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John Teeling (former owner) examining the produce at Cooley Distillery Photo by: Google Images

Irish whiskey in short supply as Jim Beam group refuses to sell to Meath lord

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John Teeling (former owner) examining the produce at Cooley Distillery Photo by: Google Images

Slane Castle aristocrat Lord Henry Mountcharles has slammed the Beam group for refusing to sell him Irish whiskey!

The Meath lord has hit out in his row with the global Beam group who recently bought the famous Cooley Distillery.

Mountcharles is up in arms after the new owners of the Cooley Distillery decided not to supply whiskey to independent operators.

He has told the Irish Independent that the move is ‘anti-competitive; and has forced him to abandon a marketing trip to America for his Slane Castle brand of whiskey.

He said: “It is not what they have done, it’s the way they did it. It feels like we’ve been cut off at the knees.

The paper reports that Slane Castle Irish Whiskey was launched in 1999 and targets the premium US market with prices of $70 a bottle.

“We were about to sign a large distribution deal in the US when we learned our supplies would be cut off,” added Mountcharles.

“I told Beam I regard their actions as anti-competitive. We won’t take this lying down and I’m considering whether it could be referred to the Competition Authority. It is incredibly difficult to source supply.”

Willie McArthur, a former Cooley director now working with Beam, told the Independent that the own-label sellers were unwitting victims of the ‘runaway’ success of Irish whiskey.

He said: “The speed at which sales are growing caught everybody by surprise, including the new owners of Cooley. They have done a full review and the sales people say we may need more whiskey than we actually have.

“We aim to create another Jameson - we are thinking at that kind of level. We have to make sure we do not run out of whiskey in three years’ time.

“This potential shortage explains the abrupt nature of the withdrawal. We have contracts with a few customers but most, like Lord Henry, would just place orders as required and we cannot accept new orders.”

McCarter did express some support for the plight of Mountcharles and other independent producers.

He added:  “I have a lot of sympathy for Henry and the other producers. Unfortunately, they were getting their supplies from people who now don’t have enough.

“I don’t see how it can be anti-competitive when there are other distillers who could supply. In Cooley, we would sell to anybody who could pay and who we thought had a reasonable chance of success. But those days are gone.”

William Grant, the new owners of Tullamore Dew, is considering building a new distillery to ensure sufficient stocks.

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