High spirits in Tullamore

Whiskey distilling is returning to Tullamore after a 60-year break, with the sod turned on a €35m distillery which will have the capacity to produce 1.5m cases per annum, reports this mornings Examiner.

IRISH whiskey, rich in heritage, is the fastest growing spirit category worldwide and is now poised for even greater success.

Investment is expanding as distilleries are being set up across the island and new markets are being secured.

In the process, the sector is playing an important role in boosting Irish agri-food and drink exports, which reached €9bn last year.

The iconic Tullamore D.E.W. brand is itself a global success and a key part in the development of the overall industry.

As the second largest Irish whiskey brand globally, it is enjoying significant growth worldwide.

It is also playing its part in celebrating and renewing the Irish heritage from which it sprung.

Tullamore’s history of distilling whiskey goes back to at least 1782 when the first recorded activity on the site of the former distillery occurred.

After that distillery closed in 1954, the brand went through a number of ownerships as the Irish whiskey industry rationalised.

Now, the Scottish family- owned company behind the brand is about to bring whiskey distilling back to Tullamore.

The sod for a €35m plant being built by William Grant and Sons on a site near the town was turned a few weeks ago.

It will combine traditional distillation practices with the latest in modern and green technologies.

More than 250,000 tonnes of peat and soil is being cleared and moved around the 58-acre site.

That material would fill 47 Olympic-sized swimming pools and is the equivalent weight of around 85% of the population of Ireland.

Capacity of the pot still and malt distillery will be 1.84m litres or 1.5m cases per annum, with scope to increase this significantly over time.

Two warehouses are being constructed initially, which can each store 55,000 casks of whiskey with a combined floor area of 10,000 sq metres.

A total of 2,300 piles totalling more than 21km in length are being driven into the ground.

Some 900 tonnes of structural steel and 9,000 cubic metres of concrete will be used in the project.

About 650,000 man hours will be spent completing the first phase of the development.

And total of 14km of pipeline will bring water from the source to the new site.

It is all far removed from 1829 when the distillery was founded by Michael Molloy in an era when there were thousands of stills dotted around the country.

Four years later, Daniel E Williams, who became owner of the distillery, created the Tullamore whiskey brand, which he shared with the world.

His story and that of Tullamore D.E.W. is told in the visitor centre housed in an old bonded warehouse beside the Grand Canal.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said Irish whiskey has been one of the strongest and most distinctive products in the world.

He praised the respect and understanding shown for that heritage by William Grant and Sons, which employs 90 people in Dublin, Clonmel and Tullamore.

Chief executive Stella David said the company’s investment in Tullamore ensures it can cope with demand as the brand continues to grow globally.

“When we acquired the brand in 2010 we felt it was important to strengthen the link with Tullamore.

“We have done this through the distillery and the new Tullamore D.E.W. Visitor Centre which re-opened last year.

“We are proud to be bringing whiskey distilling back to Tullamore for the first time in 60 years,” she said.

The brand’s rapid growth — it has doubled worldwide sales to almost 850,000 cases since 2005 — prompted the plan for the new distillery.

That growth was driven largely by increased consumer demand for Irish whiskey in the US. It was also due to emerging markets in Germany, Sweden and Eastern Europe.

Together with the expanded visitor centre, which is expected to attract 40,000 people a year, the new Tullamore distillery will provide 25 jobs.

That is in addition to 200 jobs being created during the construction of the plant, which will meet the long-term production demands, currently growing by over 20% annually.

Daniel E Williams, the brand creator, also brought electricity to Tullamore in 1893, had the distillery install the town’s first telephones and introduced motorised transport to the area.

He ran a commercial empire across the midlands with drinks businesses, importing tea, selling seed and grain, and running a network of 26 general stores.

But he is best remembered for Tullamore D.E.W. — a success story worthy of celebration.

Equally fascinating is how the spirit acquired its name — Daniel E Williams marked every bottle produced in his Tullamore distillery with his initials, D. E.W.

And that in turn gave rise to a catchy promotional slogan for the celebrated brand — “Give Every Man His Dew”. Source: Irish Examiner.