Pictured at the launch of Lough Ree Distillery’s new gin, Sling Shot gin, is Michael Clancy, Sheila Mullen and Peter Clancy, Co-founders of Lough Ree Distillery. Photo: Conor Healy
County Longford’s first distillery, Lanesborough-based Lough Ree Distillery, has launched Ireland’s newest gin, Sling Shot, to the Irish market.
The gin is the first in a line of planned Lough Ree Distillery spirits that will include whiskey, vodka, liqueurs, poitín, and fruit spirits.
The investment in the new Lanesborough distillery will be in excess of €5 million.
Based on the banks of Lough Ree at Lanesborough’s historic crossing point on the River Shannon, the new distillery is set to increase local and international tourism to the area, resulting in upwards of 25,000 visitors by 2023. It is anticipated that growth in production and visitors will create in excess of 20 new jobs over the next three years.
The new Sling Shot gin is inspired by a mix of historical and modern elements of Lough Ree. This comes through in the brand name and gin flavours. Sling Shot marries classic, gin botanicals and a very unique local ingredient along with citrus and fresh Irish mint.
The official launch of Sling Shot gin will take place at the Taste of the Lakelands Festival on Friday, 5 October in Lanesborough, County Longford when the gin and its unique ingredients will be revealed.
Sling Shot gin is being distilled in a custom-built distillery while construction of the state-of-the-art Lough Ree Distillery and visitor centre commences in the coming weeks, ahead of its official opening in mid-2019. Dublin-based architects McElroy Associates and local firm Milltown Passive Builds are overseeing construction.
When in full production, Lough Ree Distillery will have production capacity for 50,000 cases of premium whiskey and 15,000 cases of gin and other white spirits per annum.
Lough Ree Distillery also has an ‘Ambassador Programme’ that allows a set number of customers to buy exclusive access to the distillery’s whiskey. The Ambassador Programme is invite-only and open to consumers, trade and corporate clients to apply.
Within the programme, consumers can choose a number of options ranging from a standard cask of whiskey to the top Ambassador package ‘Rí’, which allows consumers to work with the master distiller to create their own unique whiskey blend.
According to figures from the Irish Spirits Association, Irish gin sales rose by 44% in 2017 and gin exports trebled to 130,000 cases. The association forecasts that this will increase to 400,000 cases by 2022.
The future looks equally bright for Irish whiskey, Lough Ree Distillery’s other main product, which is the fastest-growing spirits category in the world. Ireland exported 10 million cases of whiskey last year; the Irish Whiskey Association forecasts this to grow to 25 million by 2030.
Lough Ree Distillery owners are brothers Peter and Michael Clancy and sister Sheila Mullen. With Michael and Peter’s experience in process engineering and business, along with Sheila’s experience working in hospitality and finance, the trio had the tools they needed to become Longford’s first modern distillery. Their endless passion and drive for distilling spirits have allowed them to become a considerable player in a growing drinks market.
The Clancy family has also brought significant industry expertise across spirits retailing and distillery operations to the Lough Ree Distillery team, with Ally Alpine from the well-known Celtic Whiskey Shop and Alan Wolstenholme, Chairman at Scottish Craft Distillers Association joining as non-executive directors.
Commenting, Peter Clancy, CEO of Lough Ree Distillery, said:
“Lough Ree Distillery is the first distillery to open in Longford in 200 years and the launch of Sling Shot gin is a landmark moment for us and the community of Lanesborough. It marks the first chapter of a new story in the Midlands.
“Over the coming decades, our goal is to produce a range of gin, whiskey, vodka and liqueurs that marry the rich heritage of the local surroundings and local talent in the region with innovation, experimentation and ingenuity. We want to create spirits that are modern, innovative and confident, blending hints of the past with Ireland’s youthful, vibrant flavours.
“When we open our visitor centre in 2019, guests will get a window into a state-of-the-art production process that embraces both modernity and tradition.
“Lough Ree Distillery has entered the market at an opportune moment. The Irish spirits market is in robust health. Irish whiskey is the fastest-growing spirits category in the world. Irish gin sales rose by 44% in 2017 and gin exports trebled to 130,000 cases. We are excited and ambitious to spur on further growth in the Irish market in the years to come.”