Get back into the spirit of visiting local distilleries

Connacht Whiskey Distillery in Ballina has re-opened with smaller tour sizes and a range of new safety measures to accommodate visitors in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Commenting today, David Stapleton, founder and director of the Connacht Whiskey Distillery, said they are excited to re-open and feeling 'cautiously optimistic' about the future.

David explained: “We’ve obviously introduced a range of changes in the wake of Covid-19. We have reduced tour numbers and we are encouraging all visitors to book their tours in advance, for example. We have new safety and cleaning regimes in place, and we’ve been training and upskilling our team accordingly.

“We’re opening today in solidarity with a range of other businesses in Mayo; we’re aiming to make Mayo the place to be for staycations this year. We are feeling confident for ourselves and for the rest of the country.

“Everyone was hit hard by Covid-19, not least businesses like ours that depend, to a very large extent, on tourism. But we’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll bounce back quickly, and that Connacht will have a good summer season, thanks to domestic tourists.”

Connacht Whiskey Distillery is a member of Drinks Ireland Irish Whiskey Association, the representative body for the Irish whiskey industry. In recent weeks, Connacht Whiskey Distillery received the Failte Ireland Covid-19 Safety Charter accreditation.

William Lavelle, head of Drinks Ireland Irish Whiskey Association, said: “I’m delighted to see Connacht Whiskey Distillery open again, with many more distilleries due to open their doors in the coming weeks.

“Safety is a key focus for all our members. They have reduced their tour sizes and introduced all the necessary requirements to ensure social distancing can be adhered to. In doing so, they have also developed new experiences and offerings.

“It has been an incredibly difficult few months for everyone, including the Irish whiskey industry, so it is great to see our industry begin to bounce back.

“This summer, many Irish people will obviously holiday at home rather than travelling abroad. I would urge people to get back into the spirit of discovery and friendship by including an Irish whiskey visitor centre in their holiday plans. They are a great day out and, by visiting them, you are boosting your local tourism economy.”

Mr. Lavelle added that Irish whiskey visitor centres are not just for whiskey fans but also offer a cultural and historical experience where visitors can learn about how whiskey is made, the history of the local area, taste whiskey, and sample local cuisine.

“Whether you’re a couple looking for a fun date experience or a group of friends looking to catch up after a difficult few months, we’re calling on people to support local brands and plan a trip to an Irish whiskey visitor centre this summer.”

The Irish whiskey industry had a successful 2019, with 143 million bottles (nearly 12 million cases) of Irish whiskey sold globally, a doubling of sales since 2010, along with a record one million people visiting Irish whiskey distilleries and visitor centres.

Last year, as Mr. Lavelle pointed out, 87% of visitors to Irish whiskey distilleries and brand homes were from overseas. “This year will see a very significant decline in visitor numbers, in particular visitors from overseas, so we’re hoping that domestic tourists will support the industry and use this summer as an opportunity to discover the hidden whiskey gems that are on their doorstep – including Connacht Whiskey Distillery.”

Further information on the Irish whiskey distilleries and visitor centres that are now open is available at www.irishwhiskey360.com.

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