Echlinville Distillery has unveiled plans to enhance its production capacity in Northern Ireland and to increase its Irish whiskey brand portfolio with an investment of £9m.

With funding from Invest Northern Ireland (Invest NI), the Kircubbin, Newtownards based distillery intends to increase the footprint of its gin brands in the global market.

Invest Northern Ireland CEO Kevin Holland said: “Since establishing in 2012, Echlinville Distillery has developed a number of well-established brands which are making their mark on the international whiskey and gin market.

“This investment will enable it to grow further and develop its portfolio of award-winning products. With an emphasis on brand development, it will also drive growth in global sales of its premium and ultra-premium Irish whiskey and gin.

As part of this initiative, Invest NI will provide funding of £659,000 to Echlinville Distillery for purchasing of new equipment and extend its storage facilities.

The investment will see the creation of a new visitors centre, as well as 36 new employment opportunities in the Ards & North Down Borough Council area.

The distillery will be recruiting in operational, administrative and visitor centre departments.

Echlinville Distillery owner Shane Braniff said: “This investment will help us to substantially increase our production capacity and grow our export sales tenfold over the next five years. We are adding capacity in distillation, bottling, labelling, storage and brand development, all of which are key to further establishing our brands in major international markets including Russia and the US.”

“As Northern Ireland’s first farm distillery, our whiskey has ‘field to glass’ traceability – something that is increasingly important in the global food and drink industry.

“We have built a strong reputation based on that approach and the quality of our products. Irish Whiskey is recognised as the world’s fastest-growing spirits category, which is giving us a great foundation upon which to build our export business with the help of this funding from Invest NI.”