Diageo has announced plans to re-enter the Irish whiskey market after selling Bushmills two years ago.
With its eye on the premiumisation trend and rising demand for Irish whiskey worldwide, the spirits giant will be investing £18.6 million in new distillery in Dublin.
The multi-million pound project is due to be implemented over three years from 2019, and will also see the creation of a new brand, Roe & Co., which will be made from a blend of Irish malt and grain whiskies and aged in bourbon casks.
Roe and Co. is the first foray into the Irish whiskey category for Diageo for two years since it sold Bushmills to Jose Cuervo in exchange for Don Julio tequila, at a time when tequila sales on the rise.
Since then, Irish whiskey has seen a sharp rise in international sales.
Minister for agriculture, food and the marine, Michael Creed TD, said the venture comes at an opportune time for the growing Irish whiskey industry.
“Irish Whiskey is seeing a return to the success it experienced in its golden era in the 19th century and is now the fastest growing spirit drink in the world with global sales increasing by over 300% and record exports of over €400 million (Irish Whiskey Association, December 2016) in the last ten years.
“The Irish Whiskey market has a great story to tell and today’s announcement marks an exciting new chapter in its development.”
Roe & Coe. is named after George Roe, a prominent 19th century whiskey maker and one of the key figures in Irish whiskey’s heyday.
His distillery extended over 17 acres on Thomas Street in Dublin and for years, George Roe & Co and Guinness formed the hub of Dublin’s historic brewing and distilling quarter.
Guinness’s former home on Thomas Street will be converted in the home of Diageo’s new St. James’s Gate distillery, close to where the original George Roe & Co distillery once stood.
Subject to planning approval, production will begin in the first half of 2019.
Diageo has a number of whiskies in its portfolio, including Scotches Johnnie Walker, JεB and Buchanan’s and Canadian whiskeys Crown Royal and Windsor.
Tanya Clarke, general manager of Reserve Europe, explained how the new brand will sit within their portfolio: “In crafting Roe & Co. we explored the demands of today’s consumers for more premium drinking experiences and the desire of bartenders for an adaptable, flavourful whiskey that works in both traditional and new cocktails.”
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