The Nephin distillery is under construction in the village of Lahardane. When completed, we will be offering guests full access tours, so you'll be able to see every stage of the Whiskey being made. We've been to enough "visitor experiences" where there's lots of audio-visuals but you don't get to see the process up close and personal, to know how frustrating that is for real Whiskey lovers.
Even before the construction is complete, we always have a warm welcome for guests to the village of Lahardane. In our small shop, you can meet and talk to the Nephin team who will be delighted to show you the distillery plans, show you the construction in progress and guide you around the village to see the barley, the turf and the beautiful attractions the village has to offer including the Titanic memorial garden, the stained glass windows and the 2 wonderfully authentic Irish pubs.
After visiting the village, there are almost endless options to continue your trip and anyone at Nephin be delighted to give suggestions. For active adventurers we would recommend climbing the mountain itself - at 2,646ft it's a great days hiking and features stunning views over the Mayo countryside. For fishermen or hunters, the area is teeming with options including renting a lake boat and fishing for brown trout on Lough Conn.
The drive around Lough Conn is about 60km and has stunning views of the lake, plenty of picnic areas to stop and enjoy and we would recommend visiting Belleek Castle in Ballina and the beautiful Foxford Wollen Mills along your route.
The founders of Nephin Whiskey Paul and Jude and their 3 children drove through the small village of Lahardane, one wet August day while on a family holiday. On entering the village they noticed the natural friendliness of people they met and experienced the slow pace of village life in Lahardane, which is an oasis from the non-stop globalized world.
Paul recognized the area as fisherman's paradise and convinced Jude to buy a small house in the village where they spent many summers with the family and many years unsuccessfully fishing on Lough Conn. They found themselves spending more and more time in Lahardane and were warmly welcomed into the community, not as outsiders but as a part of village life.
Paul realized that Lahardane was the perfect place to make a very special Whiskey - it has crystal clear water coming from Nephin mountain and is surrounded by bog. Using turf in the malting of barley is associated now with Scotch whiskey but would have been an Irish tradition long before it was Scottish. It has died out in Ireland over the centuries but an idea to revive that tradition was taking hold in Lahardane.
Jude had the skills to setup and manage a world-class production operation and Paul would ensure that the craft and tradition, that he had witnessed so often in Scotland would be a core part of the new distillery. The couple teamed up with Mark Quick, whom Paul had met while he was running a procurement software company. Mark had since sold that company and when Paul told him of the idea he jumped into action. He grew up in Attymass, a village on the opposite side of Lough Conn from Lahardane. Mark approached the Mayo Local Enterprise Office and they became immediate supporters of the project, assisting through contacts, advice and grant funding.
The new team identified a location right in the middle of the village but back from the street that had 2 buildings on the main street that would be a perfect visitor centre, a large building at the rear which could be converted to a distillery and it even had an old stone Granary from the 1800s, which would be ideal for maturation and as a showcase for guests. Local water diviner Padraig McNeely was asked to identify the location of water which could be used as the Nephin spring. Padraig criss-crossed the distillery site and found two distinct sources of water flowing underground. The location that has become the Nephin source had a flow so strong that the rod reaction visibly impacted the diviner's arm.
*From distillery website 20 July 2017
Nephin Whiskey Company, Lahardane, Co. Mayo, Ireland.