At Blackwater Distillery we get calls at least on a weekly basis from people wanting to set up a distillery. Nothing wrong with that and we are happy to talk, after all, others helped us. But of late we are getting a lot of what I call ‘taxi driver buying real-estate in Spain’ calls. When I returned to Ireland in 2005 I remember taxi driver after taxi driver telling me how they knew nothing about property yet they were building their property portfolio in Spain/Bulgaria/Virgin Islands. Anyway, we all know what happened next.

So if you are serious, stop sitting on your hands and get them dirty.


The first thing is to think about what you want to distil. There’s a huge difference between making gin and whiskey and I can’t help you with that. Everything starts with this decision and knowing what you want to make will tell you what still you need, if you need a mash tun and fermenters etc.

The second thing you do is talk to your local Revenue office.

Next, put together a business plan. You will need lots of money to buy gear, but you will also need lots of money to package, market and sell.

Learn the difference between a bond and a deferred payment guarantee and find a friendly bank.

Go to your off-licence and talk to the owner. Look for the gap in the market you can fill. Having a ‘better gin/vodka/poteen’ is not good enough, after all, no one has an ugly baby.


In April we held a day-long Distilling Workshop and I am happy to say that two of the participants are now well on their way to gin heaven and both have compelling offers. So it can be done, but as well as asking for help you have to help yourself.