This last Friday, Beam Inc, purchased the Cooley Distillery, the last remaining Irish owned distillery, for about $95 million. Cooley owns and produces the Kilbeggan, Connemar, Tyrconnell and Greenore brands, and operates two distilleries, Kilbeggan in County Westmeath and Cooley in County Louth.
Beam said Cooley’s status as one of only three sources for Irish whiskey, and the only independent company, makes the acquisition a compelling chance to get into one of the industry’s highest growth categories. Beam shares rose 35 cents to $50 in morning trading Friday. Its shares are up from a 52-week low of $42.30 in early October.
In the last year, Irish whiskey sales have grown 11.5%. Beam’s acquisition of Cooley will allow them to bring those products to a much wider audience, as well as hopefully to inject some cash in to an Irish economy that has been struggling for the past couple of years. This purchase, coupled with Pernod-Ricard’s €100 Million expansion of the Middleton distillery will hopefully boost Irish Whiskey back into the prominence it deserves.
While it’s sad to think that there are no remaining Irish distillers out there, it takes cash to produce a product, and global spirits companies are able to bring products to a wide variety of people who otherwise would know nothing about them. And hey, you never know, but just maybe we will see a resurgence of smaller craft distillers popping up in Ireland.