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Bono reported to be investing in Irish whiskey distillery

U2 frontman Bono is reported to be investing in a €50m whiskey project in county Kildare which will involve an old mill being converted into a 5,051 square-metre distillery and visitor centre.

Image: Facebook @U2

As reported by The Times, Bono, whose real name is Paul David Hewson, is investing in a whiskey distillery project being led by Irish property investor and business owner Paddy McKillen.

According to a planning application sent to Kildare County Council Planning Office by Jewelfield Ltd on 10 September, McKillen’s project involves “an artisan distillery and visitor centre” measuring 5,051.4 square-metres, of which 2,528 square-metres is existing and 3,523.4 square-metres is new build.

According to the The Times, McKillen is leading the project to develop Ballykelly Mill, near Monasterevin which will see the site transformed into a distillery and visitor centre complete with tasting rooms, exhibition space and a roof garden and viewing area.

Speaking to the paper, he said that his aim was to “revive Monasterevin’s rich heritage in producing the finest whiskey going right back to the 18th century.

“We’re investing €50m into this initial phase, which is the start of a long-term strategy. It fits very well with our existing hospitality businesses and the great global interest in Irish whiskey,” he added.

A distillery by the name of Cassidy’s once operated in the area, while planning permission was given to a smaller distillery operating out of the mill in 2015.

McKillen and son Paddy McKillen Jr own hospitality group Press Up which operates 28 hotels, bars, restaurants, venues and nightclubs in Ireland. Friends and business partners, Bono and McKillen Snr co-own the Clarence Hotel in Dublin.

The Times understands that McKillen is taking control of the project with Bono providing financial support.

If the plans are approved, Bono will join a growing list of celebrities with interests in the alcohol industry including Sir Ian Botham, 50 Cent and Graham Norton.

The Irish whiskey industry sold 9.7 million cases globally in 2017, an increase of 10.6%, according to the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA), with the sector in a “strong position” to surpass its 2020 target of 12m cases.

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