The ambitious project is being progressed by Killaney Estates Ltd, which is owned and managed by Belfast entrepreneur Dr Terry Cross OBE.
Dr Cross already owns a hugely successful vineyard, Chateau de La Ligne in the Bordeaux region of France. But the development at Killaney Lodge will be the company’s first dedicated whiskey site.
Having recently secured planning approval for the development, Dr Cross hopes the distillery will boost Northern Irish spirit exports while generating employment in the local area, creating around six new jobs.
It’s hoped construction work will commence in Spring 2018, with further plans being developed to expand the business at other locations across the region.
The development at Killaney Lodge - built in 1859 by the Marquis of Downshire - will include a craft distillery, visitor centre, barrel store and bottling plant, all specifically designed by Downpatrick-based architects The Bowsie Partnership to take account of nearby listed buildings.
Delighted that the project has been given the green light by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council planners, Dr Cross said: “We are keen to grow this market and promote Killaney’s unique and highly accessible location to the capital city while ensuring that the design of project was sympathetic to the rural location.”
Also welcoming the planning approval, Matthew Doak of Clyde Shanks Planning said: “This determination is further evidence that Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council are responsive and welcome early engagement to well thought out projects. We are delighted to have been involved in this exciting scheme.”
DUP Councillor Luke Poots, Chairman of the council’s Planning Committee, added: “This is positive news for the local economy and I am pleased to see the success of the company’s French experience being built upon in Northern Ireland.”