Newry Whiskey Returns after 100 Year Absence

Newry.ie 18 March 2020 By Columba O’Hare

With uncertainty being the new certainty in the world it really is reassuring to see the physical return of an iconic local brand after over a hundred years of absence. Newry based Matt DʼArcy Whiskey has returned with two new releases a 17-year-old single malt and a 10-year-old blend, aimed at the super premium and premium whiskey markets respectively. The relaunch of Matt DʼArcy & Co Limited heralds the revival of whiskey production in the South Ulster region: a designated area of outstanding natural beauty that has centuries of heritage in the distillation of whiskey.

Matt DʼArcyʼs super-premium whiskey is a 17-year-old single malt limited edition of only 384 numbered bottles. Prior to hand bottling, the liquid has spent twelve months finishing in a rum cask: a reference to the Barbadian rum barrels that once arrived in the merchant city of Newry via its famous canal. That same canal provided a reverse gateway to Matt DʼArcy Whiskey achieving its world class reputation in the 19th Century. This exceptional whiskey is bottled in handblown Italian crystal glass: each one unique in shape. The equally unique spirit has a distinctive light spiciness with subtle notes of honey, vanilla, apple sweetness, almonds, cinnamon and plum providing a warm, rewarding after-taste.

“I’ve been told that this will be the single wisest investment of my life in business”

Belfast Telegraph 31 July 2018 By Margaret Canning

Michael McKeown tells Margaret Canning about his proposed Newry whiskey distillery, selling his claims company and having drive and personality.

After growing up listening to his parents Kitty and Terry assess their drinks business contacts on their “drive” and “personality”, it’s fair to say Michael McKeown has taken those attributes on board.

At the age of 72, after selling accident management company Crash Services to his son Jonathan, Michael is working on opening a whiskey distillery in Newry as he revives an old brand from the area, Matthew D’Arcy.

The £7.3m Matthew D’Arcy & Company Distillery, Bar, Restaurant and Visitor Centre on Monaghan Street was granted planning permission by Newry and Mourne District Council this month.

Michael is also an avid historian and a trustee of the Cardinal O Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive in Armagh. In his spare time he has amassed papers relating to the old Newry merchant family the Carvills and written his own book on Newry history.

It’s all about the energy he has given to his projects, something which was inspired by his upbringing as one of 11 children in Annaghmore.

His parents had set up a drinks supply and off-licence business, Reihill- McKeown. Father Terry had worked as a barman and apple preserver before embarking as a supplier in the drinks trade.

Michael says: “Anything I’ve ever had has always experienced rapid growth arising from severe application of energy.

“I remember sitting at the table with my father and mother and siblings. The business would be being discussed. What struck me most was that my father and mother would discuss someone else in business or someone who was trading with them in some way.

“They used to say that person ‘has great drive’. He has ‘great personality’.

“They discussed everyone in terms of degree of drive and personality. I grew up thinking all you had to do to succeed is improve drive and personality.”

Michael’s story in business suggests his mother and father may have been on to something.

Newry is to gain a £7.3m DʼArcy whiskey distillery and visitor centre.

Blooloop 10 July 2018

Permission has been granted for a ‘world classʼ tourist attraction in the Northern Irish city.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council have granted permission for the new development on Monaghan Street, reports The Irish Times. It will include a distillery alongside a bar, restaurant and visitor centre.

The project will take the site back to its roots – it had housed DʼArcyʼs Old Irish Whiskey since 1817. The hope is that the new distillery will produce in the region of 9,000 cases of single-malt Matthew DʼArcy & Company whiskey per year.

The project is being backed by Newry businessman and entrepreneur Michael McKeown who bought the site last February. The director of Matthew DʼArcy & Company Ltd. said the project has been a passion of his for some time and that he hopes to transform the landmark site into a “flagship international tourist attraction.”

“Iʼm thrilled that we are now moving forward with enthusiasm and that the benefits of this great asset will be felt by the business and hospitality sectors locally and nationally,” he added.

Visitors centre, Victorian bar and restaurant

The £7.3 million investment will be spread over three years and the overall project is expected to reach around 14,000 square feet over several floors. The plans include the recreation of a Victorian bar alongside a restaurant and international visitors centre.

It is likely that, once the centre is completed, it will create around 50 hospitality jobs. In addition, it will employ a master distiller and staff with cooperage skills.

“Our ambition is to create a world class tourist offering through the restoration of the 200 year old site famous for whiskey distillation,” said Andrew Cowan, chief executive of Matt DʼArcy & Company. Cowan has over 20 yearsʼ experience in both the whiskey business and tourism. He has worked with a range of Irish brands, including Jameson. He was also responsible for The Gathering 2013 which brought in the region of 275,000 visitors to Ireland.

“Our ultimate aim is to produce around 9,000 cases per year of single malt and to retain stocks for at least 10 years aimed at the premium market,” he said. “For some years now, we have been maturing our own whiskey off site and will release a premium matured merchant Irish Whiskey in early 2019 prior to distilling at the Monaghan Street location on completion of the Newry to gain £7.3m DʼArcy whiskey distillery and visitor centre 18/09/2020, 10)28 construction phase.”