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Sazerac buys Irish whiskey distillery

Buffalo Trace owner Sazerac has acquired Lough Gill Distillery in County Sligo, which will become the new home for its Irish whiskey brands Paddy and Michael Collins.

Sazerac buys Lough Gill Distillery
Lough Gill Distillery was founded in 2015 after the discovery of a huge warehouse complex

New Orleans-headquartered Sazerac has purchased Hazelwood Demesne, the owner of Lough Gill Distillery in the northwest of Ireland.

The distillery was founded in 2015 after the discovery of a huge warehouse complex, hidden by a forgotten 300-year-old Palladian house in Hazelwood Forest. The warehouse complex was repurposed into a distillery in 2019, producing the Athrú Irish whiskey brand.

Sazerac will develop the 100-acre site into a ‘world-class’ whiskey facility and visitor attraction. Once complete, the facility will welcome up to 150,000 visitors every year.

David Raethorne, founder of the Lough Gill Distillery, said: “This is a major announcement for Sligo and a vote of confidence in the potential for Sligo to become a major player in the booming global Irish whiskey market.

“The acquisition will enable Lough Gill Distillery to fully develop as a world-class visitor destination and will have significant long-term economic and tourism benefits for Sligo, which, for me, was always a personal goal.”

Furthermore, Sazerac will ‘significantly’ grow the footprint of Lough Gill by increasing the distillery’s capacity, adding warehousing capacity, and expanding production and bottling lines.

Following the acquisition, all current distillery members will remain with the business and more jobs are expected to be created after the expansion.

As part of the deal, Sazerac will continue the development of Athrú, including global distribution.

Mark Brown, president and CEO of Sazerac, said: “With its rich history of distilling and storytelling, Ireland is an ideal homeplace for our whiskey business to flourish.

“In particular, the history of the Lough Gill Distillery, dating back to the 18th century, will be an integral keystone in the restoration and storytelling of this site.

“We look forward to preserving the history, delighting our future visitors with the stories we share, and further expanding the growth opportunities for Paddy, Michael Collins and Athrú whiskeys.”

New appointment

In addition, former Bushmills master blender Helen Mulholland has joined the company to lead the Lough Gill Distillery team.

She will be responsible for the selection and management of casks for Athrú, supporting the Athrú portfolio of aged single malts, as well as new product development.

Mulholland added: “The distillery, its location and the incredible team already in place made this a very easy decision. I look forward to bringing my knowledge as a master blender to the table to enable us to make some really world-class Irish whiskeys.”

Sazerac acquired Irish whiskey brand Paddy from Irish Distillers in 2016.

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