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Jameson looks to ‘go beyond’ Irish whiskey

Jameson is seeking to transcend the Irish whiskey category and become one of the world’s top 10 spirits brands, Irish Distillers’ new chairman and CEO has said.

Conor McQuaid outlined his vision for Jameson to The Spirits Business

Conor McQuaid took the reins at Pernod Ricard’s Irish brand company this month following an executive reshuffle at the French group.

Speaking to The Spirits Business, McQuaid said Jameson’s ambitions for growth “go beyond” the Irish whiskey category.

“If we continue to reframe ourselves as the dominant player in Irish whiskey, we somewhat undersell what I believe is the opportunity for Jameson as an iconic global brand.

“We will continue to be proud of our Irish heritage and the distinctiveness this brings to the brand, but to frame our ambition simply by being dominant in the Irish category underplays the opportunity that Jameson now has on the global stage.”

He added: “Going beyond the category is the challenge and seeing ourselves within the top 10 global spirits brands worldwide is our ambition.”

Jameson is the world’s best-selling Irish whiskey brand and one of only two – alongside Tullamore Dew – to sell more than one million cases annually.

Last year, the brand’s volume sales increased 11.3% to 6.9m cases, securing it the title of Supreme Brand Champion 2018 in The Spirits Business’s latest Brand Champions report.

Jameson has benefited from significant investment from parent group Pernod Ricard in recent years – with €250 million (US$290m) spent since 2012.

The investment programme included: increasing Midleton Distillery’s pot still output by 30%; a €100m expansion of the Dungourney maturation site; a €17m development of the Fox & Geese bottling plant; building a microdistillery at Midleton; an €11m refurbishment of Jameson Distillery Bow Street; establishing an archive centre for Jameson; and additional funds to enhance the Irish Whiskey Academy.

“This investment is testament to the fact that we have been greatly supported by Pernod Ricard over the years to stay one step ahead,” said McQuaid.

“It demonstrates the confidence that Pernod Ricard has expressed in Irish Distillers and supported it with financial gall over a sustained period.”

To read McQuaid’s full interview, see the July 2018 edition of The Spirits Business magazine, out now.

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