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Conor McGregor’s whiskey label is finally here

MMA champion Conor McGregor has finally launched his own Irish whiskey label after an intellectual property dispute forced him to backpedal on his original branding.

(Photo: Proper Twelve)

Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey, produced by Eire Born Spirits, is a blended Irish whiskey made by master distiller David Elderman. McGregor is the majority shareholder, CEO and chairman of the brand.

Formerly a brewer for Guinness, Elderman moved into spirits in 2015 by joining the distilling team at Belfast-based Old Bushmills, but was snapped up by McGregor last year to work on the boxer’s long-dreamt whiskey.

“Today “Project Notorious” finally comes to life with the introduction of my new Irish Whiskey; Proper 12,” the boxer said on Instagram.

“I have spent a lifetime studying this craft under the tutelage of my late Grandfather on my mother’s side, Christopher “Jakes” Moore, and I have put just over 3 years into the making of this liquid alone.”

McGregor said the drink, which is being marketed as a premium spirit, will launch in the US and Ireland by the end of September, with further expansion planned for 2019 if sales are strong.

Proximo, which also works with Bushmills, Kraken rum and Boodles gin, has been named McGregor’s distribution partner, with a recommended retail price of around €35 in Ireland, and up to $29.99 in the USA.

The relaunch comes after McGregor withdrew his original trademark application for Irish whiskey brand “Notorious” last week, after facing opposition from the founder of Carlow Brewing Company.

McGregor applied for the Notorious trademark in July 2016.

Known for his outspoken personality, McGregor promoted the Notorious brand across his social media platforms, even using his post-fight UFC press conferences to plug the whiskey.

Seamus O’Hara, founder of the County Carlow-based brewer, has owned the rights to a European trademark of the same name since 2016. McGregor was ordered to pay €600 (US$697) to O‘Hara for representation costs and opposition fee, but the boxer showed no intention of bowing out of the spirits market, as he posted an optimistic message to fans over Instagram in the same week.

The new whiskey label pays homage to McGregor’s hometown of Crumlin, located in Dublin’s District 12.

“I wanted to make an Irish whiskey emblematic of Irish culture as a whole, and something that would showcase the great skill we possess of distilling the best Whiskey in the entire world,” he said.

The launch is well-timed. Whiskey, in particular Irish and American, is one of the fastest-growing spirits categories in the US, with an estimated value of $2.1 billion in the 12 months to July 2018, according to Nielsen. Meanwhile in Ireland, premium Irish whiskey’s value rose by around 40% this year, with sales in the category as a whole up 5%.

McGregor added that $5 from each case sold will be donated to local first responder charities wherever drinkers can buy it.

“First responders all over the world are the unsung heroes who act with courage and answer the call of duty every day for people in need,” he said. “I have great respect for these men and women.”

McGregor is not the only Irish celebrity hoping to cash in on the whiskey boom, as the Times  reports that U2 frontman Bono has made an investment in a €50m whiskey project in county Kildare.

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