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Mark Reynier to open Irish whiskey distillery

Mark Reynier, the former managing director of Bruichladdich Distillery, has bought a former Guinness brewery in Ireland and plans to transform it into an Irish whiskey distillery.

Waterford-Brewery
The Waterford Brewery, which produced Guinness up until last year, will be transformed into an Irish whiskey distillery

The Waterford Brewery, previously owned by Diageo, will be converted into a malt and grain whiskey distillery with an initial annual capacity of 3 million litres.

Liquid is due to run from the two pot stills and one column still in January 2016, although Reynier has plans to eventually double the capacity in time.

Renamed Waterford Distillery, the site will produce a range of innovative Irish whiskeys designed to “add some meat to the bones of the category”.

Reynier’s obsession with barley, which became apparent through the Scotch whiskies from Bruichladdich, will be a main focus of Waterford Whiskey, as will experimental bottlings using different yeasts.

“It gives me the opportunity to challenge Pernod Ricard in Ireland and create a significant Irish whiskey brand with a whole lot of extra credibility that sometimes is missing from big companies,” Reynier said.

The brewery, located in the port of Waterford in South East Ireland, was closed by Diageo last year as the group moved its Guinness production to the flagship St. James Gate brewery in Dublin.

Waterford-Distillery-Renegade-Spirits
Waterford Distillery’s new logo

Reynier has partnered with former Bruichladdich backers John McTaggart, who will assume the role of chairman, and John Adams, who will be finance director, as well as 50 private shareholders, to form holding company Renegade Spirits.

After the sale of Bruichladdich to Rémy Cointreau in 2012, and following what he calls an initial “bereavement period”, Reynier has been seeking a new opportunity to get back into distilling.

“Scotland is looking pretty full and I’d always thought of Ireland, which has just four distilleries,” he said. “Clearly it’s an opportunity to do something if the right project could present itself and this is a project that saves me considerable time by buying an existing brewery and means we can be producing spirit pretty damn quick.”

While Reynier would not disclose the purchase price of the Waterford brewery, he said the acquisition was for “significantly less” than the €40m value of the site, which opened in 2004. Waterford also houses a second brewery, which dates back to 1792.

Once up and running, the distillery will not produce any white spirits as a source of income as it “doesn’t need the revenue stream”, instead focusing solely on producing Irish whiskey.

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