This takes to 20 the number of Irish whiskey distillery visitor experiences on the island of Ireland.
Irish whiskey distilleries attracted over one million visitors in 2019, but 87% of these were from outside the island of Ireland. The impact of Covid-19 means that the industry is facing a loss of over three-quarters of its visitor numbers compared to last year.
Founded by Pat and Denise Rigney, The Shed Distillery is home to the highly-successful Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin and Drumshanbo Irish Whiskey.
In deciding to open the new visitor experience at such a “challenging time” Pat Rigney explained that he owed it to the local Drumshanbo community, devastated by the loss of 100 jobs when the main employer, Lairds Jam Factory, closed in 1998, taking 100 jobs with it and precipitating long-term unemployment in the area.
“The Shed Distillery is located in the former Lairds building” Pat explained, “a social enterprise run by the community who’ve been incredible in supporting the success of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin internationally.
“It is the right thing for us to open now even ‘though it’s possibly the worst time from a business perspective. Together with the Jackalope Café in the Visitor Experience, this will immediately add 15 new jobs, bringing total employee numbers to over 50.”
In July and August IrishWhiskey360°, the collective promotional initiative for Irish whiskey distillery visitor experiences, launched its ‘Get back into the spirit’ campaign targeting domestic tourists. Reports from distilleries indicate slow but steady visitor numbers as more Island of Ireland tourists visited a distillery for the first time.
“2020 has been a tough year for our members,” commented the Head of IrishWhiskey360° William Lavelle, “But if history teaches us anything it’s that the Irish whiskey industry is resilient and cannot easily be knocked-out. Our tourism offering is no different and we will bounce back.
“This year has required our distilleries to refocus on domestic tourists.
‘We’ve been particularly struck by the number of couples visiting,” he continued, “Who would have thought that Irish whiskey distilleries would become the hot date-spot of post-lockdown Ireland?”
In congratulating Pat and Denise and their colleagues on the opening of their new visitor experience, William said, “Today is a great day for all the team at The Shed Distillery and it’s a great day for Drumshanbo. I’ve no doubt that this new visitor experience will draw many new tourists to the north-west region and contribute greatly to the rural economy of County Leitrim.
“The opening of this distillery visitor experience represents a timely boost for the Irish whiskey tourism sector and we look forward to more good news in the future.”
Follow IrishWhiskey360° on Twitter, @IWhiskey360.
Follow Drinks Ireland | Irish Whiskey Association on Twitter, @IrishWhiskeyAsc.