Northern Ireland

Bushmills whiskey: Jose Cuervo acquires County Antrim firm

Bushmills barrel Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Bushmills is Ireland's oldest working distillery

Bushmills whiskey has been acquired by the world's biggest tequila producer.

Jose Cuervo has taken control of the brand as part of a deal with Diageo.

Diageo's Colin O'Brien said while the sale represented a "change", they were "confident" that Jose Cuervo would "nurture" Bushmills in the future.

Jose Cuervo is owned by the Mexico-based Beckmann family. Their distribution firm, Proximo, controls a number of premium whiskey and rum brands.

The chief executive of Jose Cuervo, Juan Domingo Beckmann, described the acquisition as the "most important purchase made by Cuervo in its entire history".

"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," he said.

"Bushmills Irish Whiskey will be in very safe hands."

'Great history'

Mr Beckmann added that no jobs would be lost at Bushmills as a result of the acquisition.

Mr O'Brien said Bushmills Irish Whiskey was a brand built on "great history, heritage and passionate people" and had been a "cherished part of the Diageo family" for more than nine years.

"During this time we have invested over £80m to build capacity, infrastructure and maturing inventory at the distillery, which has supported the continued growth of the brand," he said.

Irish whiskey has been a growth category in the United States in recent years.

Growth was initially sparked by a big investment made by Pernod Ricard in the marketing of its Jameson brand.

In 2011, the US-based maker of Jim Beam whiskey bought the Cooley distillery in County Louth for $95m (£59.45m).

Bushmills Distillery claims to be the oldest licensed distillery in the world.

Distillation has taken place there since at least the 17th century.

It has not been locally-owned for many years.

Prior to being bought by Diageo in 2005 it was owned by Pernod Ricard.

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