Irish Distillers is understood to be planning a major new distillery to cope with the increasing worldwide demand for Jameson whiskey.
It’s also believed that staff have been informed the new distillery will not be located in Midleton, the Cork town that has been the company’s distilling epicentre since the mid-1970s.
Waterford and Youghal are tipped as potential sites for the new distillery.
In 2011, Irish Distillers owner Pernod Ricard announced a €100m investment at Midleton in order to boost production of Jameson. The whiskey is one of the French group’s flagship global brands.
That project was completed in 2013 and doubled production capacity to 64m litres of pure alcohol a year. In 2017, Irish Distillers announced a further €10m investment at Midleton.
But the plant is now thought to be operating either at or close to capacity, with the success of Jameson around the world contributing to the significant production boost. Jameson is the world’s fastest-growing Irish whiskey, with 6.5m cases sold last year. It’s also the fourth-biggest selling whiskey in the world, with Crown Royal, Jim Beam and Jack Daniels in third, second and first place respectively. Jack Daniels sold about 12.9m cases in 2017.
Pernod Ricard, which releases full-year results tomorrow, has invested heavily in Jameson to make it a worldwide brand.
The company acquired Irish Distillers in 1988, seeing off competition from Grand Met, now known as Diageo.
An Irish Distillers spokesman declined to comment: “Irish Distillers does not comment on market rumour or speculation in relation to its growth strategy,.
“Our strategy is to continue to drive growth prospects for Irish whiskey through our portfolio of premium brands, complemented by the strength of our worldwide distribution network. In line with this approach, the company constantly evaluates all opportunities for growth which potentially support this strategy,” he said.
Earlier this year, Irish Distillers acquired Cork-based Eight Degrees Brewing, a craft producer whose brands include Sunburnt Irish Red Ale.
It’s the first ever brewer within the Pernod Ricard stable.
Irish Distillers said the deal would see Eight Degrees Brewing provide a long-term beer supply to support the continued global growth of Jameson Caskmates, while also supporting Eight Degrees Brewing’s on-going innovation and experimentation in the craft beer sector.
Jameson Caskmates is a special edition Jameson whiskey that’s matured using barrels that previously held craft beer, such as stout or India pale ale. Irish Dsitillers’ other brands include Cork Dry Gin and Powers.
There’s been a resurgence in whiskey production in the past few years, with a number of new distilleries opening all over the country.