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WHILE    the    old    Snia    /    Saehan    factory    at    Hazelwood    remains closed    over    winter,    its    owners    are    busy    preparing    to    build    a whiskey   distillery   there   that   will   put   Sligo   on   the   international drinks map.     Dave    Raethorne    of    Hazelwood    Demesne    Ltd    this    week    gave Progressive   Sligo   an   update   on   plans   to   produce   a   premium   brand whiskey with world-wide appeal at the former factory.     While    they    are    working    with    Sligo    County    Council    to    get planning     permission,     they     are     also     pushing     ahead     with preparations for making a top range unique whiskey. Dave   said:      “Our   product   will   be   something   that   Sligo   can   be proud   of.      The   whiskey   will   be   at   the   upper   premium   end   of   the market, above anything that is available in Ireland at the moment”.    He   said   that   most   of   their   work   at   the   moment   relates   to   creating the   whiskey   brand.   “To   that   end   we   are   working   with   a   prestigious UK   branding   agency   called   JKR,   who   have   helped   brands   such   as Budweiser, Courvoisier, Jura and Molton Brown”.    In   terms   of   work   done   so   far   at   the   site,   they   have   re-roofed   the west   wing   of   Hazelwood   House   and   have   made   the   entire   structure watertight.    “Basically,   not   a   lot   physically   has   happened   there   yet   because   we are waiting on planning permission.    “We   currently   have   four   local   people   employed   on   site   full   time, including   a   landscape   gardener   and   we   are   working   primarily   on the site rather than the buildings”.     The    site    now    has    24-hour    security    and    a    network    of    CCTV cameras to keep it secure. Hazelwood     Demesne     Ltd     submitted     an     elaborate     planning application    on    September    2    last    for    a    facility    with    several attractions   The   planners   requested   further   information   from   the
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NEW YEAR UPDATE ON PLANS From Progressive Sligo
(below)   An   artist's   impression   of   what   the large   new   elegant   stills   at   the   front   of   the building will look like.
company on October 22.   Dave   said   they   have   now   compiled   the   information   requested.      “The council came back seeking additional information and seeking clarification in a   number   of   areas.   “We   are   in   the   process   of   putting   together   that   for   them   at the   moment.      That   should   be   completed   within   days   now.      Hopefully   we   will have planning permission within the next month or two”.   The   planning   application   is   for   alterations   and   change   of   use   of   the former   20,170   sqm   large   factory   to   a   whiskey   distillery   including   ancillary bonded    warehouse    storage,    distillation    plant    areas    and    offices.   A    cafe    / restaurant/retail   area   occupying   1,740   sqm   is   also   planned   along   with   visitor tour and staff facilities and associated services occupying 18,430 sqm.   The     project     includes     external     and     internal     refurbishment     of Hazelwood House (2,277 sqm) to provide a visitor centre.   The   works   will   also   involve   the   removal   of   the   external   stair   to   the east   of   the   house,   the   creation   of   a   new   glazed   entrance   in   the   adjacent   east courtyard,   together   with   a   new   glazed   external   passenger   lift   installation   to the   west   elevation   and   external   ground   works.   A   terraced   /   deck   area   to   the rear    of    the    house    and    a    water    feature/pond    over    existing    parking    area between the formal garden of the house and factory/new distillery is planned.   The   basement,   portions   of   the   ground,   first   and   second   floors   will serve   tours   of   the   house   and   as   ancillary   museum   /   exhibition   areas   together with   whiskey   historical   information   and   tasting   areas   integrated   in   a   distillery tour. It   is   proposed   to   use   portions   of   the   ground   floor   and   western   out   building   as a    restaurant    /    tea    rooms    and    to    use    portions    of    the    second    floor    as    an executive    office    and    boardroom    together    with    two    executive    residential suites.   Craft   workshops   /   trade   displays   are   planned   at   existing   567   sqm stables to the east of the site. An   existing   surface   car   park   will   be   reconfigured   to   provide   237   car   parking and 5 coach parking spaces.  
The now disused factory was opened by Italian company Snia in 1971
The   company   intend   to   set   the   ball   rolling   on   building   the   distillery   as   soon   as   they   get   the   planning   go-ahead.   But   Dave   said   they   are   more concerned   about   taking   the   time   required   to   ensure   a   premium   product   than   delivering   it   quickly.   “I’m   aware   there   are   quite   a   few   other   distilleries setting up and their goal would be to start quickly and produce product as early as possible.    “That   is   not   what   we   are   about.   We   are   working   to   create   a   long-term   sustainable   project.”   He   said   that   as   soon   as   they   get   the   planning   go-ahead   they will   start   ordering   in   the   equipment   needed.     At   the   same   time   they   will   start   building   works.   “But   the   time   scale   may   depend   on   where   we   decide   to   buy equipment from. We have not yet fully decided on where we will go for the large copper stills”.   The   stills   are   made   by   hand.   Some   of   the   top   firms   supplying   them   could   take   18   months   to   deliver   because   of   the   time   required   to   build   them   and the   backlog   of   work   they   have   on   hand.   “Some   firms   can   do   them   quicker   but   they   are   not   available   anywhere   off   the   shelf.   Wherever   we   decide   to   buy from   will   have   a   big   impact   on   the   length   of   the   project   until   we   produce   our   first   batch   of   whiskey.      “We   are   more   concerned   about   getting   top   quality than   getting   it   done   quickly. This   distillery   is   going   to   around   for   a   long   time   so   it’s   not   something   we   are   going   to   rush   so   as   to   gain   a   month   or   two”.   Dave said   that   they   are   aiming   at   creating   a   world-class   brand   whiskey   and   making   Hazelwood   a   world-class   destination.   “We   are   very   excited   about   it   and   we are confident we are going to come up with something special”.  
Dave Raethorne of Hazelwood Demesne
IN THE MEANTIME   .  .  .  Last year the company opened the old factory for a large exhibition called Magnetism? But the owners are not in a position to decide if it that will happen this year.  Dave said:  “We cannot say yet if the premises will be open to the public again this year.   “That will depend on the timing and scale of the building work going on.  If there is a lot of construction this year, the site could be dangerous for public access”.   “In an ideal world we would like to open again but at this stage I cannot say.  The aim is to open it to the public as soon as possible.   “One option might be to let people come on site to see the building work in progress if it would be confined to just one area of the large plant, but the focus will be on safety”, Dave concluded. (left ) Part of last year’s Magnetism exhibition  
Free counters!
Hazelwood House Gets Distillery Green Light          From the Sligo Champion     By Sorcha Crowley OWNERS   of   Hazelwood   House,   David   and   Sue   Raethorne   have   spoken   of   their   delight   at   finally   being   granted   permission   to transform the former Saehan Media factory into a major tourist attraction for the North West. Speaking   exclusively   to   The   Sligo   Champion,   David   said   "We're   delighted.   The   planning   conditions   were   all   to   be   expected.   We're   very happy with it" "Sligo   County   Council   has   been   fantastic   to   work   with   in   terms   of   the   process   of   planning.   In   fairness,   they   had   to   ask   for   a   lot   of information but they did make the process as easy as they could for us' he said. The   planning   permission   includes   the   restoration   of   Hazelwood   House   to   its   former   l8th   century   glory   and   conversion   of   the   old   factory to an exclusive whiskey distillery. It   was   the   first   Palladian   building   designed   in   Ireland   by   Leinster   House   architect   Richard   Cassels   in   1730.   Over   the   centuries   it's been an aristocratic home for the landed gentry, occupied by an army squadron and used as a psychiatric hospital. Now   a   new   chapter   is   beginning   with   plans   for   a   visitor   centre,   museum/exhibition   areas,   whiskey   historical   exhibition   and   "tasting   area along with a restaurant and tea-rooms. The   former   videotape   factory   will   be   turned   into   a   modern   whiskey   distillery   warehouse,   visitor   tour   and   staff   facilities   and another   cafe/restaurant   and   retail   centre.   The   nearby   stables   will   also   be   restored   and   opened   as   craft   workshops   and   trade   display   areas.   The   site   has   under   24-hour   security   as ground   preparation   work   is   underway.      The   first   sod   is   not   expected   to   be   turned   until   2018   under   the   owners   ten   year   phased   plan,   with   the   installation   of   the   distillery   plant scheduled for 2019 and completion of phase 1 in the factory due in 2020. "From   our   perspective   a   lot   depends   on   funding   and   how   the   distillery   goes,"   David   told   this   newspaper "That plan is the worst case scenario - if we can do things quicker we will move quicker than that’ he said. The   Dublin   entrepreneur   would   like   to   host   similar   art   events   on   the   estate   to   the   Magnetism   exhibition   staged   in the   factory   last   year.   ‘If   there's   a   lot   of   construction   work   going   on   it's   not   possible   but   we   still   have   options   around the site. We’re thinking of something sculptural perhaps but it could be 2017 before that happens," he said. ‘We   need   to   gather   our   thoughts,   sit   down   and   plan   now.   There   will   be   a   whole   series   of   announcements made then over the summer' said. David. Sligo   planners   attached   28   conditions   to   the   permission.   The   owners   must   submit   a   report   annually   providing details   of   the   work   done   the   previous   year.   The   proposed   conservation   works   to   Hazelwood   House   shall   be   carried out   under   the   supervision   of   a   conservation   architect.   Under   "no   circumstances’   shall   any   water   be   extracted   from the Garavogue River or Lough Gill for uses associated with the distillery. From the Irish Times
Dave Raethorne Hazelwood Owner
Permission granted for distillery at Sligo’s Hazelwood House Production of single malt whiskey to start in the Lough Gill distillery within 12-18 months Hazelwood House in Co Sligo, which was considered one of Ireland’s most at-risk Palladian mansions just two years ago, is set to be restored. Sligo County Council has granted planning permission for the restoration of the historic house which was constructed for the Wynne family on the shores of Lough Gill in the early 1700s. The owners have also been granted permission to transform a former factory in the grounds of the historic estate into a whiskey distillery and visitors’ centre, incorporating a cafe/restaurant and retail centre. Hazelwood House was designed by architect Richard Cassels, who also designed Leinster House, Powerscourt House and Russborough House. Software developer David Raethorne, whose company Hazelwood Demesne Limited bought the estate in December 2014, said production of single malt whiskey would begin in the Lough Gill distillery on the estate within 12-18 months. “In the meantime whiskey will be distilled to our specifications at The Shed distillery in Drumshanbo, ” he said. Tourist attraction The businessman hopes to convert the property into a flagship tourist attraction. He said a lot of work had already been done making the house safe, especially in the west wing. Under the 10-year planning permission, the former factory, built in the 1960s, will be adapted as a 1,700sq m distillery and visitors’ centre. Mr Raethorne said this would be phase one of the project but he was unclear what the timeline would be for the restoration of the house. “It has been there for 300 years so whether it takes three years or five years, the important thing for us is to get it right,” he said