THE Irish company behind Jameson Whiskey, Cork Dry Gin and a host of other brands is worth nearly €2bn to its French parent, it has been revealed.
Irish Distillers has been valued at €1.68bn by its owner, the drinks giant Pernod Ricard, in a company filing. This confirms for the first time just how important the business is to Pernod.
The valuation means the Irish operation is worth about 7pc of the multinational's business – a disproportionately large amount considering that it owns dozens of big-name brands.
The filing, which was lodged with the Companies Office last month, is the first time Pernod has given a value for Irish Distillers since it was bought more than two decades ago.
The Paris-headquartered firm purchased the Irish company, which also makes Powers Whiskey and Huzzar Vodka, in a friendly takeover in 1988. It employs 500 people in Ireland.
Since then, the world's second-largest drinks company after Diageo has been coy about the value it places on the operation, though one indicator of Irish Distillers' worth was the 2005 sale by Pernod of its Bushmills whiskey brand to Diageo for €200m. Jameson alone would command a multiple of that.
Jameson, manufactured in Midleton, Co Cork, is believed to have driven most of Irish Distillers' growth. All of its production must by law take place in Ireland since it is marketed as a genuine Irish whiskey.
Last year, the company announced a €100m investment in the Midleton plant with the aim of doubling capacity.
About four million cases of the spirit are sold annually around the world – around 48 million bottles every year. The brand has grown every year since Pernod took it over – 24 consecutive years of sales growth.
It is the biggest-selling Irish whiskey in the United States, posting annual sales growth of 29pc last year.
Jameson has also begun to make inroads into Africa and Russia, a sign of its growing global appeal.
"In 1988, when Irish Distillers joined Pernod Ricard, Jameson sold just 466,000 cases globally, with Ireland as its main market," said Irish Distillers' boss Anna Malmhake.