The first whiskey cask to be opened in Connacht in more than a century carries an estimated value of around €100,000.

Up to 200 people witnessed the first cask-opening in 104 years in the province yesterday at The Shed Distillery in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim.

The cask was one of a number of the first-ever to be distilled at The Shed in 2014, with the distillery founders - PJ and Denise Rigney - officially opening it.

Following an official tasting, the cask was resealed and put back into hibernation. 

The majority of the casks distilled three years ago were bought by investors and collectors, including Prince Albert of Monaco and Count Carl Graf Von Hardenberg of the German drinks dynasty.

Based on initial sale values from the casks, The Shed says the average value of each one is coming in at around €100,000.

Once fully operational, the distillery aims to produce up to 250,000 litres of whiskey annually.

The Co Leitrim distillery has 18 full-time employees and plans to bring that number to 30 with the launch of a €1.5m visitor experience next year.

The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland welcomed the announcement of the first Connacht whiskey cask opening in Connacht since 1913.

ABFI Director Patricia Callan said: "The whiskey industry makes a hugely positive contribution to the Irish economy, as it continues to grow apace."

She added the announcement "from The Shed distillery is another sign that the Irish whiskey renaissance is continuing at a promising rate.  

"Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirits category in the world, with sales of premium Irish whiskey up by 135 per cent in the last five years. Exports grew rapidly again in 2017.

"The number of distilleries operating in Ireland has grown from just four a few years ago to 18 now, and there are 16 more with planning permission."