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Sod Turning A Huge Success

Carlow, Ireland


  • €25 million Walsh Whiskey Distillery will be unique in producing all three types of Irish whiskey under one roof – pot, grain and malt
  • New world-class distillery and visitor centre will create 55 jobs at Royal Oak, County Carlow and 70 temporary construction jobs
  • Walsh Whiskey Distillery’s distribution partners from 12 countries attend ceremony at Royal Oak

Royal Oak, Carlow – 11th September 2014: A return to whiskey distilling in Carlow and the South-East, after absences of over 200 and 100 years respectively, took a big step forward today. As the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ann Phelan TD and 200 guests looked on, the founders of the independent Walsh Whiskey Distillery, Bernard & Rosemary Walsh, today turned the sod at Royal Oak, County Carlow as construction commenced on their €25million world-class, craft Irish whiskey distillery by the banks of the River Barrow.

Located on an 18th century estate comprising 40 acres of pastoral land, the distillery will be the largest independent whiskey distillery in Ireland. Its two production lines, using both pot stills and column stills, will give Walsh Whiskey the capacity to produce 500,000 cases (two million litres of pure alcohol (LPA’s) or 6 million bottles) of whiskey annually. The ceremony was also attended by 12 of Walsh Whiskey’s international distribution partners from Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland & The United States of America.

Once commissioned, in early 2016, the distillery will produce Walsh Whiskey’s critically acclaimed, award winning, ultra-premium Irish whiskey brands – The Irishman and Writerṣ Tears. The distillery will be unique as the only distillery in Ireland to produce all three types of Irish whiskey in one still house, namely – pot, malt, grain.

The development will also include two maturation houses with capacity for 60,000 barrels and a visitor experience, incorporating the 18thcentury Holloden House, which will cater for 75,000 ‘whiskey tourists’ by 2021.

The operations at Royal Oak will create a total of 55 permanent and part-time jobs in the Carlow area, over 5 years, where the whiskies will be distilled, crafted and aged. The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, through Enterprise Ireland, is supporting the project. The construction process will provide up to 70 jobs during the 18 month development phase.

International Distribution Partners

Led by Mr Augusto Reina, CEO of Walsh Whiskey Distillery’s strategic partner Illva Saronno, there was a strong attendance by the company’s international partners to witness the sod-turning ceremony and visit Royal Oak for the first time. Also attending were representatives of Palm Bay from the United States; Emporia from Britain; Woodman form Canada; Interbrands representing Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden; Dugas, Le Whisky de Monde and Terior from France; Schlumberger from Germany; Agroseko from Russia and Haecky from Switzerland.

The founder of Walsh Whiskey Distillery, Mr Bernard Walsh said: “This is a very significant day for everyone associated with Walsh Whiskey and our goal to be recognised as the leading independent distiller of premium, craft, Irish whiskey in the world. We are now 15 years in business and we are very grateful to the thousands of people across the world that choose our whiskies and also to all of our international partners who make sure that Irishman and Writers Tears are available in 30 countries and growing.”

He added: “Royal Oak is a very special and wonderful place to create world-class whiskey. We are proud to be able to create this distillery in our family’s home county. We will make a significant contribution to the local economy through employment, rates and of course the purchase of, on average, 5,000 tonnes of local grain every year. We hope that the people of Royal Oak, Carlow, the South-East and Ireland will be proud of what we do and how we do it. I look forward to us commencing production in early 2016.”

Environmental Considerations

Walsh Whiskey Distillery has prioritised environmental responsibility in the design of its operations including:

  • By product from the production process (draff and pot ale) will be recycled back into the farming industry as animal feed.
  • Cooling water from the distillation process will be recycled back to the river.
  • The entire facility will be heated using its own production energy generated by the whiskey production processes. This heat supply will also heat Holloden House, which gates back to c.1760, when it is fully restored in a few years time.
  • The building materials used will be sympathetic to the environs. The buildings are being roofed in slate roof in keeping with Holloden House, copper fittings are being applied, the warehouses will be clad in green and creeper plants trained up the walls and the roadways will be sunken to limit it’s visibility in what is a pastoral rural setting
  • Royal Oak is home to seven species of oak tree and Bernard Walsh plans to develop an oak arboretum by planting more species under the guidance of consultant horticulturalist, Daphne Levinge Shackleton.
  • A stone wall restoration program will also be implemented.
  • The Walsh Whiskey Distillery Design Team

WWD Project Engineer: Frank O’Rourke.
Distillery Consultant: Stuart Nickerson, The Malt Whisky Co. Ltd.
Project Managers, Architects, Fire Safety Engineers, Conservation Architects: Bluett & O’Donoghue: Director in charge; James O’Donoghue.
Quantity surveyors: McCullough Lupton Quinn – Project QS; Shane McCullough.
Civil/ Structural & Engineers: Fearon O’Neill Rooney. John Rooney and Jose Poveda.
Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: J.V. Tierney & Co. Director: Rory Burke.