The future is bright for the Irish whiskey industry, said managing director, Barry Spellman, managing director, Killarney Brewing and Distilling Company, said.
“The resurgence and growth of the Irish whiskey industry globally is a big driver behind all of this. We will be best positioned to capitalise on it and become a serious player in the global drinks industry.”
Founders Tim O’Donoghue, Paul Sheahan and Liam Healy put the plan for the brewery together in 2013. Spellman is managing director and runs the day-to-day operation. The current brewery on Muckross Road opened its doors in 2015.
“We brew a range of premium Irish beers from lagers to ales and stouts,” said Spellman. “Our two core offerings are Killarney Blonde and Full Circle IPA. We have a catalogue of other brews that we mainly push through our taproom. The taproom provides a great forum for experimentation and honest feedback is always evident.
“People vote with their feet and its usually very quickly established what the consumer gets drawn to. It’s also a great ballast for the brewing team to express themselves and keep their creativity sense in tune.”
Killarney has a huge transient trade and an international audience. “This can be a blessing and a curse,” Spellman said. “It is fantastic for international appeal and a brand building exercise around the globe but, with the limited capacity, we have been constrained when it comes to really driving the business year-round in Ireland and beyond.
“Covid-19 has actually been good to us from that perspective. Staycations and people consuming at home has opened many doors and naturally allowed distribution across the country.”
Distribution is through C&C, the company’s main route to market partner. “We have just dipped our toe in the export market and have robust plans to ramp up this business in 2022 when the new brewing facility comes on stream.”
Spellman said the firm was developing a spectacular new facility just outside town but on the main Ring of Kerry driving route. “Typically, 1.1 million visitors travel the Ring of Kerry every year so the captive audience will be huge. This stunning new facility will be the first of its kind at scale in the country. We are developing a unique indoor visitor experience as well as two separate really streamlined production facilities.
“The first and foremost obviously being an Irish whiskey distillery capable of producing in excess of 250,000 cases per year. We will distil pot, malt and grain whiskey as well as our own grain neutral spirit for our gin offerings. We will then have a new state of the art brewing and packaging facility, quadrupling our current brewing capacity and allowing for adequate packaging space.
“We are creating both distillery and brewery tours, an up close and personal sensory experience. We will have an upscale bar and grill that has stunning views across to the gap of Dunloe and a gala dinner venue that can welcome up to 250 people. This event space will focus on bringing more business tourism to the Killarney offering.
“The town has the capacity of hotel beds and already a growing conference business. Our gala dinner venue will be an additional offering for the potential incentive or conference business coming to the town and we hope will benefit all Killarney businesses as a result.
“We have already secured €12 million in private equity investment, predominantly from the US, and an EIIS raise of €2.8 million last year. This year’s offering aims to raise €3.2 million and will be used to complete the facility and get it open for the coming season. EIIS Investors will get their 40 per cent tax relief on their investment against their income and technically a 5 per cent per annum return over the four-year term.
“We are putting together a great team of people,” he said. “Company culture is hugely important to us and with carefully picked experts in their respective fields we see a fantastic journey ahead.”
For further information, see killarneybrewing.com