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Diageo Unveils Ambitious Irish Whiskey Production Plans

Spirits giant Diageo is looking to get itself into the rapidly expanding Irish whiskey market segment, said to be the fastest growing spirit in the world at the moment with global sales increasing over 300%. Its plans in this area are two fold, including building itself a new distillery in Dublin as well as releasing a new blended Irish whiskey known as Roe & Co.

This new whiskey, according to Diageo, is named in honor of George Roe, a whiskey maker of note from the 19th century. This modern day version of his namesake spirit was crafted by Diageo master blender Caroline Martin and her team from stocks of “the very finest Irish whiskies.” Having trialed over 100 prototype blends since December 2014, the final bottling which was settled on is non-age statement in nature, bottled at 45% ABV, has a high proportion of first fill bourbon casks which housed both malt and grain whiskies and will initially be available across Europe by March of this year.

Roe & Co
image via Diageo

Official tasting notes for Roe & Co can be found at the end of this story. On the distillery build out side, meanwhile, Diageo has plans for a new €25 million (about $26.9 million USD) Irish whiskey making facility which will be created by converting its old Guinness Power House on Thomas Street in Dublin’s St.James’s Gate area. If all goes as hoped over the next three years, it will begin production in the first half of 2019, being located “just a stone’s throw away from where the George Roe and Co distillery once stood.”

“The planned distillery will provide employment in the coming years – both at construction and operation stages,” said Colin O’Brien Operations Director of Diageo, in a prepared statement. “It will complement what is already the country’s most popular tourism offering, The Guinness Storehouse. This investment further demonstrates Diageo’s commitment to the growing vibrancy of The Liberties, one of the City’s most dynamic districts and the home of Irish Whiskey during the original golden age of Irish distilling. We are excited that the planned distillery will help revive the proud tradition of distilling in the Liberties.”

On the nose Roe & Co is creamy, delightfully fragrant and remarkably rounded with notes of soft spice and mellow spun sugar along with warm hints of woody vanilla. The quality and perfect balance of the blend is immediately apparent on the palate through its velvety texture and sweet flavours including spiced pears and vanilla. The finish is lingering and gentle, ending with a light creaminess.

The sweet pear notes readily apparent in Roe & Co are a wonderfully apt tribute to the once-great Dublin whisky distillery of George Roe & Co. Among the remnants of George Roe’s distillery are its old windmill tower, known as St. Patrick’s, and a magnificent pear tree dating from 1850. 

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Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and provided tasting input on many whiskeys at competitions. He also maintains a large private collection of whiskey from which he continually educates his palate on this brown spirit type.

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