Go-ahead given for new whiskey distillery

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The go-ahead has been given for a factory building which has in the past manufactured nylon yarn and video tapes to now produce whiskey.

Planning permission has been granted by Sligo County Council this week for the ambitious plans to restore the 18th century Hazelwood House and to turn the massive adjoining factory building into a distillery and visitor centre.

The present owners of the historic estate, Dublin-based couple David and Sue Raethorne, hope to turn Hazelwood House into a major national tourist attraction, which will attract thousands of visitors a year.

The planning permission is for alterations and change of use of the former 20,000 sq metre Saehan Media factory, in which a South Korean company manufactured VHS video tapes from 1987 to 2005. The factory, which covers five acres, was built in 1969 by Italian company Snia to manufacture nylon yarn but it closed in 1983.

The building will undergo a major facelift to give it a more attractive appearance.

Hazelwood House itself is to undergo an extensive restoration to become a visitor centre. It is proposed to have tours of the house and to have museum/exhibition areas, together with whiskey history information and tasting areas integrated in a distillery tour.

It is also planned to have a restaurant/tea rooms, two executive residential suites and to convert the styables to craft workshops/trade displays.

The property was bought by David and Sue Raethorne in December 2014.

Previously, the estate was bought in 2006 by Foresthaze Developments, a consortium of mostly local businessmen for €10m. In 2007 they applied for permission to build 158 detached houses and 54 apartments in four blocks but their planning application was refused.

The property was put up for sale in 2013, with a guide price of €2.5m, that was reduced to €550,000 and the estate was sold in December 2014 for an undisclosed sum.

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