Fermanagh-based spirits maker The Boatyard Distillery is the first small producer to gain a licence for tours and own-product sales in its distillery visitor centre on the banks of Lough Erne under new laws brought in on April 6.

The landmark court decision sees the implementation of the first substantial changes to licencing laws in Northern Ireland in 25 years.

The new producer’s licence was successfully brought to court by licensing specialist solicitor, Richard McLaughlin, of law firm McMahon McKay, on Monday, April 25.

The licence was granted on Monday, meaning that the distillery can now sell its alcohol products on site, allowing distillery visitors to enjoy its world-class spirits on a tour as well as to buy a bottle from the new retail shop to take home.

Talking to The Impartial Reporter about how the previous licencing laws impacted the company, Joe McGirr, the founder of The Boatyard Distillery, said: “The laws were very archaic and meant that we were unable to sell our produce to people.

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“As we are in a rural setting, most people have travelled a very long way to come and see us, only to be told they cannot purchase [from us at the site]. Most people don’t really understand this concept, and it has traditionally been a challenge to try and explain.”

When asked by this newspaper if he has any plans to develop new products to sell on site, now that the licencing laws have changed, Joe responded: “We do plan some distillery-only bottlings, so watch this space!

“We’ll be releasing details on our website newsletter and social media in the coming weeks and months.”

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The Boatyard Distillery was founded by Joe in 2016 in Co. Fermanagh and focuses on crafting premium spirits that combine quality with provenance and heritage.