Carlow’s new Walsh Distillery is open for production and has created 55 new jobs for the county. The €25m distillery at Royal Oak is Carlow’s first whiskey-making facility in more than 200 years.
The new facility will have the capacity to produce eight million bottles of whiskey annually. However, given the length of time needed to age whiskey, bottles produced here will only become available in 2019.
The new Carlow plant comes as a result of the increased demand for Irish whiskeys around the world. The company now hopes to increase exports and sales in many different markets. Expansion in Asia, particularly China and India, is planned. The Walsh Distillery sells two whiskeys, The Irishman and Writers Tears, in 40 countries. Writers Tears won the award of Best Irish Blend Under €50 in the 2013 Irish Whiskey Awards, and The Irishman won Best Irish Whiskey Brand of the Year at the highly accredited New York International Spirits Competition in 2015.
As well as a jobs boost, the facility should increase tourist numbers in the area. The distillery is located on an 18th century estate and has 40 acres of pastoral land. A new visitor centre is being developed and it is hoped that around 75,000 people will visit each year.
The Walsh Distillery should attract whiskey-lovers from across Ireland and the world – it is the only independent Irish whiskey distillery producing all three styles of Irish whiskey: pot still, malt and grain.
There new facility has increased the number of working distilleries in Ireland to 15. However, a further 22 new ones are planned to satiate the international appetite for Irish uisce beatha.