If you redevelop it, they will come. ‘They’ being tourists.
Irish Distillers, Ireland’s leading supplier of spirits and wines and producer of the world’s most well-known and successful Irish whiskeys, has today announced plans for a major redevelopment of the Old Jameson Distillery in Smithfield, representing a total investment of €11 million. This new look Jameson brand home will strengthen Ireland’s growing whiskey tourism industry which currently attracts 600,000 tourists a year.
To facilitate the refurbishment, the Old Jameson Distillery will close on August 31st and will officially reopen in March 2017.
Jean-Christophe Coutures, Chairman and CEO of Irish Distillers said: “This investment marks an important moment in the history of Jameson in Ireland. We’ve grown up on Bow Street, in the heart of Smithfield, and we’ve always felt privileged to share our home with the world. Since we opened the Old Jameson Distillery visitor experience in 1997, we’ve welcomed over 4 million whiskey lovers through our doors.
“Now, as the renaissance of Irish whiskey continues at pace following incredible global growth over 25 years, we want to build on our efforts to share the story of Irish whiskey and Jameson around the world. We’ve enlisted the world’s best ‘experience designers’ and complimented that with a 100 percent Irish contracting team who will work together to deliver on our vision.”
Ray Dempsey, who has been the General Manager at the Old Jameson Distillery since its opening, added: “From John Jameson’s brave first steps into this building in 1780, we’ve been focused on his ambition to create unforgettable experiences. When we next open our doors you’re going to see what makes our whiskey loved the world over, with live immersive experiences delivered with the personal touch, helping to bring this story to life. We look forward to welcoming many more whiskey lovers to our Smithfield home when we reopen in March.”
Construction work will begin in September and will be led by BRC Imagination Arts; Dublin based firm TOTP Architects and Flynn Management & Contractors, with approximately 100 people employed as part of the redevelopment work. BRC Imagination Arts is one of the world’s leading experience design and production agencies specializing in the creation of next generation brand experiences. Founded in 1981, past clients of BRC include the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta; the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam and the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.
The last venue mentioned in that list is an important one, given this recent stat:
The Storehouse draws over a million a year, while the Jameson centre draws about a quarter of that. It’s not hard to see why – Guinness is ubiquitous, Jameson less so. Considering that whiskey is still pretty much a niche drink (in comparison to beer etc), it’s doing well – but they can always do better. RTÉ have the details on the staff:
The distillery currently has 75 employees.
General Manager at the Old Jameson Distillery Ray Dempsey said these staff members will be relocated across a number of areas during the closure, with a core team supporting the redevelopment work.
Other employees will be involved in the setting up of a ‘welcome kiosk’ on Bow St, which will act as a starting point for visitors to the Smithfield area and inform them about the Jameson brand and other attractions in the vicinity.
Meanwhile, distillery staff members will also provide Jameson tasting experiences in the Generator Hostel and Jameson food pairings at Christophe’s Restaurant in Smithfield.
Free whiskey in a hostel – what’s the worst that could happen?
Anyhoo, I have no way to finish this hastily scribbled post, so here are some old photos of Ray Dempsey and others at the launch of Midleton VR in 2001.
Please note I did not write those captions. Although I think ‘whisley’ sounds alright.