Northern Ireland’s only single-estate distillery has announced a £9 million expansion plan as it expands its facilities in the Ards Peninsula in a bid to increase production and grow its brands globally.

The Echlinville Distillery in Kircubbin, Co. Down, distils and bottles a range of premium and super-premium Irish whiskey and gin.

This investment will create 36 new jobs and help the firm grow its export sales tenfold over the next five years.

Making the announcement, Invest Northern Ireland chief executive Kevin Holland said: “Since establishing in 2012, Echlinville Distillery has developed a number of well-established brands which are making their mark on the international whiskey and gin market. This investment will enable it to grow further and develop its portfolio of award-winning products.

It is impressive to see a company scale so quickly in such a short period of time. We have assisted its trade activities, recently supporting it to secure a distribution agreement in Canada.

“The company’s Dunville whiskey is now on the shelves of almost 900 stores across Canada. Our partnership approach is clearly working and I look forward to seeing Echlinville’s export ambitions continuing to reap rewards.”

Shane Braniff, owner of Echlinville Distillery, said: “This investment will help us to substantially increase our production capacity and grow our export sales tenfold over the next five years.

We are adding capacity in distillation, bottling, labelling, storage and brand development, all of which are key to further establishing our brands in major international markets including Russia and the US.

Invest NI has offered Echlinville £659,000 of support towards the purchasing of new equipment, the extension of its storage facilities to meet anticipated demand for its products and the creation of 36 jobs.

‘Field-to-glass traceability’

Braniff added: “As Northern Ireland’s first farm distillery, our whiskey has ‘field-to-glass’ traceability – something that is increasingly important in the global food and drink industry.

“We have built a strong reputation based on that approach and the quality of our products. Irish whiskey is recognised as the world’s fastest-growing spirits category, which is giving us a great foundation upon which to build our export business with the help of this funding from Invest NI.

Every bottle that leaves our distillery features our address in Kircubbin and tells of our roots in the Ards Peninsula.

“Alongside increasing exports around the world, we also hope to raise awareness of what this part of Ireland has to offer and attract more visitors to the area with the development of a dedicated visitor centre.

“We look forward to continued growth in the years ahead and I would like to thank Invest NI for its continued support throughout our journey so far.”