By Andy Young

Two years after Diageo sold Bushmills Irish Whiskey the drinks giant has announced that it is moving back into the category with the launch of a new Irish whiskey brand.

The new premium blended Irish whiskey, called Roe & Co, will come with a total investment of €25m ($35.6m) over three years. The distillery will be located in the former Power Station at the Guinness brewery at St James’s Gate in Dublin.

Tanya Clarke, Diageo’s General Manager of Reserve Europe said: “This is a wonderful project for us at Diageo, highlighting the opportunity we see to develop the premium segment of Irish whiskey and contribute to the category’s growth as it sees new investment and entrepreneurial interest. In crafting Roe & Co we explored the demands of today’s consumers for more premium drinking experiences and the desire of bartenders for an adaptable, flavourful whiskey that works in both traditional and new cocktails.”

Roe & Co is named in honour of George Roe, a former whiskey maker who helped build the golden era of Irish whiskey in the 19th century. His distillery, George Roe and Co, extended over 17 acres on Thomas Street in Dublin and was once Ireland's largest distillery. 

In a statement about the new whiskey, Diageo said: “Roe & Co is made from the finest hand-selected stocks of Irish malt and grain whiskies and aged in bourbon casks. It has the signature smoothness of Irish whiskey with remarkable depth of flavour – a luxuriously smooth blend, with a perfect harmony between the intense fruitiness of the malt and the mellow creaminess of the grain whiskies.”

Diageo’s Master Blender, Caroline Martin, has been working with her team on the new blend and has trialled over 100 prototype blends since December 2014. With a high proportion of first-fill casks the whiskey, which is non-chill filtered and bottled at 45 per cent ABV, is described as having “notes of creamy vanilla balanced with its hints of fruit and soft spice and a remarkable depth for such an elegant and refined whiskey”.

Colin O’Brien Operations Director of Diageo added: “The planned distillery will provide employment in the coming years – both at construction and operation stages. It will complement what is already the country’s most popular tourism offering, The Guinness Storehouse. 

“This investment further demonstrates Diageo’s commitment to the growing vibrancy of The Liberties, one of the City’s most dynamic districts and the home of Irish whiskey during the original golden age of Irish distilling. We are excited that the planned distillery will help revive the proud tradition of distilling in the Liberties.”

After years in the doldrums, Irish whiskey is making a global comeback and Pernod Ricard recently announced a $14.1m investment to boost its Irish whiskey capacity.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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