We've always worshipped the drink in this country, but Alltech founder Pearse Lyons is taking the concept to extremes with his new distillery and visitor centre in the old Anglican church on St James Street in Dublin.
The planning application for the near €5 million project will be submitted to Dublin City Council in the next few weeks. The pot stills – dear lord – will sit in place of the altar. Lyons also paid about €35,000 to the Church of Ireland to buy out old covenants attached to the property preventing the use of alcohol.
Alltech, which hosts a craft beer and food fair in the Convention Centre today and tomorrow, has always been a bit of a family affair – Lyons’s wife Deirdre, Alltech’s corporate image director, will oversee the renovation project.
The family links don’t stop there, however. When he bought the church last year Lyons, who has been based in the US for decades, had no idea his grandfather, John Hubert Lyons, is buried in the graveyard out the back.
“I remember when I was a kid going to his funeral in that part of the city so I knew he was buried somewhere in the vicinity. But I didn’t know where.”
The renovation will begin as soon as it gets planning permission. Barring hiccups, Lyons is hopeful it will be in full production and open for visitors early next year.
Lyons bought the two stills for the distillery in 2012, before he acquired the church. They have been dossing down in the Carlow Brewing Company ever since, although they have already produced more than 600 barrels of whiskey, which is still maturing.
When the renovation of the church is complete the stills will be sent up to Dublin from Carlow to take their place under the stained glass window.
Now that’s what you call a religious conversion.