The world renowned Baileys Irish Cream turned 40 this past November - as a birthday present, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney announced a new $700k partnership between Baileys and Enterprise Ireland.

As the world’s best selling cream liqueur, the very successful Irish export will have even more power than it already does; its launch in 1974 saw a groundbreaking innovation of Irish cream mixed with Irish whiskey that took over four years to perfect.

Initially it was created for women with the belief that they deserved a better choice of drink when spirits like whiskey and stout were mostly targeted at men. By five years after its launch led by Steve Wilson, the liqueur was selling over one million cases per year and inspired the creation of an entirely new category of drink for women and men alike.

"We kept building bigger factories but it still took us five years for production to keep up with demand," Wilson said.

The brand is a major contributor to Ireland’s rural economy. It uses over 250 million liters of Irish whole milk annually, and around 82 million bottles of Bailey’s are sold each year to 180 different countries, said the Merrion.

Coveney visited the Baileys production facility on Nangor Road in Dublin on Monday to mark the brand’s 40th anniversary and to announce the new partnership .

“Since Baileys went into production in 1974 it has become a brand that is synonymous with Ireland and with Ireland’s rich agricultural heritage,” Coveney said.

“It is now the sixth best-selling duty free brand globally with strong sales in China, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. Key to this success is the combination of both tradition and innovation, using Irish milk sourced from 40,000 dairy cows.

“Baileys has developed a brand that continues to appeal to people all over the world. The partnership with Enterprise Ireland will ensure that the plant, which already is the largest buyer of milk in Ireland aside from co-ops, can invest further in Ireland’s dairy economy bringing further benefits to this important sector,” he said.

Enterprise Ireland provides funds and support for companies to expand their activities, thereby improving efficiency and growing international sales. The bulk of the funds will go toward increasing the sustainability of the site at Dublin’s Nangor Road, where Baileys has been produced and bottled since 1974.

Though Baileys was an innovation in itself 40 years ago, many other successful innovations stemmed from the brand as well, such as Baileys Chocolat Luxe, or Baileys Dulce de Leche sold exclusively in Mexico.

“This includes upskilling of employees and the site itself, to increase the sustainability of the brand,” the Merrion said. “The partnership will also enhance the Research and Development element of this export driven brand with the ultimate objective being to increase the business and therefore grow the rural economy.”

“Baileys is an Irish brand with a global presence a reputation for excellence which showcases our high quality dairy and distilling sectors. Today’s partnership will contribute to Ireland’s dairy sector, exports and the Irish economy generally,” said Michael Cantwell, Head of Enterprise Ireland Food Division.

Recently Baileys released the advertising campaign ‘Here's to us' which is female-centric and is designed to introduce a new generation of Millennial women to the brand. The launch is the first series in the Baileys campaign that celebrates female friendships, expressed through a ‘girls’ night out’ in different parts of the world.

Colin O’ Brien, Managing Director of Baileys and Head of Supply with Diageo said: “Baileys has always been an innovative product; back in 1974 it set itself apart in a market that was dominated by whiskey and stout.

“Today it is a market leader because we bring together the very best of dairy and distilling while continually exploring new tastes our marketing approach, production, supply pricing and innovation strategies.

“Our partnership with Enterprise Ireland will ensure that we can continue to be a number one Irish brand that has appeal right across the world,” he said.

Enterprise Ireland invests $700k in Baileys, the world’s best selling cream liqueur.