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Whiskey boom continues for Teelings

New filings show holdings in Great Northern Distilleries worth millions

Jack and Stephen Teeling's business interests are going from strength to strength. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

More good news for the Teelings, the pre-eminent family in Irish whiskey, at least according to company filings with new entities set up by Jack and Stephen Teeling.

Jack and Stephen are the sons of John Teeling, the father of the Irish whiskey boom, whose creation of the Cooley Distillery was one of the big moments in the revival of Irish whiskey from its moribund state in the 1980s.

When Cooley was sold to Beam for €73 million in 2011, John went on to create Great Northern Distillery, where he has continued to bulk supply whiskey to new distilleries and companies.

Jack and Stephen, meanwhile, created their own brand, starting up the Teeling Whiskey distillery in Dublin’s Liberties. The brothers recently sold 79 per cent of that company to drinks’ giant Bacardi. It’s not clear how much Bacardi paid for that stake, which they began building up in 2017. But based on company filings they paid €44.8 million for the latest tranche of shares and they hold an option to buy the remainder for €29.8 million.

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The Teeling brothers now have a minority stake in the Liberties operation but they remain major shareholders in Great Northern, and recent filings show that this is worth a pretty penny.

Late last year, a little bit of corporate restructuring at Great Northern shed some light on how much the company is worth. Several of the shareholders, including Jack, Stephen, their sister Emma Teeling, as well as long-time Teeling partners Jim Finn and David Hynes shifted their shares from their personal names into newly formed companies.

Jack, for example, moved his shares into a new entity called White Sheep Investments, describing the transaction as a “share for share exchange with the shareholders of Great Northern Distillery Limited”.

The transaction moved about 110,000 of Jack’s shares, and about 51,000 of Jim Finn’s shares into the new entity and valued the shares at €208.82 apiece – a total value of €33.8 million.

Stephen, for his part, moved a similar amount of shares – around 110,000 – and a similar amount of Jim Finn’s shares, again valued at €208.82, or €33.8 million in total.

Other shares were moved into entities called Jim Finn Whiskey, David Hynes Whiskey, and Beechtree Resources, where the biggest shareholder is Emma Teeling.

At that value, the total number of shares held by the various entities at the share price of €208.82 is a healthy €133.8 million.

With Great Northern’s stock of whiskey valued at €67.9 million in 2023, up from €44.5 million, its turnover up from €44.5 million last year to €54.4 million, and with profit for the year of €23.7 million pushing its accumulated profit to €63.2 million, that seems a bargain.