Business

Derry distillery's Quiet Man worth shouting about

MILESTONE: Ciaran Mulgrew with 'An Fear Giuin' or 'The Quiet Man' whiskey named in memory of his father John

EXCLUSIVE

THE first new distillery to be built in Derry in 150 years is set to launch its first whiskeys.

Niche Drinks is launching two new products under in a move managing director Ciaran Mulgrew has hailed as a "milestone" for the firm.

The company has produced an eight-year-old single malt and a blended Irish whiskey which will be available under The Quiet Man brand - so called in memory of Mr Mulgrew's father.

The drink will be distributed in Northern Ireland by Drinks Inc.

Niche Drinks has been making and exports from Rossdowney Road in Derry for more than three decades.

The firm used a quarter of all milk produced in the north west to make its range of St Brendan's Irish Cream liqueurs which are exported to the US, Scandinavia, Russia and throughout Europe.

The company also supplies Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Aldi and Asda.

Mr Mulgrew said: "Fom London, England to London, Ontario and many places in between, we have been selling cream liqueurs manufactured in Northern Ireland for over three decades, but we have tended to do it quietly and without much fuss.

"For a long time now the company has wanted to get into the Irish whiskey business and for me personally it has been much longer held ambition.

"My father, John Mulgrew was a barman who worked for over 50 years in various bars around Belfast and before that in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.

"Fom a very young age he would bring me into work with him and so I grew up loving the sounds and smells of the bar, the craic, the laughter and the smell of the whiskey.

"I always thought that if I ever got to make my own whiskey I would name it after my father. In 50 years as a barman he saw a lot of things and heard a lot of stories, but like all good bartenders, he was true to his code and told no tales. He was 'The Quiet Man' or as they say in the Irish 'An Fear Ciúin'.

“There is an image of my father on the front label taken at some time in the late 1950s when he was working in Kelly's Cellars in Belfast and it is a very emotional thing for me to see the whiskey beginning to appear on local shelves as well further afield in Canada, the US, Germany, South Africa.”

Niche Drink's facility brought distilling back to Derry for the first time in 90 years.

Before prohibition was introduced in the United States, whiskey distilled by Watts Distillery in the city was exported throughout the world.

However, the company, which was based at Abbey Street in Derry's Bogside, ceased trading after a strike in 1921.

Niche Drinks has secured planning permission for its own distillery and visitor centre in Derry and when completed it will be the first new build distillery in the city for over 150 years.

Their plans come amid a distillery revival across the north.

Last year, Echlinville Distillery in Kircubbin, Co Down, was granted the first licence to distil spirits in Northern Ireland in more than 130 years.

Meanwhile, a consortium run by Belfast businessman and millionaire lottery winner Peter Lavery has turned part of the former Crumlin Road jail into a whiskey distillery.

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