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John Teeling Returns to Irish Whiskey Business With Deal for New Distillery

August 21, 2013 – John Teeling hadn’t planned a quiet retirement after closing the sale of Cooley Whiskey Company to Beam at the end of 2011, but he said at the time he didn’t expect to return to the whiskey business. Apparently, he’d forgotten the classic line from “The Godfather: Part III”

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

Teeling has now agreed to buy Diageo’s Great Northern Brewery in Dundalk with a group of investors, including his sons Jack and Stephen, and the Irish Whiskey Company will convert the facility into a distillery over the next year. Under his leadership, Cooley profited from supplying independent bottlers with bulk whiskey as well as selling its own brands, but Beam cut off most bulk sales after the acquisition to make more whiskey available for Kilbeggan, Connemara, and the other brands it acquired in the Cooley deal. Teeling plans the same approach with what will likely be called “Great Northern Distillery”, focusing on bulk sales and private label bottlings.

The Irish Times reports Teeling decided to return to the whiskey business after former Dundalk Chamber of Commerce president Paddy Malone pleaded for someone to invest in the brewery. Diageo decided to close the brewery, which made Harp Lager, and consolidate beer production at the Guinness St. James Gate brewery in Dublin starting in September. Malone told the Irish Times that he helped put Teeling in touch with Diageo and local officials to help close the deal, which is expected to create 80 jobs once production begins in the third quarter of 2014.

Jack and Stephen Teeling founded their own Teeling Whiskey Company after leaving Cooley, and that company will remain independent. The Teeling Brothers are working with Dublin officials on plans for a distillery in the Marrowbone Lane area. However, published reports indicate the brothers could source some of their whiskey from the Dundalk distillery.

Links: Teeling Whiskey Company