ITALY/IRELAND: Illva Saronno Irish whiskey stake buy prompts new distillery

By | 16 October 2013

The Irishman brand is getting major backing

The Irishman brand is getting major backing

Italian drinks firm Illva Saronno has put its weight behind the Irish whiskey category by acquiring a 50% stake in the producer of The Irishman brand.

The deal, announced today (16 October), will see the Tia Maria and Disaronno producer invest EUR25m (US$33.8m) in the Carlow-based Walsh Whiskey Distillery group. A new "craft" whiskey distillery, with an annual capacity of 400,000 cases, will be built as part of the investment programme.

The distillery, expected to be operational by 2016, will also have capacity to produce whiskey under contract for "selected private labels". Walsh Whiskey's warehouse capacity will also be increased to 1.9m nine-litre cases. A visitor centre is also planned. 

Rumours of Illva taking a stake in Walsh Whiskey Distillery first surfaced last month

As a result of the investment, Walsh Whiskey, which also produces the Writers Tears brand, will aim to boost its global distribution from 30 to around 100 countries, including India and China. 

The company's whiskies are currently produced under contract by Pernod Ricard-owned Irish Distillers in Midleton. 

Augusto Reina, Illva Saronno's CEO, said: "With this investment, not only will Illva gain production capacity and expertise in a fast growing sector such as that of Irish whiskey... but it will also enable Walsh Whiskey Distillery to lean on Illva as a leading business developer both in Italy and abroad.”

Bernard Walsh, Walsh Whiskey's founder, added: "We are...pleased to have attracted a partner like Illva Saronno that, in addition to its global reach and long term vision, shares a similar style and core values that come from being a family-run company."

He added: "Their experience, traditions and expertise...will be fantastic assets as we set about becoming recognised as one of the leading distillers of premium, craft, Irish whiskey in the world.”

A Walsh Whiskey spokesperson declined to say how much Illva Saronno had paid for its stake. Nobody from Illva was available for comment.

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Expert analysis

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Sectors: Spirits

Companies: Pernod Ricard, Disaronno

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