Business Irish

Monday 10 December 2018

Irish Distillers swallows up Cork craft beer brewer

Eight Degrees Brewing is backed by Enterprise Ireland
Eight Degrees Brewing is backed by Enterprise Ireland
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Pernod Ricard-owned Irish Distillers has acquired Cork-based Eight Degrees Brewing, a craft producer whose brands include Sunburnt Irish Red Ale.

It’s the first ever brewer within the Pernod Ricard stable.

Irish Distillers said the deal will see Eight Degrees Brewing provide a long-term beer supply to support the continued global growth of Jameson Caskmates, while also supporting Eight Degrees Brewing’s on-going innovation and experimentation in the craft beer sector.

The acquisition price wasn’t revealed but the deal is thought to be worth millions of euros.

Founded in 2010 in Mitchelstown by Australian Cameron Wallace and New Zealander Scott Baigent, the company’s lines also include Howling Gale Pale Irish Ale.

Eight Degrees is backed by Enterprise Ireland, but its ordinary share capital remains entirely owned by its two founders.

Irish Distillers’ portfolio of brands includes Jameson, one of the world’s top-selling whiskies, as well as other drinks such as Powers whiskey and Cork Dry Gin.

Pernod Ricard, whose chief executive is Alexandre Ricard, owns top brands such as Malibu, Martell, Chivas Regal and Kahlua.

Jameson Caskmates is a special edition Jameson whiskey that’s matured using barrels that previously held craft beer, such stout or India pale ale.

Irish Distillers has sourced casks from firms such as Cork-based brewer Franciscan Well, which is owned by Molson Coors. “One of our most successful innovations has undoubtedly been the introduction of Jameson Caskmates,” said Tommy Keane, production director at Irish Distillers.

“Following a successful pilot test in the Irish market in 2014, Jameson Caskmates has had exceptional success since its launch, selling almost 200,000 cases into more than 40 markets last year.”

He added that the success of the product had meant the group needed to plan for future production, prompting the acquisition of Eight Degrees.

Mr Wallace and Mr Baigent said they’re looking forward to working with Irish Distillers to create new beers.

The latest set of publicly available accounts for Eight Degrees show that it made a profit of €51,000 last year and had shareholder funds of €708,000 at December 1. It had bank loans totalling €684,000.

Enterprise Ireland invested €110,000 in the company in 2015.

That remained the firm’s only externally-sourced investment.

Online Editors

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business