Lets drink to that!

John Teeling’s Irish Whiskey Company will spend €35m over the next four years transforming the Great Northern Brewery in Dundalk, Co Louth.

It was announced yesterday that the company had reached agreement with the site’s current parent, Diageo, over its future ownership.

While the acquisition cost has not been disclosed, Mr Teeling said the €35m spend covers the purchase price, build-out costs, and general working capital for the site — which will be renamed the Great Northern Distillery and formally change hands next February.

The second largest brewing facility in Ireland — behind St James’s Gate — the Dundalk site had been earmarked for closure as part of Diageo’s plans to centralise all of its Irish-based brewing operations in Dublin.

The company has been using the Great Northern Brewery to brew the Harp, Smithwicks, and Carlsberg brands for the Irish market — all of which will now move to St James’s Gate.

Diageo will now make the site environmentally safe for the formal handover and it should be fully operational as a whiskey-producing site next summer.

The Irish Whiskey Company’s plan is threefold: To produce own-label Irish whiskey for retailers worldwide, make bulk whiskey for brand owners with no distillery assets, and provide grain whiskey for smaller pot still distilleries.

“Irish whiskey sales continue to grow at double-digit rates — a trend that is expected to continue,” Mr Teeling said.

“As the industry grows, segments emerge. Irish Whiskey Company will supply segments not currently served at all, or — at best — poorly served. Dundalk will be an efficient low-cost quality distillery.”

The company will employ 20 people but plans to grow its staff numbers and hasn’t ruled out building a visitor centre at the Dundalk site.

Diageo also welcomed the deal, calling it a vote of confidence in Dundalk and a move which will help ensure “that the town remains an important economic hub in the north-east”.

Diageo said by centralising its brewing in Dublin, it has secured the future of beer brewing in Ireland “well into the future”. Source: Irish Examiner