Copeland Spirits signs 125-year lease in Co. Down

Co. Down company Copeland Spirits has signed a 125-year lease for a distillery and visitor centre in the harbour town of Donaghadee. It follows the approval of a planning application to redevelop the site.

The attraction is expected to open during the summer and will become the permanent home for the company’s growing spirits portfolio.

The firm sources the local fruit botanicals for its gin from growers in Co. Down.

As well as developing its existing gin range, the company also plans to move into new categories including whiskey.

Work on the 6,500ft² site has now begun, with the project due to revitalise the former community centre and picture-house, which has been unoccupied for around 20 years.

The plans represent an investment of around £600,000.

The new premises will include a visitor centre, events space and a fully-operational gin and whiskey distillery supporting the brand to build on its current 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.

The main floor of the distillery will include a 3.3m-high still made by the world-renowned German coppersmith, Arnold Holstein.

Earlier this year, Copeland welcomed their new head distiller William Stafford. It’s hoped 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.

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.

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 as possible, while also ensuring the Copeland Islands and adjacent lighthouse can be enjoyed.

“Our long-term ambition, strengthened by today’s 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 here 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% gins are already a huge success across Northern Ireland, the wider UK, Ireland and Europe so we feel it’s the right time to bring something new to the market.”