New gastropub, gin school and visitor centre for Moira

Stuart and Barbara Hughes, owners of Hughes Craft Distillery with Derick Wilson, business development manager at Ulster Bank
Gareth McKeown

AN award-winning local drinks company is creating a new gastropub, gin school and visitor centre in Moira, adding 21 new jobs.

Lisburn-based Hughes Craft Distillery, behind the multi-award-winning RubyBlue range of fruit liqueurs and Ireland's first potato-distilled vodka, plan to open the first part of its new establishment in the coming months at the former home of The Four Trees bar.

'The Stillhouse' will create an initial 15 jobs when the gastropub part of the venture opens, bringing the business up to 21 staff members. Recruitment for a number of roles, including bartenders and chefs, is ongoing and a further six roles are expected to be created by Easter.

Owners Stuart and Barbara Hughes also plan to relocate their bottling and distilling operations to the new site early next year, along with the addition of a new interactive visitor centre and gin school, which will be open to the public and available for private hire.

Offering the chance to see the brewing and distilling process close up, the visitor centre's dedicated gin school will allow connoisseurs of the drink to produce their own bespoke spirits.

The small-batch spirits company currently exports its award-winning drinks range to a number of key markets, including Europe, Australia, Asia and the Middle East

Barbara Hughes said the company has outgrown its current premises.

"We wanted to find a setting to really showcase our craft. Moira was an obvious choice, for both its picturesque setting and ideal location for distribution links," she said.

“The food and drink scene in Northern Ireland is buzzing and we're proud to showcase our skills, crafts, produce and exports on a global stage. With the creation of our experiential visitor centre, gin school and gastropub we're creating a true food tourism hotspot to showcase the best local produce complemented with our small batch spirits."

The major investment is being supported by Ulster Bank and business development manager Derick Wilson described it as an "exciting new chapter" for the growing firm.

“Ulster Bank is delighted to support not only the development of the new gastropub and visitor centre, but to support Stuart and Barbara as they relocate their bottling and distilling facilities to the new site, providing them with capacity for future growth.”

Hughes Craft Distillery supply their range of spirits to a number of award-winning restaurants in Northern Ireland, including the acclaimed Wine & Brine, James Street South, and Michelin star-winning restaurants, OX and Deanes.

The company also supplies local supermarkets, including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and SuperValu, as well as upmarket department store, Fortnum & Mason, in Piccadilly, London.

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