The company is selling the Dundalk site to the former owners of Cooley Distillery

The company is selling the Dundalk site to the former owners of Cooley Distillery

Diageo's 'Harp Brewery' in Dundalk, Ireland, is set to become a whiskey distillery after a deal was agreed with new owners.

The company said today (21 August) that an “agreement in principle” has been reached with the Irish Whiskey Company (IWC), run by the former owners and directors of Cooley Distillery. IWC is expected to take over the Great Northern Brewery site, which produced Harp Lager, in “early 2014”.  

Distilling is expected to start in next year's third-quarter with the first mature whiskey available in “late 2017”.

IWC is majority-owned by the Teeling Family, while Jim Finn and David Hynes, formerly Cooley Distillery directors, are also shareholders. Beam Inc acquired Cooley Distillery in January last year

John Teeling, an IWC director and previously Cooley's chairman, said: “Irish Whiskey sales continue to grow at double-digit rates - a trend that is expected to continue. As the industry grows, segments emerge. IWC will supply segments not currently served at all or at best poorly served. Dundalk will be an efficient, low-cost quality distillery.” 

Diageo said it will transfer brewing operations from the Great Northern Brewery site to its St James's Gate facility in Dublin next month. The Dundalk operation was Ireland's second-largest brewery after St James's Gate.

The move is part of an overall centralising of brewing operations by Diageo in Ireland, announced last year, which has included the closure of its Kilkenny brewery. 

The company initially announced the plan in 2008, but then put the proposal on hold due to the global economic downturn.

“By centralising brewing at St James's Gate, we have secured the future of brewing in Ireland well into the future,” said Paul Armstrong, Diageo's brewing supply director today.