Amber Beverage Group expands into Irish Whiskey segment with acquisition of Walsh Whiskey

IRELAND – Global spirits company, Amber Beverage Group (ABG) has acquired family-owned Irish whiskey producer Walsh Whiskey for an undisclosed sum. 

Walsh Whiskey was founded in Co Carlow in 1999 by the husband-and-wife team, Bernard and Rosemary Walsh. 

The company’s brands which include Irishman and Writers’ Tears brands are sold in over 50 countries globally.  

While no deal value has been disclosed, informed sources indicated it could be on a par achieved when Irish Distillers sold Paddy to Sazerac in 2016 for an estimated €90 million. 

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Sources pointed to the long-standing production deal Walsh has with the Jameson producer and its strong distribution network as some of its strongest selling points. 

Under the agreement, Mr. Walsh is to stay on as managing director amid plans to expand the distribution of the brands to many more markets. 

He said: “We are delighted to embark on a new phase of growth as part of Amber Beverage Group. 

“Given the underlying strengths of our brands and of the long-term trajectory of Irish whiskey, this is a logical next step for us, providing a means of scaling up the business so that a greater number of consumers have the opportunity to participate in the search for the perfect drop or ‘taoscán’ of whiskey.”

The deal comes nearly three years after the company effectively split into two following a disagreement with Illva Saronno.  

The Italian drinks giant, whose products include Tia Maria, invested €25 million in Walsh Whiskey for a 50 percent stake in the business in 2013 with a distillery opening in Carlow three years later. 

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However, in January 2019 Walsh Whiskey pulled out from the deal citing differences in how to develop the business. 

The decision made Walsh Whiskey separate the brands from the distillery, which has since been rebranded as Royal Oak Distillery. 

Amber, which is headquartered in Luxembourg, owns more than100 brands and distributes some 1,300 third-party drinks brands across 185 countries. 

“This is the first time we have entered into the whiskey sector and we are particularly pleased that Amber Beverage Group is now part of the consistently high-growth story that is the super-premium end of the Irish whiskey market,” said chief executive Jekaterina Stuge. 

Earlier in October, Luxembourg-based Amber Beverage Group (ABG) rebranded more of its companies under the unifying name ‘Amber’. 

ABG’s Latvijas Balzams will be renamed Amber Latvijas Balzams; Russian spirits producers Talvis and Permalko will become Amber Talvis and Amber Permalko; distiller Fabrica de Tequilas Finos will become Amber Production Tequila; and Estonia-based alcohol producer Remedia will become Amber Production Remedia. 

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