Newry distillery plans set to progress with construction tenders issue

Site of the proposed Matt D'Arcy working distillery in Newry. Picture: Mal McCann
Gary McDonald Business Editor

AMBITIOUS proposals by Newry whiskey firm Matt D’Arcy to develop a working distillery, Victorian bar, restaurant and visitor centre in the city are expected to take a further step forward in the coming days with the formal issuing of construction tenders.

The 200-year-old company had been revived in recent years by businessman and historian Michael McKeown, who has since secured a large swathe of the city’s old distillery site in Monaghan Street.

Planning approval for the £7 million proposal had already been granted, but the scheme was held up last year following the onset of the Covid pandemic.

And although the company is reticent to put a time-frame on when contractors might move in, the issuing of tenders suggests workmen could be on the site by summer.

In the meantime the company, first established in 1817 in Newry and which gained a global reputation before closing in 1918, is trying to spread the footprint of its latest whiskey releases.

And it has emerged that its D’Arcy’s Old Irish Whiskey brand enjoyed a spectacular Christmas trading period, with sales topping £100,000.

Michael added: “Our launch was planned for earlier in 2020, but with Covid-19 delays, we didn’t get to the market until mid-November.

“So we are delighted with the response from off licences and their customers. We are now stocked in over 70 outlets across Northern Ireland and hope to announce further stores in the coming weeks.”

He added: “Our initial range includes some limited-edition bottles to celebrate our return.

“The Matt D’Arcy 17-year-old single malt, which was voted best Irish whiskey at two major international competitions in Las Vegas and San Francisco last year, has already become a collector’s item.

“We also brought out an Old Newry whiskey bottle with the tagline ‘since 1144 and before’ to commemorate the fact that Newry is the world’s oldest whiskey manufactory.

“Proof of this claim is laid out in the recently published 'Matt D’Arcy and Old Newry Whiskies', a history book which highlights documentary evidence showing that whiskey production in Newry can be traced back to before the foundation of the Cistercian Monastery founded by Royal Charter in 1144 AD.”

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