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Brown-Forman acquires Slane Castle Irish Whiskey

Jack Daniel’s producer Brown-Forman has made its first move into the fast-growing Irish whiskey sector with the acquisition of Slane Castle Irish Whiskey.

An artist’s impression of the new Slane Castle Irish Whiskey Distillery, which was published when plans were first revealed in 2013

Having purchased all shares in the company, the US drinks group will now invest US$50 million in building a new Irish whiskey distillery on the historic Slane Castle Estate in County Meath, Ireland.

Plans were first submitted by Slane Castle Irish Whiskey to build a new distillery and malting plant on the grounds in 2013. The Castle and its grounds have been owned by the Conyngham family since 1701.

“Irish whiskey has been one of the fastest growing segments in the global whisky category over the last few years,” said Lawson Whiting, executive vice president and chief brands & strategy officer for Brown-Forman.

“We’re excited to be partnering with the Conyngham family as we build the new Slane Irish Whiskey Distillery and introduce new Irish whiskeys to the world.”

The work is expected to be complete by late 2016, while the distillery will launch new Irish whiskey brands by the spring of 2017 using third party-sourced liquid.

Whiting added that Brown-Forman will position the new brands in the premium and super-premium spirits segments, introducing a range of blended, pot still and single grain variants.

When plans for Slane Castle Irish Whiskey Distillery were first announced, the company said it would become the first in Ireland to grow, malt and distill its own barley.

The firm originally bottled its own Irish whiskey brand using liquid produced at the Cooley Distillery, until new owner Beam cut off third party production in 2012.

“Our family has been part of the Slane community for many generations and we are pleased to join forces with Brown-Forman to bring our special part of Ireland to the world,” said Alex Conyngham, managing director of Slane Castle Irish Whisky.

“Our commitment to caring for our land, cultivating barley, and our family legacy are consistent with Brown-Forman’s long-term approach to whiskey making, and we believe that this aligned approach will bring great success.”

Henry Conyngham, 8th Marquess Conyngham, added that his family will play a “key part” in creating a brand building model.

“We know that Brown-Forman is the perfect partner to take these new Irish whiskeys to the US and other markets across the globe,” he said.

Brown-Forman revealed only this week that it intended to increase its investment in Bourbon production, spending US$45m on building a new distillery and visitors’ centre for its Old Forester Bourbon brand – US$15m more than originally pledged.

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