Paul and Jude Davis with their daughters Gemma and Abby at the site of their new distillery in Lahardane. Photo: Michael McLaughlin

Cheers - Lahardane toasts whiskey project’s 18 jobs

LOVELY Lahardane, nestled between the towering bulk of Nephin Mountain and the sparkling waters of Lough Conn, may be famous in future years for a reason other than the Titanic connection. It’s going to be home of the first whiskey distillery in Connaught in over a century.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny travelled to the village today to launch the project. Nephin Distillery was conceived by a Dublin couple, Paul and Jude Davis. They have been joined in the enterprise by businessman Mark Quick, who has strong Attymass connections.

Paul, Jude and family have moved to Lahardane as they endeavour to get the wheels of the project, which they admit is ‘ambitious’, turning. “It’s the perfect location,” Paul enthused when I rang him. He was outdoors at the time in the sunshine gazing upon Lough Conn, the vista which first inspired him to come up with the idea of a distillery. “It was the mountain that first attracted us,” he confided. “There’s such a story to be told here, Nephin, the great lake and the peat bogs which dot the surrounding landscape.”

Fresh water streaming from the great bulk of Nephin and local peat will give the locally produced single malt whiskey a distinctive flavour. There’ll be a touch of Scotland to the flavour but the overall intention is to produce a traditional Irish whiskey.

Within 18 months, the new company, situated in the old Barrett’s premises, hopes to employ 18 people in a fully automated, computer controlled distilling enterprise. There’s general goodwill in the area towards the project because of the job opportunities which will be on offer. 

As well, investors are being sought in order to make the distillery a reality. Paul Davis says it’s hoped to begin the recruitment process after Christmas. Two apprentice coopers (barrel makers) will also be required. That’s good news for a village where there has been precious little employment in recent decades.