American spirits giant Beam Inc has hired five Irish graduates to promote its Irish whiskey brands in the US market.
The Illinois-based group — which owns the popular Jim Beam bourbon brand as well as the likes of Teacher’s scotch whisky, Maker’s Mark bourbon, Harvey’s Bristol Cream sherry, Gilbey’s gin, and Courvoisier cognac — entered the Irish whiskey market at the end of last year, via the €73m purchase of Cooley Distillery.
That deal, which moved Ireland’s last remaining independent whiskey producer into international corporate hands, gave Beam control of whiskey brands such as Kilbeggan, Connemara, Greenore, and Tyrconnell.
The new graduate programme — the five were selected through IBEC’s Export Orientation Programme — will see those selected based in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.
The graduates are Emily Duffy from Limerick; Joanne Ryan from Waterford and the Dublin trio of Ruth Dunne, Michael Egan, and Jennifer Graham.
This could be the first of a number of projects aimed at growing the Cooley portfolio in the US, according to Beam’s senior global marketing manager for Irish whiskey, Stephen Teeling.
“This programme has huge potential not only for the growth of our business but also for producing highly skilled people who possess the talent and ability to successfully market Irish products overseas,” said Mr Teeling. “There is scope to roll this programme out across Europe and in other international markets.”
Regarding the five selected promoters, Mr Teeling added: “These talented graduates will benefit greatly from being exposed to international best practice in export-orientated marketing. They will be supported by Beam’s US marketing and distribution infrastructure as they promote our portfolio of Irish whiskeys in five major cities in the US.”
Irish whiskey is currently going through a renaissance in the US drinks market and is one of the international spirits sector’s fastest growing niches. Beam is looking to directly take on Jameson in the US market, mainly via the Kilbeggan brand.
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