Diageo has announced plans to launch a blended Irish whiskey out of its brewery at St James’ Gate in Dublin.
The new brand, called Roe & Co, is named after one of the whiskey makers that helped to build the golden era of Irish whiskey in the 19th century, whose distillery on Thomas Street in Dublin was at one point the largest in Ireland.
Diageo has pledged to invest €25 million over three years in the construction of a whiskey distillery in an old power station at St James’ Gate – the factory best known as the home of Guinness.
The company said that its move into Irish whiskey coincided with global sales growth of more than 300%, making it the world’s fastest growing spirit category. In the UK alone, whisky added almost £5 billion to the economy, prompting the association of whisky producers there to call for a reduction in tax.
The Roe & Co brand has been created to reflect modern, contemporary luxury in everything from the packaging to the whiskey itself. It will focus, Diageo said, on making Irish whiskey a more prominent part of Europe’s burgeoning cocktail culture, and will feature ‘the finest hand-selected stocks of Irish malt and grain whiskies aged in bourbon casks’.
Michael Creed, the Irish government’s minister for agriculture, food and the marine, said that the time was right for Diageo to be moving into Ireland’s most famous export.
“Irish whiskey is experiencing a renaissance and is truly an Irish success story,” Creed said. “It is seeing a return to the success it experienced in its golden era in the 19th century and is now the fastest growing spirit drink in the world with global sales increasing by over 300% and record exports of over €400 million in the last ten years.
“This commitment and investment by Diageo comes at an opportune time for the sector, which is experiencing unprecedented global demand. The €25 million investment in this project over three years will support the local economy, create jobs, and bring a welcome new addition to the city’s tourism offering.”
The site’s potential to create additional value for the city of Dublin was echoed by Diageo’s operations director, Colin O’Brien.
O’Brien said: “The planned distillery will provide employment in the coming years – both at construction and operation stages – and will complement what is already the country’s most popular tourism offering, The Guinness Storehouse. This investment further demonstrates Diageo’s commitment to the growing vibrancy of The Liberties, one of the city’s most dynamic districts and the home of Irish whiskey during the original golden age of Irish distilling.”
According to the London-based company, Roe & Co whisky will have ‘the signature smoothness of Irish whiskey’ as well as a depth of flavour and ‘perfect harmony between the intense fruitiness of the malt and the mellow creaminess of the grain whiskies’.
The high proportion of first-fill casks gives notes of creamy vanilla balanced with hints of fruit and soft spice, and it is bottled at 45% ABV.
The first blend of Roe & Co will be available in key European cities from 1 March, as part of Diageo’s growing Reserve portfolio.
Diageo is investing €25 million in repurposing an old power house at its St James’ Gate brewery.
Reserve Europe general manager Tanya Clarke said: “This is a wonderful project for us at Diageo, highlighting the opportunity we see to develop the premium segment of Irish whiskey and contribute to the category’s growth as it sees new investment and entrepreneurial interest. In crafting Roe & Co we explored the demands of today’s consumers for more premium drinking experiences and the desire of bartenders for an adaptable, flavourful whiskey that works in both traditional and new cocktails.”
The drink will join Johnnie Walker, Diageo’s flagship Scotch whisky, as well as more regional names like Buchanan’s and Windsor.
It comes two years after the company sold its previous Irish whiskey offering, Bushmills, in favour of a 50% stake in tequila brand Don Julio.
Ireland’s minister for jobs, enterprise and innovations, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, summarised: “It is great to see Diageo continue to invest in and further enhance the historical Dublin 8 area to create a fantastic attraction for tourists and locals alike. The proposed distillery will play a major role in the overall regeneration of the Liberties through the repurposing of the St James’ Gate power house.
“Irish-produced whiskey has never been as popular, garnering international acclaim and recognition. Diageo’s decision to move into the premium Irish whiskey category and its plans to invest in a new distillery will further enhance Ireland’s reputation as one of the finest premium whiskey producers in the world.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2017