Copeland Spirits, a Food NI member, is o develop a distillery and visitor centre in Donaghadee. The company’s move marks its 125-year commitment to the area, its plans to develop its existing gin range and its ambition to move into new categories including whiskey, writes Sam Butler.
Work on the 6,500 square-foot site has now begun, with the project due to revitalise what was a former community centre and cinema, unoccupied for approximately 20 years.
The £600,000 investment managed by Co. Down-based company, Urban Property Solutions, is expected to last for approximately six months with the official opening anticipated mid-summer 2019.
The new premises will include a visitor centre, events space and fully-operational gin and whiskey distillery supporting the brand to build on its current fruit infused gin portfolio and introduce new brand offerings from later this year.
The distillery will be in keeping with the original site by maintaining as many original features of the historic building as possible. Found on the main floor of the distillery will be a coveted 3.3 metre-high still made by the world-renowned German coppersmith, Arnold Holstein.
Earlier this year, Copeland welcomed their new Head Distiller, William Stafford, who will be responsible for the day to day distilling of gin, as well as future spirits such as the brand’s plans for whiskey. Stafford’s extensive experience coupled with his passion to create unique blends of premium spirits will see The Copeland Distillery break new boundaries in the spirit industry.
Along with increasing production and operational roles to fulfil its ambitious category developments, the finished project will also create employment in additional sectors such as retail and events.
On completion, Copeland will move its operations from its current Saintfield premises to the Donaghadee site. With such a significant lease on the building, The Copeland Distillery intends to craft its lasting brand legacy from the site and become an integral part of the Donaghadee community. The brand will share the harbour town’s rich history throughout the visitor centre, attracting tourism to the area via the domestic traveller and also US, Chinese, European and Australasian visitors, where Irish craft continues to grow in popularity.
The significant investment not only highlights the brand’s on-going commitment to Northern Ireland but also its exponential growth since it was officially established just over two years ago by now 26-year-old, Gareth Irvine (pictured).
Irvine said: “Since our launch in 2016, establishing a distillery and bringing our production closer to the Copeland Islands has been our main ambition. We’ve worked incredibly hard over the last two years to make this a reality and now that planning has been approved and construction is well underway, it’s both rewarding and motivating to see the site being restored to its former glory as the hub of Donaghadee.
“We’re particularly excited to have partnered with Urban Property Solutions, to oversee the build. This outfit is incredibly trusted by the local community and it understands our vision to retain as much of the current building a possible, while also ensuring the Copeland Islands and adjacent lighthouse can be enjoyed.
“As a brand, we are incredibly committed to our heritage and we’re proud that our investment will create new jobs and bring additional tourism to this idyllic part of Northern Ireland.
“Our long-term ambition, strengthened by this announcement, is to create a world-class distillery, with a wide portfolio of spirits that offers the consumer, at home and abroad, a taste of Northern Ireland’s craftsmanship and history in the most authentic way possible. Establishing our permanent home in Donaghadee is the new start of this journey, and with a 125-year lease on the building we envisage being part of Northern Ireland’s future story for quite some time.
“We are incredibly excited to move into whiskey – an industry that is targeting global sales of 12 million cases by 2020 and with growing interest from new markets for us including Russia. The category offers more than enough potential for a new player and our distillery will bring something fresh, energetic and imaginative to it. Our flavoured range of 37.8 percent gins are already a huge success across Northern Ireland, wider UK, Ireland and Europe so we feel it’s the right time to bring something new to the market.
“With so much local history and heritage driving our journey, it’s very exciting to know that our new home, right on the harbour over-looking the Copeland Islands and surrounding waters, will be the starting point for every bottle of Copeland be it whiskey or gin, as it sails its way across the world,” he adds.