Located in the heart of the small East Galway village of Ballinasloe, the previously derelict mill complex is being transformed as the company gears up for distillation by the end of the year. Founders Gareth and Michelle McAllister are driven by a desire to distill some of the first zero-emissions spirits in Ireland and change the traditional energy source for Irish whiskey production.
The distillery was recently granted €500,000 capital support to complete construction of the eco-distillery and visitor experience through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s ‘Exeed’ Programme, aimed at organisations planning an energy-efficient investment project.
Ahascragh Distillery’s technology will deliver substantial reductions in the utility demands of the distillery through a novel means of thermal storage combined with optimal heat recovery within the process.
This means that peak heating and cooling demand has more than halved. Unlike other Irish distilleries the heat delivered to the distillery will not require the combustion of any fossil fuels and will utilise green electricity. As the heat will be provided to the distillery through heat pumps there will be no flue-related emissions or impacts on the local environment. The heat pump design, heat recovery and thermal storage mean that the energy inputs to the distillery are a third that of traditional technology.
“Ireland’s first eco-distillery is an innovative example of what all Irish industry should be considering to cut cost and carbon at the same time,” said the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, “Electrification of our heat will be at the cornerstone of reducing costs and our carbon emissions in the years ahead. We’re making great progress at the residential level, but industry needs to catch up and high-temperature heat pumps like the one being deployed at Ahascragh Distillery are exactly what we need. This is proven technology across Europe and we have a huge potential to use it here, particularly in the food & beverage sector.”
Some 30 people are working on construction of the project and a further 20-40 will be employed when the distillery begins production.