Bunhill: Irish whiskey

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The Independent Online
THERE ARE funny goings-on in the Irish whiskey business. No, they're not watering the stuff, but it's not clear whether we're talking of a Great French Conspiracy or a corporate cock-up. Starting point is that Irish Distillers, owners of all brands of Irish, were taken over a few years ago by Pernod- Ricard to prevent the English Imperialists (in the shape of Grand Met) from acquiring so precious a part of the Irish heritage.

Then came competition, in the shape of one Dr John Teeling who set up Cooley's, an independent distillery. But last month, before Cooley's had sold a drop, Teeling sold to Pernod-Ricard, which is set to shut down the distillery to re-establish the French monopoly. Now Pernod-Ricard has sold one of its existing brands, Tullamore Dew, a smooth and upmarket brew, to a subsidiary of Allied- Lyons. In return, Pernod- Ricard gets an obscure brand of Canadian whiskey, Royal Canadian, sold only in Michigan.

Hence the mystery: why should Pernod-Ricard give up a good brand and thus create real competition for itself as opposed to the much smaller - and putative - threat from Cooley's? Answers to Bunhill, with a bottle of Tullamore Dew.