Irish Distillers sells Eight Degrees Brewing back to founders
Pernod Ricard-owned Irish Distillers has sold Eight Degrees Brewing, based in Cork, back to its original founders. db speaks to the brewer’s co-director about the buy-back.
According to Irish Distillers, a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard, it has been looking to offload Eight Degrees for some time and has been “speaking to a number of interested parties”.
However, the brewing business has now come full circle as Irish Distillers confirms it has agreed to sell Eight Degrees back to its founders Scott Baigent and Cameron Wallace for an undisclosed sum.
The pair, which established Eight Degrees in 2o1o and sold it to Irish Distillers in 2018, say they have “recharged the batteries and are getting ready to get stuck in”.
Baigent told the drinks business that he and Wallace approached Irish Distillers towards the end of last year to propose buying back the brewery.
“We felt like we had unfinished business,” he told db, in terms of “the scale of the brewing that we wanted to achieve.”
The pair are keeping tight lipped as to whether the sum paid to regain control of the business exceeded the amount they received from the Irish Distillers acquisition five years ago.
For its part, Irish Distillers will continue to distribute Eight Degrees’ beers, a condition the founders are happy with as the distilling giant “has been instrumental in getting our core range into the multiples,” said Wallace, adding that they have missed the craft beer scene and the creativity involved with conjuring up new beers.
“We have the benefit of having some time out and gaining a bit of perspective,” said Baigent. “Our peers in the industry have been in the trenches for several years now. The challenges can weigh you down, but we are feeling fresh and invigorated.”
Fit to brew
After selling the business to Irish Distillers in 2018, Baigent and Wallace launched a wellness and fitness business called Active Tribe Courtown.
Baigent told db that while the two businesses are “entirely separate”, some crossover plans are afoot regarding no-and-low beers.
“We do have specific ideas about drinks we would like to create in the no-and-low alcohol space to cater for people living an active life,” he said, adding that Eight Degrees would continue operating under the ethos of “good quality craft beers using natural ingredients.”
As part of the new agreement, Eight Degrees, which is based in Mitchelstown, Cork, will also continue to supply craft beer to support the Caskmates range of Jameson whiskey, an Irish Distillers brand.
The whiskey series includes a Stout Edition, aged in stout-seasoned casks, and an IPA Edition, designed to appeal to craft beer fans. A Jameson Crested x Eight Degrees Barleywine edition is also available, made in partnership with the Cork brewer.
When Irish Distillers acquired Eight Degrees in a multi-million-euro deal in 2018, it was with the “primary objective” of ensuring a long-term supply of beer for Jameson Caskmates, which had seen a spike in success.
“With this success comes a need to plan for the future and that’s what led to this exciting deal with Cam and Scott in Eight Degrees Brewing,” said production director Tommy Keane at the time.
“We’re looking forward to working with their team to continue to grow Jameson Caskmates on the world stage from Midleton and Mitchelstown.”
Baigent and Wallace have said they will approach the new challenge with “a heap of reckless optimism and a lot of newfound energy.”
Eight Degrees beers are available in Tesco and Dunnes stores, and include Howling Gale Irish Pale Ale and Bohemian Pilsner Lager, as well as a Full Irish Single Malt IPA.