Walsh Whiskey Distillery, an Ireland-based family-owned distillery, is to expand its business by constructing a new craft distillery at Royal Oak in Carlow, Ireland, with €25m investment from Italian wine and spirits group Illva Saronno.

The facility is expected to be completed by 2016 and will house a new craft distillery, maturation warehouse and visitor centre.

The new distillery, which is estimated to produce 400,000 cases per year, is being built to increase exports.

It will also have a capacity to distill whisky under contract for selected private labels.

Following construction, Illva Saronno, known for its Tia Maria brand, will take 50% share in the company.

The partnership with Illva will allow the distillery to expand its distribution network from current 30 to over 100 countries, including India and China.

Illva Saronno CEO Augusto Reina said with this investment, not only will Illva gain production capacity and expertise in a fast growing sector such as that of Irish whiskey – which is already showing remarkable growth rates and is expected to grow up to 12 million cases within the next five years – but it will also enable Walsh Whiskey Distillery to lean on Illva as a leading business developer both in Italy and abroad.

In addition to 40 temporary jobs during the construction period, the expansion will create 55 new jobs over the next five years.

Ireland enterprise and innovation jobs Minister Richard Bruton said here is an Irish SME that, with the support of Government and Enterprise Ireland in particular, has lifted its ambitions, pursued new markets, and is now creating large numbers of jobs in an area which badly needs them.