Beam Inc, the new owners of the Kilbeggan Distillery, unveiled the fully restored waterwheel at what is reputed to be the world’s oldest distillery at a ceremony attended by local community leaders.
The €70,000 restoration project was led by Industrial Archaeologist Fred Hamond with Pat Sheehan Sawmills Ltd of Cahir, and Athy Foundry in Kildare supplying the timberwork and ironwork respectively.
The Waterwheel restoration project is part of Beam’s strategy to invest in marketing Kilbeggan Distillery as a top tourist destination. Distillery visitor numbers are up 40% on this time last year following an investment in permanent marketing positions at the Distillery. Beam had originally targeted a 25% increase in visitor numbers by the end of 2012.
A new interactive Kilbeggan Distillery website is being developed which will facilitate online sales, the broadcast of live distillery footage and the hosting of digital tours. A weighty international digital marketing campaign will promote the distillery in overseas markets. Beam has increased spend in marketing support for the distillery fivefold since taking over in January.
Stephen Teeling, Senior Global Brand Manager, Irish Whiskey at Beam, commented, “The Kilbeggan Distillery waterwheel is one of the most iconic landmarks of the Irish midlands and we are delighted that we could bring it back to its former glory.
Kilbeggan Distillery dates back to 1757 and Irish whiskey is the fastest growing whiskey category in the world. There is massive potential to attract whiskey lovers from all over the world to Kilbeggan Distillery. Whiskey tourism is a growing sector and we will continue to invest in marketing the Kilbeggan Distillery Experience so that Kilbeggan and the rest of the midlands can benefit from increased numbers of visitors to the area.”