Beam buys Cooley, major Irish distiller

The Cooley Distillery lineup.
Beam Inc. today announced the purchase of Cooley Distillery, the Irish maker of such whiskies as Kilbeggan and Connemara.

Cooley, the only remaining independent Irish whiskey distillery, will mark Beam's entrance into one of the spirits industry's fastest-growing categories. The purchase price is approximately $95 million, according to Beam.

Cooley, which also owns and produces the Tyrconnell and Greenore brands, "is one of only three sources for Irish whiskey, and the only independent player, so this transaction is a unique and compelling high-return opportunity to enter one of the industry's highest growth categories," said Matt Shattock, Beam president and CEO.

"We see the opportunity to ... expand distribution off a relatively small base in key export markets for Irish whiskey across North America and Europe."

John Teeling, Chairman and Founder of Cooley Distillery, said, "Beam understands whiskey. They have the culture, experience and global strength to enable the Cooley portfolio of brands to reach their potential in the fast growing Irish whiskey category. The renaissance in Irish whiskey, most evident in the United States, is now spreading across the world. Through Beam, our brands, built on quality, will be introduced to a host of new consumers. I am certain that the marriage between Cooley and Beam will benefit all."

Cooley's Kilbeggan Distillery, opened in 1757, is reputed to be the world's oldest distillery and produces Cooley's flagship blended Irish whiskey. Cooley's was named European Spirits Producer of the Year for an unprecedented four consecutive years (2008-2011) by the International Wine & Spirit Competition.

The Irish whiskey category grew 11.5% in 2010 to 4.86 million cases according to Impact Databank. The leading markets for Irish whiskey are the U.S., Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, South Africa and Germany.

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