Food & Drink

Echlinville Distillery launches new whiskeys with a bang

Echlinville Distillery owner Shane Braniff in a tank
Echlinville Distillery owner Shane Braniff launched their first single estate whiskeys from a tank

Echlinville Distillery owner Shane Braniff launched his first single estate whiskeys from a tank – and then hit his sales target in rapid-fire time.

Braniff drove the former military vehicle as part of the launch night at Ards peninsula distillery for the inaugural whiskeys under its own name, having established its reputation by reviving the Dunville’s brand over the past decade.

‘Echlinville– The Beginning’ features a pair of exceptional seven-year-old double distilled pot still and single malt whiskeys. The two-bottle release, both 500ml, was limited to 750 sets, each in a stunning presentation box priced at £350 / €395, with all their own website allocation selling out incredibly quickly on Saturday morning. A small number of bottles went to selected retailers including Celtic Whiskey Shop, James J. Fox Dublin, Carry Out Killarney, Green Acres of Wexford, Irish Malts and Weisshaus Shop, but these are expected to be snapped up too.

Echlinville became the first single estate farm distillery in Ireland when it began production in 2013. It was one of the first in a new wave of distilleries that led the beginning of the Irish whiskey renaissance. Its opening marked a new chapter in Northern Ireland distilling as the first new distillery in the north for more than 125 years.

Located on the Echlinville Estate just outside Kircubbin, county Down, Echlinville also produces premium gin, vodka and poitín including Weavers Spirits, Jawbox Gin, Echlinville Gin, and Bán Poitín.

Its director of whiskey Jarlath Watson said that its focus over the next 10 years would be on bringing Echlinville whiskeys “to the top table”, having already garnered many awards for its Dunville’s sherry-finished malt whiskeys.

Speaking about the launch of Echlinville – The Beginning, owner Braniff said: “This is a momentous day for everyone at Echlinville as we unveil our inaugural Echlinville Single Estate Whiskey release. A whiskey that is inherent to our land. A whiskey that values provenance, community, tradition and authenticity.

“For more than a decade we have been on this journey to create whiskey that is rooted in this place we call home – the beautiful Ards Peninsula on the shores of Strangford Lough.

Echlinville– The Beginning is a reflection of everything that is great about this small corner of Ireland - the fertile soil, temperate micro-climate, saline air and the people who crafted these whiskeys from the ground up.”

The inaugural Echlinville expressions were patiently curated from a vatting of carefully selected seven- to nine-year-old whiskeys distilled from barley grown, harvested and floor malted on the distillery farm.

Their seven-year-old double distilled bourbon cask single pot still whiskey is described as showcasing the distillery character, with notes of sweet vanilla cream soda, fresh kiwi, papaya fruits and fragrant pine with menthol, leading to toasted almonds, ginger and warming white pepper spice, perfectly balanced and enveloped in luxurious mouth-coating pot still creaminess.

Their seven-year-old double distilled single malt whiskey, matured in bourbon and virgin American oak casks, offers soft orchard fruits, fresh citrus, herbal notes and wild meadow honey, followed by citrus fruits, peach, blood orange, red berry, latte coffee, chocolate and salted almonds, giving way to a finish of cedar, clove, tobacco, ginger and cinnamon spice.

Echlinville procured the historic Ards Maltings building in 2023 with plans to restore malting processes on site and further expand the distillery’s existing malting operation.

Braniff noted how the local barley imparts its flavour to the distillates, saying: “The Ards Peninsula has long been regarded as one of the finest barley growing regions in Ireland. Local farmers would have historically supplied barley to Ards Maltings, which provided premium malt to some of the country’s biggest distilleries and breweries.

“The area has a proud, but sometimes forgotten, whiskey heritage. We are delighted to have revived lost traditions, restoring malting and distilling in the Ards Peninsula to create a whiskey that once again has a true sensitivity to the place where it is made.

“Echlinville Whiskey has provenance, character and flavour that can be found nowhere else. This is a unique place with unique people and unique spirit, and that is at the very heart of our single Malt and pot still whiskeys.

“This release is the culmination of a decade of hard work, passion and perseverance by a dedicated team of people, unwavering in their commitment to conceive a spirit from the ground up, rooted in locality and crafted with patience and authenticity.

“We believe in doing things the right way, not the easy way. We floor malt our barley by hand, as our whiskey forefathers would have done. We distil slowly, maximising copper contact to achieve a balance between complex character and delicate flavour.

“We dunnage mature our whiskey the traditional way on an earthen floor. This approach earned us a reputation for excellence and the respect of our friends and colleagues within the Irish whiskey family.”