US whiskey maker buys controlling stake in Niche Drinks

Whiskey distillery Ebrington Image copyright Niche Drinks
Image caption The Quiet Man is the first whiskey distillery to open in Londonderrry for nearly 200 years

A US whiskey maker has bought a controlling interest in a firm building a £12m distillery in Londonderry.

The deal, that sees Missouri-based Luxco acquire control of Derry firm Niche Drinks, was finalised earlier this month.

Niche Drinks' managing director, Ciaran Mulgrew, said both firms had been working closely for more than 30 years.

He said the US firm has "strong experience building and running distilleries".

Mr Mulgrew told BBC Radio Foyle's Mark Patterson Show work on the Quiet Man distillery at Ebrington had slowed after he was diagnosed with cancer last year.

Tequila distillery

Niche Drinks has manufactured Saint Brendan's Irish Cream for the US company since the 1980s.

Luxco currently own two whiskey distilleries in Kentucky and are planning a tequila distillery in Mexico.

"From our point of view that is a big advantage," Mr Mulgrew said.

Image copyright Niche Drinks
Image caption The project got approval from Derry City and Strabane District Council in 2017

"Don Lux, the chairman and who owns the business, had wanted to have an interest in our distillery for a long time," he added.

Mr Mulgrew will continue as managing director of the local firm.

He said his ill health had been "a setback" but said work will now resume on the distillery site.

Two centuries

"We thought we'd be well under way by now, it has held us back, but the intention is still there and still as strong. We will get there with the same project and on the same scale."

The Quiet Man is thought to be the first whiskey distillery to open in the city for nearly 200 years.

The project got approval from Derry City and Strabane District Council in 2017.

At one time Derry was regarded as the world's whiskey capital. By the end of the 19th century, Derry was said to be producing more whiskey than any other city in the world.

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