Sazerac Company, whose portfolio includes Buffalo Trace Distillery and Fireball, has acquired Hazelwood Demesne Limited, which owns Lough Gill Distillery in County Sligo, Ireland.
Lough Gill’s production includes Athrú Irish single malt whisky.
According to the company, Sazerac plans on fully developing the 100-plus-acre site to create a “world-class whiskey facility and visitor attraction, making it one of the most important tourism centers in the West of Ireland.” Once complete, Lough Gill Distillery hopes to welcome up to 150,000 visitors annually, while creating a homeplace for Sazerac’s Irish Whiskeys, Paddy and Michael Collins.
Additionally, Sazerac plans to significantly grow the footprint of Lough Gill Distillery through increasing the distillery’s capacity, adding warehousing capacity and expanding production and bottling lines.
“With its rich history of distilling and storytelling, Ireland is an ideal homeplace for our whiskey business to flourish,” says Mark Brown, president and CEO of Sazerac. “In particular, the history of the Lough Gill Distillery, dating back to the 18th century, will be an integral keystone in the restoration and storytelling of this site. We look forward to preserving the history, delighting our future visitors by the stories we share, and further expanding the growth opportunities for Paddy, Michael Collins and Athrú Whiskeys.”
All current Lough Gill Distillery team members will remain with the business. It is expected that Sazerac will increase employment after the expansion.
As part of the acquisition, Sazerac will continue the development of the Athrú brand, including global distribution.
“This is a major announcement for Sligo and a vote of confidence in the potential for Sligo to become a major player in the booming global Irish whiskey market,” says David Raethorne, founder of the Lough Gill Distillery. “The acquisition will enable Lough Gill Distillery to fully develop as a world-class visitor destination and will have significant long term economic and tourism benefits for Sligo, which, for me, was always a personal goal.”
“In addition, the maintenance and preservation works undertaken to date on Hazelwood House (a house of national importance) have played an essential part in saving it from dereliction,” Raethorne adds. “This acquisition will ensure that Hazelwood House will be enjoyed and appreciated by generations to come, another key objective of the project. The Sazerac Company announcement is a culmination of seven years of hard work and determination by the Board of Lough Gill Distillery and the wider team, delivering on our original 2015 vision, when we acquired the site. I would like to formally acknowledge the support of Sligo County Council and its CEO Martin Lydon, which was a key driver in the decision for Sazerac to invest in Sligo.”
In tandem with the acquisition, Lough Gill Distillery has announced that former Bushmills Master Blender Helen Mulholland will join the team.
In 2018, Mulholland became the first woman to be inducted into the International Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame. Recently she became the first woman to receive a Chairman’s Award for her contribution to the development of the Irish whiskey industry.
Mulholland will lead Lough Gill Distillery’s team in production and blending. She will take responsibility for selection and management of the casks for Athrú single malt whiskey.
“It’s a really exciting time for Lough Gill Distillery,” says Mulholland. “I am very honored to be joining the team as it becomes the home of Paddy, Michael Collins and Athrú whiskies. The distillery, its location and the incredible team already in place made this a very easy decision. I look forward to bringing my knowledge as a Master Blender to the table to enable us to make some really world-class Irish whiskeys.”
This follows recent news of Sazerac expanding distribution of of Sazerac de Forge & Fils Cognac.