The Punt: Whiskey back in the old jar-o

Businessman Shane Braniff with his Dunville whiskey

YET another historic Irish whiskey label is being dusted down as global demand for the spirit continues to revive.

Businessman Shane Braniff has begun sending consignments of Dunville to customers in Britain, France, Germany and the US – 80 years after it ceased production.

The new Dunville Irish Whiskey is being produced at Echlinville Distillery in Kircubbin, Co Down, which opened last summer on Braniff's farm.

The founder of Feckin Irish Whiskey, produced by Cooley in Louth until it was taken over by Beam, was granted the first new licence in the North to distil whiskey in 125 years.

With the backing of Invest NI, £10m has been poured into the project, which will create 15 jobs as production ramps up.

Mr Braniff has big plans for Dunville, described as a premium dark golden brown Irish whiskey blend of 20pc malt and 80pc finest grain, matured in American oak casks that infuse a toasty and vanilla aroma.

"Bringing one of the best-known Irish whiskey brands back to life is tremendously exciting," said the managing director and founder of Echlinville Distillery.

"Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the north of Ireland was the biggest producer of Irish whiskey worldwide."

Dunville was established in 1801 and built Belfast's biggest distillery, Royal Irish Distillers, in 1869. It was shipped worldwide until Prohibition in the 1920s. Production ceased in 1935.


NOTHING comes for free, as every good capitalist knows. So you can imagine our surprise to hear that the Government is considering plans to hand over empty buildings to entrepreneurs, for nothing, out of the kindness of its heart – or let's face it – the kindness of our hearts as long-suffering taxpayers.

We're all for job-creation and encouraging start-ups, but we don't quite understand a system that rewards new companies while the rest of the business world hands over rent every month.

Equally surprising was the man behind the idea – 'Dragons' Den' investor Sean O'Sullivan. US-born Mr O'Sullivan is the consummate capitalist. He has founded several tech firms and is managing director of SOSventures International. He's also the chairperson of the Entpreneurship Forum, the working group set up by the Department of Jobs to figure out how Ireland can improve its start-up scene.

While the empty offices proposal put forward by the forum certainly has a noble aim, it doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Mr O'Sullivan hardly built his empire by giving things away for free. Nor does the US, his first home, favour generous government subsidies for private companies.


FRENCH President Francois Hollande has turned to the global business community with an enticing offer – come up with an innovative business idea and the French government will help pay for you to carry it out on French soil.

The world-wide innovation challenge was launched in December. French and foreign entrepreneurs have been invited to submit projects and business plans and will get the opportunity to win grants of up to €200,000 to complete chosen projects in France.

Staff at the French embassy in Dublin are encouraging Irish entrepreneurs to throw their hat in the ring – essentially enticing them to up sticks to France.

There will be two intermediate closing dates of January 30 and March 31 and the first phase of the search will close when 100 projects have been selected.

Companies whose projects are selected will receive financial support in the form of grants of up to €200,000 per project.

From September 1, support will be provided for the development of around 30 projects.

In some instances, this support might be provided in the form of grants of up to €2m.

Further details can be found at