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Diageo Returning To Irish Whiskey With New Roe & Co. Brand, Plans For A Distillery

January 31, 2017

Diageo is getting back into the thriving Irish whiskey category by investing $25 million in a new Dublin distillery that will produce an upscale brand called Roe & Co.

Diageo director of U.K. and Ireland operations Colin O’Brien told reporters earlier today that the company will begin rolling out Roe & Co. next month in major European markets. The new brand will be priced at around £30 ($37) and will join Diageo’s reserve unit. Diageo will initially source Roe & Co. whiskey from undisclosed third-party distilleries. Meanwhile, the spirits giant will start building a new distillery at its Guinness headquarters in Dublin. Whiskey production is slated to begin there in 2019.

Diageo has been absent from the Irish whiskey category since late 2014, when it sold Bushmills to Casa Cuervo, in exchange for Cuervo’s 50% stake in Don Julio Tequila and roughly $400 million. However, with Irish whiskey continuing to surge—the category was up 14% in the U.S. in 2016, according to Impact Databank estimates—it appears as though Diageo has chosen a fortuitous time to return.

The latest issue of Whisky Advocate, which is on newsstands now, features a cover story on the Ireland’s distilling renaissance, and the Irish Whiskey Trail now features distilleries, visitor centers and pubs that welcome about 600,000 visitors annually. —Peter Zwiebach

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