One of Ireland’s oldest whiskey distilleries has been bought by a Mexican tequila giant.
Jose Cuervo has announced the purchase of the Bushmills brand from current owner Diageo.
With a distilling tradition dating back 400 years, the Old Bushmills Distillery on Northern Ireland’s scenic Causeway coast is a popular tourist attraction as well as manufacturer of the Bushmills Irish whiskey brand.
Jose Cuervo, a family-owned multinational drinks company headquartered in Mexico City, has hailed the purchase as the most significant in its 250 year history.
It is understood Diageo will take control of a Jose Cuervo brand line as part of what is essentially a swap deal.
Jose Cuervo said the current management structure and all jobs will be retained at Bushmills, with the manufacturing and tourism business operating as normal.
Juan Domingo Beckmann, chief executive of Jose Cuervo, said: “We are proud to announce our agreement to acquire 100% of Bushmills. This is the most important purchase made by Cuervo in its entire history.
“This is a very exciting time for both Bushmills Irish Whiskey and Jose Cuervo. We see this acquisition as a fantastic opportunity to continue to nurture and grow the Bushmills Irish Whiskey brand globally, underpinned by the strong expertise and focus of Jose Cuervo as one of the world’s leading drinks corporations.
“We see great synergies and similarities between the two brands. Like Bushmills Irish Whiskey, Jose Cuervo is built on a very strong tradition of quality and craftsmanship that dates back over 250 years, so we understand the importance of nurturing and protecting the heritage and quality of a brand and are strongly committed to doing exactly that with Bushmills. Bushmills Irish Whiskey will be in very safe hands.
“In addition, I am certain that this strategic decision will allow Jose Cuervo to continue growing in other categories and to continue developing our business around the world for another 250 years.”
Operations director at Diageo Colin O’Brien said the deal would help strengthen the company’s position in the tequila market.
“Bushmills Irish Whiskey is a brand built on great history, heritage and passionate people and has been a cherished part of the Diageo family for more than nine years,” he said.
“During this time we have invested over £80 million to build capacity, infrastructure and maturing inventory at the distillery, which has supported the continued growth of the brand.
“We are immensely proud of these achievements and, while we recognise that today’s announcement does represent a change for Bushmills, we are confident that Jose Cuervo - a company with a proven commitment to its people and to valuing the history and heritage of its brands - will continue to nurture Bushmills in the future.
“This transaction represents further progress in Diageo’s strategy to build its presence in the world’s fastest growing markets and to strengthen its global position in tequila.”