Irish Whiskey Company buys Great Northern Brewery from Diageo

Diageo and the Irish Whiskey Company (IWC) have announced an agreement over the future ownership of the Great Northern Brewery site in Dundalk.

Dundalk Brewery

Diageo’s Paul Armstrong and John Teeling from IWC outside the Dundalk Brewery (Image credit: Keith Arkins)

IWC, which is majority owned by the Teeling family and former Cooley Distillery directors Jim Finn and David Hynes, will acquire the site in September when Diageo moves its brewing operations to St James Gate.

Officially taking over in early 2014, IWC will produce whiskey on the site using some of the existing equipment and will also make investment in the site bringing in specialised whiskey distilling equipment. IWC hopes to start distilling in the third quarter of 2014, with the first mature whiskey available for deliver in late 2017.

John Teeling said: “Irish Whiskey sales continue to grow at double digit rates – a trend that is expected to continue. As the industry grows segments emerge. IWC will supply segments not currently served at all or at best poorly served. Dundalk will be an efficient, low cost quality distillery.

“The focus will be on supplying grain whiskey to pot still distilleries while grain and malt and pot still whiskeys will be supplied as Private Label products to large retailers worldwide and as Bulk Whiskey to companies wishing to develop their own brands.”

Meanwhile a spokesman for Diageo said that he was happy IWC would be taking over the site, while Diageo’s move to St James Gate will secure the future of its brewing operations in Ireland.

Paul Armstrong, supply director brewing, international supply centre, Diageo, said: “Diageo is delighted that the Great Northern Brewery site is being acquired by IWC. This is a vote of confidence in Dundalk and will help to ensure that the town remains an important economic hub in the North-East. Diageo will now begin the process of making the site environmentally safe for the handover.

“The strong brewing legacy of Dundalk will live on in the great taste of Harp Lager which is enjoyed all over the world. By centralising brewing at St James Gate, we have secured the future of brewing in Ireland well into the future. This ensures that great brands like Guinness, Smithwick’s and Harp will continue to be brewed in Ireland.”

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