It’s the culmination of a multi-million €uro investment by brand owners William Grant & Sons plus more than eight months of intensive on-site work. Visitor numbers are expected to increase to over 40,000 people annually, making this a premier tourist attraction for both Tullamore and the Midlands region.
Set in Tullamore Dew’s original 19th Century bonded warehouse located on the banks of the Grand Canal (which was vital in allowing the former distillery to transport whiskey to Dublin for global distribution) the new Visitor Centre will employ up to 12 people. Visitors will be taken on an immersive tour, bringing the stories of Irish whiskey, distilling and Tullamore Dew to life whilst also showcasing the life and legacy of Tullamore Dew founder Daniel E Williams, whose initials lend themselves to the brand – the second-largest Irish whiskey brand in the world, selling over 750,000 cases worldwide and growing at over 15 per cent annually over the last few years. In the last three years alone, the company claims an export increase of 60 per cent.
Last March William Grant & Sons announced the construction of a new €35 million pot still whiskey and malt whiskey distillery in Tullamore bringing whiskey production back to Tullamore for the first time in over 60 years. Work is expected to commence on this early in 2013.
“This fine Centre is a very welcome tourism boost for the Midlands and represents a real vote of confidence in Ireland by William Grant & Sons,” said Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring, “Irish whiskey is an export phenomenon at the moment and today’s investment gives the growing number of cultural tourists and Irish whiskey aficionados alike around the world a true home with which to engage with the Tullamore Dew story. I wish the entire team every success for the future”.
Stella David commented, “This is an extremely exciting time for Tullamore Dew with the opening of the Visitor Centre today and of course our decision to construct a new distillery here. We invest to grow our brands for the long-term and bringing the story of Tullamore Dew to life like this strengthens and deepens the relationship between the brand and its fans in a very real way”.
William Grant & Sons’ Group Marketing Director Maurice Doyle added, “All great brands need a home, a base from which they can grow and tell their story to the world. Tullamore Dew now has that and it’s highly appropriate it should be rooted in its native town. This is Tullamore Dew returning to its spiritual home and we look forward to it being a focal point for our fans and friends as well as our brand teams and business partners for many years to come”.
The tour begins with a video in the main auditorium where the story of Daniel E Williams sets the scene for the rest of the tour. The introductory film ends to reveal a giant drying kiln for malted barley which visitors enter. This area becomes a fulcrum around which the tour revolves over three floors as visitors move up the stairs through the mashing kettle and washback to explore the distilling process from ingredient selection to treatment. The tour blends audio-visual technology with traditional storytelling in revealing Tullamore Dew’s journey from its humble beginnings to the present day including original archive footage and an audio interview with a worker from the original distillery.
In creating the new Centre, William Grant & Sons enlisted the help of the local community in developing the narrative, asking members of the public to donate artifacts and recount their stories of the old distillery. It also drew heavily on its own expertise in building and managing similar projects. In 1969 William Grant & Sons opened the Glenfiddich Whisky attraction in Dufftown in Scotland, the first distillery to open its doors to the public. It and now attracts over 70,000 visitors a year.
William Grant & Sons currently employs over 85 people in Ireland in Clonmel, Tullamore and its global marketing office in Dublin.