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First step Tullamore, then the world

Tullamore Dew returns to namesake town after 60 years as global demand for Irish whiskey keeps on growing.

Inside the Tullamore Dew visitor centre
Inside the Tullamore Dew visitor centre

THE WORLD’S SECOND-BIGGEST Irish whiskey brand has returned to the town which gave the spirit its name after a 60-year absence.

William Grant & Sons has opened its new Tullamore Dew distillery on a 58-acre site on the outskirts of Tullamore at Conminch in Co Offaly, where 1.5 million cases of the spirit will be produced each year.

The product was previously produced under license in Cork and other regions for the Scottish parent company, which bought the brand in 2010 as part of a €300 million buyout.

Tullamore Dew global brand director Caspar MacRae told TheJournal.ie the new distillery would give the brand more freedom – and the chance to get more innovative in the future.

He said the brand’s short-term future would be focussed on distilling a top-quality product in the new facility, but down the track they could experiment with small-batch specials and the local workforce could grow from its 25-person team.

“One of the things we are hoping is that as the brands keeps building success, it will create more demand and more jobs in the future,” he said.

The new distillery will feature:

  • Four hand-crafted copper stills modelled on the original Tullamore stills
  • Six brew-house fermenters, each with 34,000-litre capacity
  • Warehouse space for 100,000 casks

Source: tullamoredewofficial/YouTube

Not drowning in whiskey, yet

Tullamore Dew’s sales grew 12% last year to about 850,000 cases, or 11 million bottles, and MacRae said there was no sign of the Irish whiskey market becoming saturated with the string of new, boutique distilleries opening up.

“We are a long way off from being in that sort of situation; we would welcome anyone who has got the intent of promoting a very high-quality product that enhances the Irish whiskey brand,” he said.

The last few years have featured a boom in the number of small and medium-sized Irish whiskey distilleries being set up on the back of fast-growing export demand, although the local market for spirits has been shrinking.

READ: Americans are acquiring a taste for Jameson – but it’s not so bright at home

Taxing times for local drinkers

MacRae said the Irish market was “very challenging” for the whiskey industry due to the heavy tariffs being levied on spirits.

“It’s hard to invest sustainably to build the brands due to the high levels of taxation, but we are committed to the long-term development of the brand in Ireland as well,” he said.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney said Irish whiskey was the “star” of the local food and drink industry.

He said the government was committed to “protecting the reputation and identity of Irish whiskey” made by an industry which was working to grow exports in a sustainable and uniquely-Irish product.

READ: Sod is turned on Tullamore Dew distillery

READ: Work starts on biggest independent Irish distillery – whiskey and jobs will flow

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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