Sazerac buys Irish distillery to create whiskey production and tourism hub

By Staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags whiskey Irish whiskey Ireland Sazarac

The Sazerac Company will buy Lough Gill Distillery in Ireland to create a ‘world-class whiskey facility and visitor attraction’, expanding the distillery’s capacity and footprint.

Through its acquisition of Hazelwood Demesne Limited, owner of the distillery on the shores of Lough Gill in County Sligo, Sazerac will continue development of luxury single malt Irish Whiskey Athrú.

Irish whiskey home for Paddy, Michael Collins and Athrú

New Orleans headquartered Sazerac has already restored historic sites such as its Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky and its Sazerac House in New Orleans. It now pledges to now develop the 100+ acre Lough Gill Distillery site, the original demesne of Hazelwood House, to create a ‘world-class whiskey facility and visitor attraction, making it one of the most important tourism centers in the West of Ireland’.

The site hopes to welcome up to 150,000 visitors annually and will create a homeplace for Sazerac’s Irish Whiskeys, Paddy and Michael Collins.

Lough Gill Distillery sits on a 100-acre peninsula surrounded on three sides by Lough Gill. The distillery was founded in 2015 after the discovery of a vast warehouse complex, concealed by a forgotten 300 year old Palladian house in Hazelwood forest, Co. Sligo.

The warehouse complex has been sustainably repurposed into a world class single malt distillery, which was commissioned in 2019 after a four year development project. It uses state of the art equipment and energy capture technology to produce the highest quality single malt whiskey with minimal impact on the environment.

Three copper stills were handmade by Frilli, master craftsmen in Sienna, Italy to produce single malt to the Distillery specifications. The stills are capable of producing over one million liters of alcohol per annum (about 3m bottles), triple distilled.

Sazerac will also ‘significantly’ grow the footprint of Lough Gill Distillery through increasing the distillery’s capacity, adding warehousing capacity and expanding production and bottling lines.

All current Lough Gill Distillery team members will remain with the business, and 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.

Mark Brown, president and chief executive officer of Sazerac said: “With its rich history of distilling and storytelling, Ireland is an ideal homeplace for our whiskey business to flourish.  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.”

David Raethorne, founder of the Lough Gill Distillery, added: “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. 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.”

In tandem with the acquisition, Lough Gill Distillery has also announced that former Bushmills Master Blender, Helen Mulholland, is joining the team.

In 2018, Mulholland became the first woman to be inducted into the International Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame and has recently become the first woman to receive a Chairman’s Award for her outstanding contribution to the development of the Irish whiskey industry. 

Helen will lead Lough Gill Distillery’s team in the pursuit of crafting and blending what will become Ireland’s luxury single malt whiskey. Helen will take responsibility for selection and management of the casks for Athrú single malt whiskey, nurturing the Athrú portfolio of premium aged single malts, as well as new product development.

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