Farmer seeking permission for micro distillery in the Glens of Antrim
A County Antrim farmer is seeking permission from council planners to expand a personal hobby into a business with plans for a micro distillery producing small quantities of 'Irish craft-scale whiskey' in the Glens of Antrim.
William McCann (Willie), whose family has been farming for over four generations in the area, has lodged a full planning application to convert a small farmyard agricultural building at Dungonnell Road, Cargan, for the enterprise described as a 'farm diversification' project, with the submission stating that 'the Farmers Union for Northern Ireland, have indicated the impact of BREXIT and COVID-19 have been devastating to the farming industry and will continue for many years.'
The report to planners states:
'Willie has over 40 years experience in making home made small quantities of wine and beer for his own personal use and has researched the making of unique craft-scale Irish Whiskey in which he would like to diversify to and understands, if Planning application is successful, he will require a licence from Revenue & Customs.
'Willie believes that, for the proposed conversion of the agricultural building and Irish whiskey making will be the only financially viable option.
'Willie has a vacant agricultural building that would allow for small quantities of Irish craft-scale whiskey making one barrel per month (40 gallons) with a maximum storage of 50 barrels, as per proposed plan.
'The proposal is only for production facility for a micro distillery for Irish Whiskey making only and there will be no public / visitors or commercial vehicles. All products will be collected and delivered by the McCann
The proposed site is located in the open countryside outside any development limits, within Glenariff, one of the Glens, and just approximateky one mile from Cargan village, with renowned surrounding tourist attractions.
The report continues:
'The historical nine Glens of Antrim are steeped in Irish folklore where spirits, myths and legends Irish whiskeys pay tribute to these mystical tales.
'Small Irish Whiskey making distilleries have been renowned both in the North and the South of Ireland, and particularly the Glens of Antrim, but many of these small distilleries producing unique rare craft whiskey, are no longer in existence, i.e. Mr McCann referred me to Edishnacrow Bens Estate that produced craft whiskey, but became redundant in early 1900's, Podhreen Mare (distilled in Cooley Distillery, Co Louth but was unique to the Thatch Inn, Broughshane) and many unique whiskey's have become extinct.
'However there is now a resurgent demand for unique rare craft whiskeys by the population of Ireland and in particular the tourism within Ireland.'
The applicant concludes by stating the proposal will provide minimal economic benefits initially as it takes at least three years for whiskey to mature, however, there is the potential that it may provide future jobs.
The interesting proposal will be considered in upcoming months by the Planning Committee of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.