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Echlinville purchases Ards Maltings building

The Echlinville Distillery has secured the future of an historic building which was once one of Ireland’s largest malting houses, supplying malted barley to distilleries and breweries around Ireland.

With the support of Bank of Ireland UK, Echlinville has purchased the Ards Maltings building on the Portaferry Road just outside Newtownards, with a view to restoring the malting process on site and increasing their capacity to malt locally produced barley.

The £5 million investment means that Echlinville will be the only distillery in Ireland with the capacity to produce, malt, ferment and distil their spirit from field to glass, with local investment an important pillar of the business growth plans. While the distillery team currently floor malt their barley on the distillery farm, this latest development will enable Echlinville to malt barley on an industrial scale.

Photo Credit: Albert Bridge, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Shane Braniff, owner of The Echlinville Distillery explains: “Echlinville was the first new distillery in Northern Ireland for more than 125 years when we received our licence and casked our first spirit back in 2013.  We’ve always been proud of our roots here in the Ards Peninsula and we complete every stage of the production process from the ground up on site at our distillery, from growing and harvesting the barley on our family farm, right through to hand labelling and bottling the finest spirits that we produce.

“Irish whiskey is the world’s fastest growing spirits category and locally we have a long history of quality whiskey production. The Ards Peninsula has historically been known as one of the finest grain growing regions in Ireland, so it’s no coincidence that Ards Maltings was established at the northern end of the Peninsula, malting barley from the surrounding farms and becoming one of the country’s largest malting houses.

“In its day, Ards Malting provided malted barley to distilleries and breweries around Ireland, including such companies as Guinness, Bushmills and Comber Distilleries – the home of Old Comber Whiskey, a brand that we revived and now produce at Echlinville. We are delighted to be able to bring that particular story full circle.”

Shane Braniff, The Echlinville Distillery

“Ards Maltings is among the Ards’ most iconic buildings, standing proudly on the Northern shore of Strangford Lough and welcoming people to the Peninsula. We are excited to be able to restore the building for the purpose for which it was first built while continuing on our journey to put County Down back on the world whiskey map. Our focus has always been on providing quality, exceptional flavour and instilling excellence from field to glass in the production of the finest quality spirits, and Ards Maltings will play an important role in the future growth of our business.

“The team at Bank of Ireland UK have been strong supporters of our business as it has grown over the years and take the time to understand our plans for business development offering support, guidance and the right financial products to support our ambitions.”

Echlinville’s Shane Braniff (centre) with Gavin North (left) and Niall Devlin (right) of Bank of Ireland UK.

Gavin North, Senior Business Manager at Bank of Ireland UK said: “Shane and the team at Echlinville Distillery have been quietly leading the regeneration of quality local whiskey production and their pursuit of excellence in every aspect is admired and recognised by the significant international awards they have achieved to date.

“We’re pleased to have provided the funding to support this next phase of their sustainable business plan and look forward to working closely with the team as they continue to achieve success locally and globally, placing Echlinville Distillery firmly on the internationally acclaimed whiskey tourism map.”

Hi-Spirits to distribute Dunville’s Irish Whiskey in the UK

The Echlinville Distillery has announced a new distribution partnership with Hi-Spirits, which will see an increased presence for the our Dunville’s Irish Whiskey brand in the UK market, creating a significant boost for Dunville’s presence across the on and off-trade.

An independent, family-owned distillery, Echlinville has been at the forefront of Ireland’s spirits renaissance and is home to a portfolio of award-winning whiskey. Dunville’s Irish Whiskey in particular has gained a global following. The ‘Spirit of Belfast’ is held in high esteem throughout the whiskey industry for its premium and super premium single malts and vintage blends.

Echlinville Distillery owner Shane Braniff said:

“We are excited about this new partnership and the opportunities it will present for both The Echlinville Distillery, Dunville’s Irish Whiskey and Hi-Spirits. Our combined expertise, passion and commitment to quality will provide the momentum for the next phase of Echlinville’s growth.’’

Shane Braniff, Echlinville Distillery

“The agreement will see our Dunville’s Irish Whiskey range take its place among Hi-Spirits’ impressive portfolio. We look forward to working with the Hi-Spirits team to introduce our award-winning whiskeys to an increasing number of trade and retail partners and grow our presence in the UK market. ‘’

“From our Dunville’s 1808 blend, the iconic Dunville’s PX Single Malt, to the limited-edition bottlings from the Single Cask Series, we look forward to sharing The Spirit of Belfast with whiskey enthusiasts across the UK.”

Laura Edwards from Hi-Spirits UK said:

“We are delighted to announce this partnership with Echlinville Distillery brands, that have earned a strong reputation for innovation, versatility and quality with both the trade and consumers alike.  The attention to quality in both liquid and exceptional branding ensures Dunville’s will make a strong addition to our Irish Whiskey portfolio. With an outstanding marketing and engagement plan, we are excited for the future of these brands and all of the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Laura Edwards, Hi-Spirits UK


Hi-Spirits is one of the UK’s leading spirit distributors with a diverse portfolio of award-winning brands. Hi-Spirits is part of the Sazerac Company portfolio. Sazerac is one of America’s oldest family owned, privately held distillers, with operations in the United States in Louisiana, Kentucky, Indiana, Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Maryland, California, and global operations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, India, Australia and Canada. For more information on Sazerac, please visit

If brand information from the sales team is needed, please contact a Hi Spirits representative at [email protected]

Notice to contractors

Applications are invited from Contractors, under the terms of the NEC3 Short Contract, who wish to be considered for inclusion on a Select List for the following project: The Echlinville Distillery, Kircubbin.

A shortlist of EO’s will be compiled (Randomly Generated if over six Applicants) and invited to submit bids for the project. The works will fall into the following Constructionline Category: Sector:

Civil Engineering – Landscaping/Sports Category: Landscaping for a period of 3 months and will commence not before 3rd January 2022.

The estimated cost of the project is £208,000 excluding VAT.

Further details are included in the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire Package (PQQP) which will be issued on receipt of a formal request by e-mail quoting TPDF\100086 to the address below.

The latest date for receipt of your submission and any other additional information requested at the address below is 10th November 2021.

Andrew Bunbury (Landscape Architect)

Park Hood (Chartered Landscape Architects)

Hawarden House, 163 Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 3HZ

[email protected]

Weavers Gin bottle shortlisted for design award

We are delighted to announce that our Weavers Gin bottle has been shortlisted for the UK Packaging Awards 2021.

If you have ever seen this beautiful blue bottle, this news may not come as a surprise. We might be biased, but we do think it is one of the most beautiful gin bottles out there. It seems the people at the UK Packaging Awards agree.

With the gin market booming, there is an ever-increasing number of gins competing for space and attention on back bars and retailers’ shelves. When it comes to attracting potential customers, the design of the bottle can be just as important as the liquid inside. But when you browse the gin offerings in your favourite cocktail bar or local off sales, have you ever wondered about the story behind the bottle?

The story behind the bottle

Weavers Gin is inspired by the linen industry in Ulster and Ireland as a whole. For more than three centuries, linen was Ireland’s most important industry. Belfast, in particular, was a huge centre for linen production. In fact, it was Belfast’s biggest industry – bigger than ship building or whiskey.

From the botanicals used in distillation, to the bespoke glass design and the label on the bottle, Weavers Gin is a celebration of that proud linen heritage.

Irish linen

Irish linen was famous around the world. It adorned the tables of royalty, graced the dressing rooms of the rich and famous. It even coated the wings of the first airplanes or ‘bi-planes’ and helped some of the first aviators take to the skies, including the Royal Flying Corps in World War One.

Linen production was spread across the whole country, from the cities to the most rural parts of Ireland. While the towns were home to scores of linen mills and factories, the countryside would have been filled with flax fields growing the raw materials for the industry. Bleaching greens were also a common sight, where huge sheets of newly woven linen were laid out in the fields to lighten dry in the summer sun.

Weavers Irish Gin is crafted in honour of the thousands of men and women who laboured in the linen mills and toiled in the flax fields to make Irish linen the envy of the world. Infused with Irish flax seeds for extra smoothness, Weavers Gin is as crisp, cool and clean as the linen it is inspired by.

Bottle colour

This isn’t just another blue gin bottle. The Weavers bottle is flax flower blue. Flax is the raw material for the linen industry. Back in Ireland’s linen heyday, the countryside would have been blue with the colour of the flax flowers blooming in the fields. That pure, gentle blue is captured beautifully in the blue hue of the glass used to make the Weavers Gin bottle.

Bottle design

The first thing you may notice when you pick up a bottle of Weavers Gin (apart from how beautiful it is), is that it is quite heavy. This immediately gives the impression of a premium, quality product. We wanted the bottle to look and feel strong. The size, shape and weight of the bottle reflect the strength and stature of the linen industry, which was once the biggest industry in Ulster – bigger than ship building or whiskey, for which Ulster and Belfast are perhaps most famous.

The bespoke bottle design incorporates a few nods to Ireland’s linen industry. In particular, the vertical lines that decorate the Weavers Gin bottle are reminiscent of the rows of flax plants that would have grown in fields up and down the country. Flax is a ‘row crop’, planted in straight lines, and so we have incorporated this into the bottle design.

The words ‘Excellence Instilled’ can be found at the bottom of the Weavers Gin bottle. It is a trademark of The Echlinville Distillery and reflects our ethos of pursuing excellence at every stage of the production process, from field to glass.

The label

The colours in the label are primarily blue, to reflect the flax flowers and linen production’s agricultural roots, and silver to reflect the industrial element of linen production and the technology used in the mills and factories around Ireland. Indeed, at the top of the label we have placed a blue flax flower within the silver cogs of industry.

The Weavers Gin label is beautifully intricate to reflect the craftsmanship and craftswomanship involved in fine linen production. The decorative swirls on the outer four corners of the label is a reproduction of the damask design on the linen tablecloths on the Titanic.

So that is the story of Weavers Gin. The stunning liquid and beautiful bottle – both as crisp, cool and clean as the linen they are inspired by.

Our thanks to our colleagues at Stoelzle Glass Group, Mark Thompson Design and Reflex Labels for helping us create this stunning bottle.

Hi-Spirits Ireland to distribute Echlinville Distillery brands

We are delighted to announce a new distribution agreement with Hi-Spirits Ireland. The deal will see an increased presence for Echlinville’s premium whiskeys and gins across the Irish market.

The Echlinville Distillery is home to award winning premium brands including Dunville’s Irish Whiskey, Weavers Gin and Echlinville Irish Pot Still Gin. The new partnership will provide a significant boost for our distillery’s presence in both the on and off-trade throughout Ireland.

Echlinville became the first field-to-glass distillery in Ireland, and the first new distillery in Northern Ireland for more than 125 years, when we began production in 2013. Our independent, family-owned distillery has since been at the forefront of Ireland’s spirits revolution with its Dunville’s Irish Whiskey in particular having gained a global following.

Future Growth

We are excited about this new partnership and the opportunities it will present for both Echlinville and Hi-Spirits Ireland. Our combined expertise, passion and commitment to quality will provide the momentum for the next phase of our growth.

“The agreement will see our Dunville’s Irish Whiskey range together with Weavers Gin and Echlinville Irish Pot Still Gin take their place among Hi-Spirits Ireland’s impressive portfolio. We look forward to working with the Hi-Spirits team to introduce our award-winning spirits to an increasing number of trade and retail partners and grow our presence in our home market.”

Shane Braniff, Echlinville Distillery Owner

Dunville’s Irish Whiskey

This distribution agreement comes at a particularly good time for us as we are about to launch the latest addition to our Dunville’s Irish Whiskey family. We are delighted that Hi-Spirits Ireland will be the sole Irish distributor of Dunville’s 1808 – a versatile modern blend that works well as a house pour, in a mixed drink or in a cocktail. It is very much a gateway product to the wider Dunville’s range and is perfectly placed in Hi-Spirits’ portfolio to introduce more customers to The Spirit of Belfast.

Hi-Spirits Ireland

“We are delighted to announce this partnership with Echlinville Distillery brands, that have earned a strong reputation for innovation, versatility and quality with both the trade and consumers alike.  The attention to quality in both liquid and exceptional branding ensures Echlinville will make a strong addition to both our Irish Whiskey and Gin portfolio. With an outstanding marketing and engagement plan, we are excited for the future of these brands and all of the opportunities that lie ahead.”

George Roberts, Hi-Spirits Ireland Country Manager

Dublin-based Hi-Spirits Ireland is a subsidiary of USA-based Sazerac Company, distributing a portfolio including Paddy Whiskey, Southern Comfort, Buffalo Trace, Fireball, Antica Sambuca and a range of premium spirits and liqueurs. For more information visit Trade inquiries to [email protected]

Tender for Strangford Lough Tourism Cluster

Invitation to tender for Phase 2 Invest NI Collaborative Growth Programme Project for The Strangford Lough Tourism Cluster

Job Title: Independent Facilitator for the Strangford Lough Tourism Cluster Group – 30 month contract

Closing Date: Tuesday 2 February 2021 5pm

As lead partner in The Strangford Lough Tourism Cluster, The Echlinville Distillery is inviting tenders for an Independent Facilitator/s for Phase 2 of the Cluster’s Invest NI Collaborative Growth Programme.

The Strangford Lough Tourism Cluster was established in early 2019 and comprises key tourist operators and stakeholders from the Strangford Lough area, supported by Invest NI, Tourism NI, Ards and North Down Borough Council and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

The Cluster was assisted and financially funded by Invest NI though its Collaborative Growth Programme (Phase 1) and the funding enabled the appointment of independent facilitators who assisted the Cluster in carrying out a Scoping Study to investigate the potential to establish a collaborative network of SMEs around Strangford Lough. Working with the key tourism stakeholders, the Cluster identified how best to exploit economic opportunities arising from collaborative working on new products and experiences in the area.

Phase 2 – Having secured further funding from Invest NI, the Cluster now wishes to appoint a facilitator/s to guide and manage the Cluster, over a 30-month period, to co-ordinate effective delivery of an agreed set of SMART objectives and ensuring a commercial return for all the Cluster Members.

Next Steps:

Tender specification and project details are available here Independent Facilitator Tender Document

Tenders must be submitted by 5pm on Tuesday 2 February 2021.


Submit queries by email to [email protected]

Echlinville Distillery to expand with £9m investment and 36 jobs

European Regional Development Fund logo

Echlinville Distillery Ltd is in receipt of SFA Capital and Development support from Invest NI for Selective Financial Assistance  – Distillery Expansion Project 2019.  This project which is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020 aims to increase production capacity and grow Irish whiskey and gin brands globally.

The Echlinville Distillery is to invest over £9million and create 36 new jobs as it expands with the help of funding from Invest Northern Ireland.

The distillery plans to increase production capacity and grow its Irish whiskey and gin brands globally.

Invest Northern Ireland’s CEO, Kevin Holland said: “Since establishing in 2012, Echlinville has developed a number of well-established brands which are making their mark on the international whiskey and gin market. This investment will enable it to grow further and develop its portfolio of award winning spirits. With an emphasis on brand development, it will also drive growth in global sales of its premium and ultra-premium Irish whiskey and gin.

“The investment includes the development of a new immersive visitor’s centre and the creation of 36 new jobs which is great news for the local Ards & North Down Borough Council area. Roles on offer include operational, administrative and visitor centre roles and once in place, will contribute over £1million of additional annual salaries for the Northern Ireland economy.

“It is impressive to see a company in such a short period of time scale so quickly. We have assisted its trade activities, recently supporting it to secure a distribution agreement in Canada. The company’s Dunville whiskey is now on the shelves of almost 900 stores across Canada. Our partnership approach is clearly working and I look forward to seeing Echlinville’s export ambitions continuing to reap rewards.”

Shane Braniff, Owner of Echlinville Distillery said: “This investment will help us to substantially increase our production capacity and grow our export sales tenfold over the next five years. We are adding capacity in distillation, bottling, labelling, storage and brand development, all of which are key to further establishing our brands in major international markets including Russia and the US.”

Invest NI has offered Echlinville £659,000 of support towards the purchasing of new equipment, the extension of its storage facilities to meet anticipated demand for its products and the creation of 36 jobs.

Shane added: “As Northern Ireland’s first farm distillery, our whiskey has ‘field to glass’ traceability – something that is increasingly important in the global food and drink industry. We have built a strong reputation based on that approach and the quality of our products. Irish Whiskey is recognised as the world’s fastest growing spirits category, which is giving us a great foundation upon which to build our export business with the help of this funding from Invest NI.

“Every bottle that leaves our distillery features our address in Kircubbin and tells of our roots in the Ards Peninsula. Alongside increasing exports around the world, we also hope to raise awareness of what this part of Ireland has to offer and attract more visitors to the area with the development of a dedicated visitor centre. We look forward to continued growth in the years ahead and I would like to thank Invest NI for its continued support throughout our journey so far.”

Introducing Echlinville Hand Sanitiser

The Echlinville Distillery is joining the fight against Coronavirus by switching production to hand santiser.

Our first batch of alcohol based hand solution is being produced using the World Health Organisation’s formulation. There will be a very limited quantity available from a small number of local shops this evening (Friday 27 March). We expect this stock will sell out very quickly. Please be assured that we are working very hard to increase availability over the next week or so.

We are taking wholesale inquiries for frontline services, retail outlets and essential businesses for 350ml, 1 litre and 5 litre containers. Wholesale inquiries should be directed to [email protected] or call 028 427 38597.

Our distillery shop is currently closed. We are sorry that Echlinville Hand Sanitiser is not available for the public to purchase directly from the distillery at this time, but we are working very hard to put sales and distribution channels in place to make it more widely available. We will post updates here as soon as possible.

Here are a few words from Echlinville owner, Shane Braniff: “We all know about the importance of hand hygiene in the fight against coronavirus and that hand sanitiser is a crucial tool, particularly for those on the front line in the fight against this pandemic. Unfortunately we also know that hand sanitiser has been in short supply. We have been working very hard over the past few weeks to switch production so we can do our bit to help address that shortage.

“At a time like this, it is human nature to want to do anything and everything to help. We are in the fortunate position to be able to use the resources we have – namely our wonderful team here at Echlinville and their ability to produce high strength alcohol – to diversify our approach for the production of sanitiser. We are pleased that we are in a position to do something to help protect the community and those on the front line in the fight against this pandemic.”

Shane Braniff, Owner of The Echlinville Distillery

“We are just at the start of this process, and it is a work in progress, so please bear with us. Our team have put in a huge amount effort over the past couple of weeks to make this happen and they are continuing to work around the clock to produce as much as possible. We are also working very hard to agree distribution partnerships to help us get this product to those who need it. We will provide updates on availability via our social media pages as soon as we can.”

Our office is operating on reduced staff numbers at the moment, so while we welcome any inquiries from businesses or retail outlets who are interested in stocking Echlinville Hand Sanitiser, we would ask members of the public to refrain from calling the office to keep the phone lines as free as possible.

We are already receiving a large number of inquiries about this. It may take a little longer than usual to reply to inquiries, but we will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.

Echlinville back Distillery Football Club with iconic Dunville’s brand

The Echlinville Distillery is continuing its valued sponsorship with Lisburn Distillery Football Club as the ‘back of shirt’ sponsor for the 2018-2019 season.

This is the third consecutive season that Echlinville has sponsored the club. For the forthcoming season the distillery’s multi-award winning Dunville’s Irish Whiskey brand will appear on the first team home and away kits. There is added historical significance to the partnership in that Echlinville is home to the iconic Dunville’s Irish Whiskey brand.  Distillery Football Club was originally founded by employees of the Dunville’s distillery – then based in Belfast – in 1880. The distillery closed its doors in 1936 and Dunville’s Whiskey was consigned to history until Echlinville revived the brand in 2013.

The Echlinville Distillery will also continue to sponsor the popular Player of the Month award. This will now be known as ‘The Dunville’s Whiskey Player of the Month Award’.

Lisburn Distillery director Terry Thompson said; “I would like to thank everyone at The Echlinville Distillery for continuing their much valued sponsorship – it really is very genuinely appreciated by everyone involved with the club. We had a positive season last year on the pitch and we hope to build on that again.

@We have had a great relationship with Echlinville for the the last two seasons and have watched them go from strength to strength on many fronts and it will be with great pleasure and pride that we will have “Dunville’s” on our shirts this season. To be re-connected with Dunville’s again is something very special indeed and it would be fantastic if we could transfer some of that award-winning spirit from the cask to the pitch over the forthcoming season. Again, I would like to thank Shane Braniff and the Echlinville team for their generous support.“

Shane Braniff, owner of The Echlinville Distillery, said: “We are delighted to continue our successful relationship with Lisburn Distillery Football Club. It was the founding goal of The Echlinville Distillery to revive the iconic Dunville’s Irish Whiskey brand and introduce ‘The Spirit of Belfast’ to a new generation of whiskey enthusiasts. As Dunville’s spiritual home, it makes perfect sense for us to rekindle the relationship between Dunville’s Irish Whiskey and Distillery Football Club. With the recent release of our Dunville’s PX 12 Year Old Single Malt and excitement building for the upcoming release of our multi-award winning 17 Year Old Port Mourant Rum Finish Whiskey, the 2018/19 season is looking bright for Dunville’s Whiskey and, we hope too, for Lisburn Distillery FC. We wish everyone at the club the best of luck in the new season.”

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