Nostalgia: A look back at the Old Midleton Distillery

The existing attraction will be completely transformed to accommodate new and interactive whiskey tours and various tasting experiences
Nostalgia: A look back at the Old Midleton Distillery

Packing department at Midleton Distillery, 1972.

EARLIER this week Irish Distillers announced details of a €13m investment plan, which will see the redevelopment of its distillery experience at Midleton Distillery, transforming the attraction into a world-class whiskey destination.

Midleton Distillery is home to some of the world’s most well-known and successful Irish whiskeys, including Jameson, Powers, Redbreast, Midleton Very Rare, the Spot family, and Method and Madness, as well as the Irish Whiskey Academy, Irish Distillers’ Archive, and the Micro Distillery.

As part of the plan, the existing attraction will be completely transformed to accommodate new and interactive whiskey tours and various tasting experiences, offering visitors the opportunity to explore more about the past, present, and future of Irish whiskey production at Midleton Distillery.

The redevelopment will also deliver state-of-the-art new shopping, bar, café, and restaurant facilities.

Construction will commence immediately and is expected to be completed by 2025 — in time to mark the 200-year anniversary of Midleton Distillery.

Old fire engine at Midleton Distillery pictured in 1972.
Old fire engine at Midleton Distillery pictured in 1972.

While construction is ongoing, an alternative purpose-built Irish whiskey attraction will continue to welcome visitors.

Announcing details of the plan earlier this week, Irish Distillers chairman and chief executive Conor McQuaid said the redevelopment will "marry the old and the new".

"As we are committed to preserving and maintaining the beauty of the original distillery buildings, many of which date back to 1794, our redevelopment plan is centred around the conservation and restoration of existing structures, while transforming our visitor attraction to accommodate new and interactive whiskey tours and exciting tasting experiences.

Irish Distillers management visit to Midleton Distillery, 1972.
Irish Distillers management visit to Midleton Distillery, 1972.

"The redevelopment will therefore marry the old and the new, making improvements and upgrades to preserve the fabric of these buildings, all of which will ultimately contribute to an immersive and unique visitor experience," he said.

New York-headquartered Ralph Appelbaum Associates, which has specialist experience in the planning and design of cultural attractions around the world, will lead the design of the redevelopment project.

PJ Hegarty & Sons have been appointed as the conservation and construction contractor.

Midleton Distillery pictured in 1955. 
Midleton Distillery pictured in 1955. 

The Old Midleton Distillery, which opened as a visitor's centre in 1992, began life as a woollen mills before being converted to a military barracks and subsequently a distillery in 1825 founded by the Murphy brothers. 

The distillery operated until 1975, when a new distillery was constructed alongside it to house the consolidated operations of three former whiskey-making rivals, John Jameson & Son, John Powers & Son, and Cork Distilleries Company who had come together to form Irish Distillers in 1966.

David Byrne, Director of Midleton Campus at Irish Distillers, pictured in 1999.
David Byrne, Director of Midleton Campus at Irish Distillers, pictured in 1999.

The Old Midleton Distillery houses the world’s largest pot still, with a capacity of 143,600 litres, which was in use up to 1975. 

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny on a visit to Midleton Distillery in 2013. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny on a visit to Midleton Distillery in 2013. Picture: Denis Minihane.

In a typical year, the popular attraction would welcome in excess of 150,000 visitors.

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