Lough Gill Comes to Life With First Release of Premium Athrú Whiskey
Conor McKeon
Conor McKeon
Head of Corporate Finance

When you visit Lough Gill Distillery what stands out more than anything is the vision behind the business and the setting in which it sits. And this is about to come to life with the first release of the premium Athrú “Annacoona” whiskey.

It was in late 2014 that a visit to the estate inspired the setting up of Hazelwood Demesne Ltd and Lough Gill Distillery by a group of seasoned investors. That same year saw an initial fundraise of €3m and the acquisition of the estate. With Irish whiskey now the fastest growing spirits category globally, the investors saw a clear opportunity for a new super premium single malt luxury brand, and this is the story so far.

Hazelwood Estate is uniquely located on the stunning setting of Lough Gill in County Sligo with views of Ben Bulben, and features a Palladian style country house which was home to the Wynne family for several generations until shortly after Independence along with a 6-acre factory to the back of the building! Surrounded by natural beauty and steeped in cultural heritage, it is the perfect launch pad for a premium drinks brand and visitor destination.

Some big industry names are involved in the project with David Raethorne at the helm – entrepreneur and Scotch industry veteran Billy Walker is consultant master distiller (world distiller of the year 2015) and Donard Gaynor former Senior Vice President of Beam Spirits (and non-executive director of Glanbia) is Chairman.

In 2015 the company acquired over 500 casks of 12-year-old single malt whiskey and plans were submitted for a 1 mla (million litres of alcohol) whiskey distillery and bonded warehouse. It was at this point that the company began work on the Athrú brand. A year later a new fill whiskey contract was signed with the Shed Distillery of PJ Rigney (Gunpowder Gin) located in Drumshanbo Co. Leitrim, planning approval was granted for a bonded warehouse on the site at Hazelwood and a range of Oloroso sherry, Pedro Ximénez and Tokaji casks were acquired to mature the 500-cask consignment of single malt whiskey acquired the previous year.

Full planning permission for the development of the distillery was secured in 2017, the site was cleared in preparation for construction and a second round of fundraising with Cantor Fitzgerald Ireland was completed. UK and Irish distributors were appointed and the Athrú design process was complete.

The Brand
The team set about launching a truly distinctive brand and creating maximum commercial value, with a strategy to drive demand through strictly limited edition expressions (new whiskey releases). The Athrú name allows for real brand value to be generated, for the Lough Gill story to be told and for the location to be firmly put on the map with nine unique expressions of 15-year-old single malt whiskey. This will be in limited releases of 6,600 bottles rooted in the mythology of Sligo and signed by master distiller Billy Walker. The expressions will form part of three special edition trilogies linked to the meaning of life, finding the ultimate truth, and myths that ground Athrú and Lough Gill Distillery in the locality. The goal is to make Athrú the most desirable and unique Irish whiskey brand in the world, a whiskey like no other, and to attract collectors and investors alike.

Constructing the Distillery
Construction has commenced in Hazelewood and the distillery equipment is due to arrive along with the first release of Athrú “Annacoona”. The distillery will be built in phases with the ability to handle tours and the first bottling will happen in September. Actual “new fill” whiskey distillation will begin at Lough Gill early next year and distillery commissioning should be completed in 2019. It is anticipated that a second phase of fundraising will commence with Cantor Fitzgerald later this year, to upgrade the warehouse facilities and commence the “laying down” of Lough Gill’s first batch of “new fill” stock.

Lough Gill is an outstanding setting. With full planning permission, third party aged whiskey stock and a clear and ambitious brand strategy it is going to be a unique visitor experience and destination in the heart of Yeats Country. It’s an exciting time for Athrú and the large signature “A” that greets you on arrival at Lough Gill is just the beginning of the journey.

To speak with a Portfolio Manager or Account Executive today, please phone the Cantor Fitzgerald dealing desk on 01 633 3633.

Warning: Lough Gill Distillery is not a regulated entity. Investment in unlisted securities carries certain risks and is not suitable for all investors. You may lose all or part of your investment. Specific advice should always be sought prior to any investment.