In September, Diageo will transfer operations to St James Gate in a move that will secure the future of its brewing operations in Ireland. IWC will then acquire the Great Northern Brewery site and take it over in early 2014.
IWC intend to produce whiskey using some of the existing equipment, and will be making a significant investment in modifying and adapting it and adding specialised whiskey distilling equipment. The design and specification of these modifications and additions are already in train and distilling is expected to commence in the third quarter of 2014 with the first mature whiskey available for delivery in late 2017.
The Dundalk site will be an efficient low cost quality whiskey distiller to supply grain, pot still and malt whiskey to the private Llabel and bulk whiskey sectors as well as to the emerging craft distilling sector.
IWC is majority owned by the Teeling Family. Jim Finn and David Hynes, formerly Cooley Distillery directors, are also shareholders
John Teeling, director, IWC, 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.”
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 Great Northern Brewery has a vibrant, proud and industrious history in Dundalk. We are confident that as this new chapter opens, the site will remain an important hub of economic activity and a substantial draw for further inward investment in the region.
"Our employees at Dundalk have made an outstanding contribution to the success of our business over many years. Diageo recognises and appreciates the critical role that the Great Northern Brewery has played in the success of Diageo’s beer brands and in particular, the world famous Harp Lager,” he said.
“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,” said Armstrong.