The licence to distil dates to 1759; a copy of which can be seen in the distillery.
John Locke took over the distillery in 1843, from when it remained in the hands of the Locke family for many years, being inherited by Mary Evelyn and Florence Emily, granddaughters of John Locke, in 1943. In 1947 the distillery was purchased by The Transworld Trust. During the prohibition period in the United States, a poor quality moonshine named Locke's was produced and, although unconnected with the whiskey produced in Kilbeggan, Locke's reputation suffered as a result. This, together with the economic depression of the 1920s and 1930s, took its toll on Locke's and on 19 March 1954 production ceased, with the distillery closing completely in 1957.
Today the distillery is home to a museum and restaurant, and has a 19th century waterwheel that is in working condition.
Whiskey production recommenced in 2007, the year in which the distillery celebrated its 250th anniversary. Although the whiskey now in production at Kilbeggan will not be ready for sale until 2014, the three brands associated with the distillery—Kilbeggan, Locke's Blend and Locke's Malt—have, for many years, been made at the Cooley Distillery in County Louth from where they are transported to Kilbeggan to be stored in a granite warehouse over 200 years old.
The distillery's visitor centre was amongst the nominations in Whisky Magazine's Icons of Whisky visitor attraction category in 2008.