IrISh WhISKey
| se l ec t i ons
irish
whiskey
Investing in the Future
In anticipation of current and future
demand, Pernod Ricard’s Irish Distill-
ers are investing $127 million to expand
the Midleton Distillery in County Cork,
where they produce Jameson and other
brands, effectively doubling capacity.
“We are laying down 70,000 casks per
year and the capacity on the pot still side
will double as well, which I was really
glad to see,” says O’Leary.
The pot still component for Jameson,
made in single batches like single malt
Scotch, is critical not just for Jameson,
but also to supply the premium brand Red-
breast, made with 100% pot still whiskey,
as well as Powers Gold Label, a sleeper
brand that is higher in pot still whiskey
than standard Jameson. Unlike the heav-
ily advertised Jameson, these other Irish
entrants from are soaring in popularity by
word of mouth alone.
Tullamore DEW, the second largest
global Irish whiskey brand after Jameson,
is also investing for the future, in an effort
to satisfy the brand’s double-digit growth
in the U.S. since William Grant & Sons
took over the brand in 2010. In addition
to a newly constructed visitors center, a
new facility will come online in 2014 at a
cost of nearly $45 million.
The new distillery will ensure sup-
ply of Tullamore DEW Original, with its
unique triple-blend of malt, grain and pot
still whiskey, while offering the freedom
to create and diversify, according to Ken
Reilly, category marketing director. “Irish
whiskey is a dynamic category with new
styles emerging, honey for example, and
older styles resurrected, like peating and
pure pot still,” says Reilly.
Driving Diversity
Some of the most innovative products
to broaden the spectrum of Irish whiskey
hail from the Cooley Distillery, founded
in 1987 to produce the Kilbeggan, Con-
nemara, Tyrconnell and Greenore brands,
and acquired by Beam Global in late
2011. According to Bob Gorman, direc-
tor of marketing for world whiskies at
Beam, the acquisition not only gave Beam
a controlling interest in 50% of Irish dis-
tilleries (Cooley started operation of a
second distillery in the town of Kilbeggan
to contribute to the whiskey of the same
name in 2007), but also filled a “glaring
omission” in their whiskey portfolio—a
premium Irish whiskey able to stand
should-to-shoulder with Maker’s Mark
and Laphroaig. Beam has also imported
five brand ambassadors from Ireland to
canvas key U.S. markets.
“The whole premise of why Cooley
was set up is to revive the traditions of Irish
whiskey that were lost when it became a
monopoly,” says Stephen Teeling, senior
global marketing manager for Irish whis-
key at Beam, who very much embodies
the passion of his father, the creator of
Cooley. “We were the first to offer cask-
strength, port and sherry finishes with
Tyrconnell, peat-smoked whiskey. We’ve
spend over 20 years building that story,
talking with pride about Irish whiskey.”
Beam’s Irish flagship, Kilbeggan, is re-
tails around $24, just a few dollars above
category leader Jameson. “Jameson did a
great job of recruiting and we have these
younger consumers coming to Irish whis-
key, especially in shots. Where we see a big
opportunity is with those who want to step
up to a more premium pour,” says Teeling.
While Kilbeggan trades heavily on
heritage, Beam’s newly acquired 2 Gin-
gers, also crafted at Cooley, offers a more
casual approach, with its whimsical name
and modern packaging. Launched in Min-
nesota by restaurateur Kieran Folliard,
2 Gingers owes much of its success to a
trademarked drink, Big Ginger, comprised
of 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey, ginger ale and
a lemon and lime wedge.
Cooley Distillery is also responsible
for Sidney Frank Importing Company’s,
Michael Collins brand, which includes a
double-distilled blended Irish whiskey and
10 Year Old Single Malt, distinguished by
Don’t Forget
the Creams…
Whiskey is not everyone’s cup of tea—which
is one reason why Irish cream liqueurs have
proven popular since being introduced in the
1970s. While still dominated by Baileys, the
market’s ability to absorb other brands and varia-
tions is proof that it’s important for stores and
bars to offer these as well.
Distinctions among Irish Creams—which
are essentially 34-proof, shelf-stable blends of
whiskey, cream, sugar and sometimes additional
flavorings—are not as critical as with the whis-
keys. For sweet-toothed drinkers, these smooth
liqueurs are delicious on the rocks or in coffee.
Reliable brands include Carolans,
Duggan’s, McCormick’s, Molly’s and Saint
Brendan’s. To make a selection of Irish Creams
stand out, consider adding flavor variations
(Baileys recently added hazelnut to its range
that includes caramel, coffee and mint choco-
late). And a basket of minis by the register are
sure to disappear come mid-March.
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