The Sazerac Company has just inked a deal to purchase the Lough Gill Distillery in County Sligo, Ireland. To go along with news of the acquisition they’re also announcing the arrival of former Bushmills master blender Helen Mulholland—an industry legend with nearly 30 years of experience.
It’s not Sazerac’s first foray into the Irish market. The New Orleans-based spirits behemoth already counts Paddy’s amongst its 450-odd brands from across the globe. What sets today’s announcement apart is that it involves establishing an actual home base on the Emerald Isle with an ambitious refurbishment plan akin to what the company has done at the historic Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. Or more recently, the Sazerac House off Canal Street in New Orleans.
The architectural centerpiece of its new 100-acre property is Hazelwood House—a Palladian style country mansion dating back to 1731. After extensive renovations the distillery hopes it will soon welcome upwards of 150,000 annual visitors. For Sazerac it will become the spiritual “homeplace” of its entire Irish Whiskey portfolio.
Additionally, Sazerac is planning to grow the footprint of Lough Gill Distillery. This will include a significant increase in production capacity; adding warehouses and expanding production and bottling lines. The company has committed to keeping the existing Lough Gill Distillery team members in place and expects to grow employment opportunities for the local community in the near future. As part of the deal, Sazerac will also take on global distribution of the distillery’s Athrú brand of Irish Whiskey.
Raethorne first acquired the site back in 2015. Since that time, his board has overseen maintenance and preservation of Hazelwood House, playing a key role in saving it from disrepair. The arrival of Sazerac, according to him, will provide the capital infusion necessary to make it a world class visitors center. Indeed, it’s a hope he shares with an entire community.
“This is one of the most significant Sligo investments in recent times,” notes Paul Taylor, outgoing chairman of the Sligo County Council. “Becoming home to not one, but three, of Ireland’s whiskey brands will have a significant impact on our local economy, both from an employment and tourism perspective.”
For Helen Mulholland, joining the team was a no-brainer. “The distillery, it’s location and the incredible team already in place made this a very easy decision,” she confirmed in a press release. “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.”
Fans of the category will undoubtedly be eager to taste what she has rolling out of the barrel in the years to come.