Premier Hospitality

Clonakilty Distillery West Cork

Clonakilty Distillery
Written by Roma Publications

Clonakilty Distillery

Opened early spring 2019 the Clonakilty Distillery represents The Scully’s family farm on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in Clonakilty, West Cork, Ireland. The brand makes whiskey and gin on their farm, with The Clonakilty Distillery offering a space for their collections of whiskies and gins, as well as a unique sensory visitor experience in which visitors have the chance to distil their own gin.

Michael Scully of Clonakilty distillery said:

“We’re dairy farmers on the edge of the Atlantic ocean. I used to travel a lot for my job but about six years ago, after the recession, I wanted to start a business closer to home. We began looking at something where we could showcase the very best of the produce from our family dairy farm and between one thing and the other it led me to whiskey.”

The Scully family have farmed on this coastal land for eight generations and have revived ancient malting barley varieties to make their whiskey. The fields of the farm are at the base of Galley Head Lighthouse, which is the best environment for crops to grow for whiskey.

The Clonakilty Distillery building was is in the heart of the town and was purchased in 2015. Construction started in January of 2018, finishing early this year, taking about 14 months.

Michael himself has been working on the project for about six years. He added:

“We believe the future is very much about local food and provenance and people want to see where their food and drink is being made, they want visibility in what they buy and consume.

“Clonakilty is a good tourist town and this premises came up which is very close to the centre of town. We were lucky enough to get our hands on it and its turned out to be the perfect building for a whiskey distillery. It’s very visible and we light it up at night time so you can see the stills from all around the local area.

“In the beginning, the bones of the structure were there, however it was a structurally challenging build. The most pressing challenge was that it was quite difficult to put the stills in. We had to put up a structural frame to take all the weight because once the tanks are filled with liquid they’re very heavy. We also had to remove some of the concrete flooring in between the buildings to make room for the height of the stills. Another challenge was physically fitting all of the big equipment into a building, within the existing structure.”

The Clonakilty distillery makes Minke Irish Gin, named after the whale that swims the coastline. Rock Samphire, also known as Sea Fennel, is the botanical used to give Minke Irish gin its own distinctive flavour, alongside citrus and aniseed highlights, and the base spirit for the gin is used from whey, produced on their farm. It recently won the award for the best international botanical Gin at the blind tasting American Distilling Institute (ADI) awards.

Clonakilty Single Batch whiskey is a premium whiskey made from eight year old grain and 10 year old triples distilled malt. Recently, the whiskey won double gold in blind tasting at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The double gold means that the whiskey was voted gold by every single judge on the panel. This makes it rated among the finest in the world.

Visitors to the distillery will be able to experience the production of these alcohols in a sensory experience. Michael said:

“Because we’re living in a very promising tourist area, we built the distillery with learning experience in mind so from day one it was designed for the visitor experience.

“There are two buildings, with a link bridge connecting them. When the visitor first comes in they get a history of the area, of Clonakilty and brewing history of the town, and general info. Then they move on and there’s a video room where our story is told. We grow our own barley at the edge of the ocean and mature the whiskey in our maturing warehouse in the family farm of Galley Head Lighthouse.

“Then they’ll move on to the distillery tour. We travelled all over the world to see distilleries and we were very conscious with those that the visitor doesn’t get up close and personal with the product that’s being made. Therefore, we wanted to make this very much a sensory experience so the visitor can touch, feel and smell every part of the process.

“When the tour finishes at the production building, visitors come into the cask room and we tell the story of the casks. We also have a tasting room which can double up as a bar, a high quality event centre and the cask room can also double up at night time as an events centre, so it’s all multifunctional.

“We’ve also got a gin school where the visitors can come and make their own gin, use their own botanicals and then they distil it into their own bottles. It’s all about experiences here; we’re a premium brand with global ambition. This visitor centre is a showcase for our brand and we want to make our visitor experience a really premium experience.”

Alongside this fantastic local and tourist experience is The Whale’s Tail Bistro, boasting the best local food with a sophisticated A La Carte, lunch and dessert menus.

Michael added:

“The Whale’s Tail Bistro is done up in a modern and contemporary style, like it could be in the centre of London or New York and not the edge of the ocean.  Full of open ceilings and kitchens, it is very contemporary for West Cork but we’re showcasing the best food the county has to offer.

“We put a lot of work into sourcing furniture and interior fittings because we wanted to keep it as genuine as possible. The chandeliers are from Berkeley court ballroom in Dublin.”

Clonakilty Distillery are looking forward  to expand the brand; they’re already in four US markets and hope to be in 10 by the end of the year as well as most of the European markets within 12 months.

To find out more about visiting and their whiskey and Gin, visit:

Clonakilty Distillery

Lightplan Ltd

Specialising in the supply of lighting to suit decorative, retail, commercial and industrial applications, Lightplan is the company to contact for your lighting needs.

There are currently twelve Lightplan branches in the UK and Ireland. 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the company’s Cork showroom.

Lightplan has been involved in a number of high-profile projects during its time in operation, more recently including The Montenotte Hotel, Carrigaline Court Hotel, New Maldron Hotel Cork and the Janssen Bio Cork extension. Recently, the company was involved with the brand new Clonakilty Distillery. Working closely with Laszlo Boros, the distillery’s interior designer, Lightplan helped to deliver his overall vision to complement the high profile project.

Larry O’Rourke, Branch Manager, commented:

“We are delighted to be involved with such a high profile project. We believe that the Clonakilty Distillery will develop into a major tourist attraction and we are very proud to have played a part in its development.”

He added:

“We have always believed that Lightplan Cork’s biggest attribute is its staff and our relationship with our customers, which combines to deliver on time projects using the latest lighting technology.”


Latitude Kinsale

Latitude Kinsale specialises in creating unique, bespoke 3D nautical charts. Each 3D nautical chart is painstakingly hand-cut and assembled to create truly individual pieces of art.

Founded in 2003 by Bobby Nash, Latitude Kinsale is able to take any nautical chart and layer the coastline and seabed in 3D form to show contours and depth. It also offers a range of other products including 3D charts, light charts, Gold Coast charts and bespoke chart tables.

The company has received commissions from around the world to create bespoke pieces for private use, superyachts, world yachting event prizes, commercial offices and company receptions. Latitude Kinsale was recently commissioned to create a 3D chart of Clonakilty Bay for the brand new Clonakilty Distillery. The 130cm x 100cm piece has unique surround lighting built in and includes the story of the distillery.

Artist Bobby Nash commented:

“My work is handmade and unique. I am delighted to be associated with what I believe to be an exciting project for the Scully family as they head off on their long and prosperous journey. Quality attracts quality!

“We take pride in creating unique art that can ship around the world. I am able to take commissions from clients who have not seen my work yet and know they will love it. All of my work is original and will be as relevant in 200 years’ time as it is today.”

For more information, please visit

Clonakilty Distillery

DJF Engineering Services

DJF Engineering Services played a key role in the delivery of Clonakilty Distillery, providing Project Management and Civil/Structural/Architectural design services.

DJF has vast experience of providing similar services on projects in the commercial, industrial, retail and residential sectors. Directors Frank Murphy and Seán Hegarty led the Project Design team from feasibility to completion.

At the feasibility stage the DJF team developed solutions for the Distillery layout to satisfy operational, planning, fire safety and cost constraints. The project presented significant challenges in particular as it involved the conversion of an office building originally built for a bank into a working distillery. Floors and foundations that had been built to support office desks had to be strengthened to allow them to support tanks, vessels and stills weighing several tonnes. DJF’s design allowed this to be achieved in a cost effective and unobtrusive manner.

DJF obtained statutory approvals and permits for the Distillery, Visitor Centre and adjoining restaurant before procuring the main contractor for the project. Through construction, DJF certified works and acted as the principal designer.

This challenging project, on a town centre site adjacent to residential buildings, was delivered to an excellent standard under DJF’s direction.

About the author

Roma Publications

Leave a Comment