Abbeyleix to get visitor centre after UK company buys First Ireland Spirits

UK drinks distributor Quintessential Brands reveals plans for the future

Warren Scott (left) of Quintessential Brands Group with Aidan Tallon CFO of  First Ireland Spirits at the announcement of the acquisition. Photograph: Thomas Nolan.

Warren Scott (left) of Quintessential Brands Group with Aidan Tallon CFO of First Ireland Spirits at the announcement of the acquisition. Photograph: Thomas Nolan.

 

The UK drinks distributor Quintessential Brands plans to build a visitor centre in Abbeyleix following its purchase yesterday of First Ireland Spirits, which employs about 50 people in the Laois town.

Quintessential, which owns London Dry Gin, yesterday completed the buyout following 18 months of talks for an undisclosed sum.

First Ireland, which makes a range of Irish cream liqueurs to rival Baileys, owns brands including O’Mara’s Irish country cream, Feeney’s Irish cream liqueur and Dubliner Irish whiskey.

The company, which has sales of about €20 million, was set up just over 20 years ago.

Among the shareholders who stand to benefit from the deal are ACT Venture Capital, the Cork biochemistry investor Leslie Auchincloss, and the former CIÉ chairman John Lynch, who has chaired the drinks company since it was founded.

Warren Scott, the chief executive of Quintessential, said the Diageo-owned Baileys dominates the Irish cream liqueurs market with 90 per cent of the category, “but it never really invests in Ireland”.

“We want to make Abbeyleix the home of Irish cream liqueurs. We will invest in the town by building a visitor centre to provide extra jobs and attract tourism,” said Mr Scott.

He said First Ireland’s existing management team, who will remain on board following the takeover, had already held tentative discussions with the local authority in Laois about building the visitor centre.

As well as producing Irish creams, First Ireland also manufactures spirits for private label buyers in Ireland and abroad such as SuperValu, Dunnes Stores, Tesco, Asda, Walmart and Woolworths.

Mr Scott said half its revenues come from the private label sector.