Whiskey distilling to be revived in Newry

How the new distillery in Newry will look
Gary McDonald Business Editor

WHISKEY-making is to resume in Newry on the site of a former distillery with a 200-year-old history.

Veteran businessman Michael McKeown (71) has formally submitted plans to build on the old distiller site on Monaghan Street, a central artery of the city and the site of Darcy's Old Irish Whiskey since 1817.

He plans to restore the early 19th century buildings and provide a working distillery, visitors centre, restaurant and an authentic Victorian public house, while also providing space for a theatre and private functions.

The distillery, which will provide a number of new jobs, will have the capacity to produce around 9,000 cases a year of Old Newry Whiskey single malt.

Newry whiskey has been renowned for centuries and can be traced back at least to 1575 and possibly earlier.

McKeown - who two years ago sold off his successful CRASH Services business - is the sole proprietor of the reborn Matthew Darcy & Co Limited.

He has a background in the drinks industry, having been a shareholder in the family business of Reihill-McKeown, which was absorbed into the C&C Group in 1995.

Currently president of Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade, he acquired the Matthew Darcy & Company site in February and has since moved forward with surveying and an architectural study.

"That phase has been completed with the depositing of our planning application with the Newry, Mourne & Down District Council, and we have ambitions to return distilling to the city," he said.

"We will now intensify our efforts to recruit a master distiller of ability and reputation to achieve our target of 9,000 cases a year," he added.

"We will market blends of purchased whiskey from other sources under the attractive brand names which we have registered and which are all inherited, including Blackthorn, The Native, Hand-in-Hand and Killeavey Cream."

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