on a site for its new distillery and visitor centre.

The £600,000 (€750,000) investment from the Co Down firm is also expected to fulfil its ambition to move into new categories, including whiskey.

Following recent planning application approval, Copeland will move its operations from its current Saintfield premises to the harbour town of Donaghadee.

The new development will transform the site of an old community hall and picture house; and the finished distillery will overlook the Copeland Islands and lighthouse from which the brand takes its name.

Established in 2016 by Gareth Irvine following a successful crowdfunding, Copeland is the only Northern Irish gin that is currently being stocked in Aldi Ireland.

The now 26-year-old Irvine said that, since the brand's launch just over two years ago, establishing a distillery and bringing production closer to the Copeland Islands has been the main ambition.

"We’ve worked incredibly hard over the last two years to make this a reality and now that planning has been approved and construction is well underway, it’s both rewarding and motivating to see the site being restored to its former glory as the hub of Donaghadee," he said.

Local company Urban Property Solutions is overseeing the construction of the new distillery at the 6,500 square-foot site, with the official opening expected to be in mid-summer 2019.  

New Head Distiller William Stafford will be responsible for the day to day distilling of gin, as well as future spirits such as the brand’s plans for whiskey.

"The [whiskey] category offers more than enough potential for a new player and our distillery will bring something fresh, energetic and imaginative to it," said Irvine.

"Our flavoured range of 37.8pc gins are already a huge success across Northern Ireland, wider UK, Ireland and Europe so we feel it’s the right time to bring something new to the market."

It is understood that the distillery will be in keeping with the original site by maintaining as many original features of the historic building as possible.

Irvine said that he expects the development with create new jobs and bring additional tourism to this part of Northern Ireland. 

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