It’s been an exciting week for Irish Whiskey as some of the country’s biggest names are entering the industry. Just days ago, UFC superstar, Conor McGregor released his very own Irish whiskey, named Proper No. Twelve whiskey, which was distilled at the Bushmills Distillery and released to the UK and US. Now, U2 singer, Bono, has announced he will be investing in a brand new Irish whiskey distillery.
According to the Irish Times, the U2 frontman has been named an investor in a new distillery and visitor centre in Monasterevin, Co. Kildare which is being created by businessman Paddy McKillen. The distillery will see an initial investment of $50 million.
‘We’re restoring a beautiful 200-year-old mill and reviving Monasterevin’s rich heritage in producing the finest whiskey going right back to the 18th century,’ McKillen tells the Irish Times. ‘We have assembled an amazing team of world-leading experts and we will produce a world class product. We’re investing €50m into this initial phase, which is the start of a long-term strategy. It fits very well with our existing hospitality businesses and the great global interest in Irish whiskey over the past number of years.’
An application was put forth to Kildare Co. Council by Jewelfield Ltd to redevelop Ballykelly Mill, ‘a listed structure dating from 1801 on a five-acre site running along the Grand Canal.’ The application includes a distillery, tasting room, visitor centre, and event spaces. McKillen’s son leads a hospitality company, Press Up Entertainment, which owns more the 34 venues across many brands, and this experience will come in handy for the new distillery. This new project is one of their most exciting to date for the McKillen family.
Bono’s role as an investor follows a growing trend of celebrities entering the spirits industry. Before Conor McGregor and Bono, rock star Bob Dylan announced his new range of whiskey, Heaven’s Door. Ryan Reynolds invested in 10-year-old Aviation Gin, while George Clooney previously invested in Casamigos tequila, which was later bought by Diageo. Matthew McConaughey with Longbranch Bourbon, David Beckham with Haig Club, Drake with Virginia Black, the list goes on and on. Sadly, not all these collaborations deliver quality products and can sometimes just be a marketing tool. Other spirits are stellar and the new, celebrity connection can help the brands spread.
This new distillery is promising, as the team is experienced in hospitality, whiskey, and are starting from scratch, with a gorgeous location and a well-thought-out plan to build a strong brand. A new chapter for Irish whiskey is beginning.