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Malt whiskey production commences at Rademon

Rademon Estate Distillery has begun production of an Irish malt whiskey. Fiona, who with her husband David founded the distillery three years ago to produce Shortcross Gin, explains their ambition

Fiona Boyd-Armstrong Rademon Estate Distillery

Based in County Down, Northern Ireland, Rademon Estate Distillery has revealed the first casks of its first small batch whiskey have been sealed and production is under way, with 100 barrels expected to be casked within the first year. 

Rademon Estate Distillery has made made its mark in the burgeoning craft spirits market since its launch in 2012 by husband and wife team Fiona and David Boyd-Armstrong. This latest phase in the development of the distillery is the result of a £1.5m investment to date, while the distillery’s continued expansion over the next three years will involve a total investment of over £4m.

“The research and development behind the creation of our Irish Whiskey has been extensive and the valuable support from Invest NI has helped us reach this exciting stage. We are proud to announce this project and that this will be amongst the first Irish Whiskeys to be distilled in Northern Ireland,” says Fiona.

“All aspects of production for the new Irish malt whiskey, from grain to glass, will be performed on site with no third party spirit being used.  The whiskey will be matured in a variety of casks, which we hope will allow new and innovative flavours and aromas to be created and water from the estate’s own well will be used.

“We are expanding our team from four to eight, with four new posts to be filled imminently and a further two in the pipeline, which will bring our team to 10.

"Most of our gin sales are presently in Ireland but with this expansion we plan to expect further expansion into European, North America, Asia, Australia - worldwide markets."

She adds that they are aware that while there are not many Irish gins on the market there are lots of Irish whiskeys, however, she says “as the business develops we are seeking to develop our skills and create new products.  Entering the whiskey market allows us to become part of the fastest growing spirits category globally and provides an exciting opportunity for us to expand the sales of our products.

“The current Irish whiskey offering," she explains, "is dominated by pot still and grain whiskies.  To differentiate ourselves we are creating an Irish malt whiskey, a style of Irish whiskey that is under represented in the market. There are less than ten working distilleries in Ireland, many of which produce a brand for third parties who are a brand and not a distillery, this is in comparison to Scotland which has 120 whiskey distilleries. Irish whiskey as a sector grew exponentially last year; it was the fastest growing spirit in the world.

 “We will be the third distillery to be operational in Northern Ireland in over 125 years. Our distillery will produce small batch hand-crafted whiskey and will be estate; it is our intention to use grain from our own estate.  We are creating an Irish malt whiskey, a style of Irish whiskey that we believe is under represented on the market.  We are also exploring the possibilities of using cask varieties that will aid us in creating new flavour profiles.”

It will, of course, be at least three, five or seven years before the distillery’s first release but as Fiona says: “This is an aspect that makes creating your own whiskey very exciting.”

To develop the new product, the business has been supported with a £50,000 grant through Invest NI’s R&D Boosting Business scheme to develop the background technology, process and skills to enable the method of production to be developed. Invest NI’s research and development support is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

Rademon Estate Distillery also plans a further investment in excess of £2.5m to put to work larger pot stills and associated equipment that will give the distillery a capacity of 35,000 litres of pure alcohol per annum. They hope to create a unique visitor experience centre as part of this investment as the business expands over the next three years.

7 September 2015