Dr Terry Cross, an entrepreneur and founder of Delta Print & Packaging firm, has announced plans to build a whiskey and gin distillery in County Down, Northern Ireland.

Covering 30,0000ft2 space, the Hinch Distillery will be built with an investment of £15m ($19m) at a site located between Belfast and Ballynahinch, which will be opened next year.

The distillery will be used for producing Craft Hinch Irish whiskey and Ninth Wave Gin brands and will also feature a visitor centre, which can accommodate more than 100,000 visitors annually.

Additionally, the visitor centre will include a coffee shop, restaurant, pub, retail shop and events spaces.

Cross said: “Irish whiskey has continually been the fastest-growing spirit category in the world over the last 10 years, nearly trebling in size.

“This trend is forecast to continue in the future with Irish whiskey beginning to approach and indeed overtake sales of Scotch in many international markets.

“The world gin market has also witnessed a phenomenal growth in the last few years yet still has huge potential to grow in markets where gin is still a relatively small category.”

To support the distillery project, expected to create employment opportunities and economic benefits to the region, Economic development agency Invest Northern Ireland has provided £1.9m ($2.5m).

The agency will use the amount provided for the construction and purchase of machinery and equipment.

Hinch Distillery will be a two-storey building and feature offices, storage facilities, whiskey and gin production and bottling lines.

Cross will be the chairman of Hinch Distillery and Aaron Flaherty, a native of Belfast will serve as the head distiller, while Derek Hardy has been named managing director.