Jameson Distillery Bow St. has had an €11m makeover...
Irish Distillers has re-opened of the home of Jameson in Smithfield, Dublin, after pumping €11 million into its refurbishment.
The new look ‘Jameson Distillery Bow St.’ brand home will aim to support the Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy target of trebling the number of Irish whiskey tourists visiting Ireland annually to 1.9 million by 2025.
Not only is it looking to "upgrade the experience" on offer, it has been redesigned to cope with tourist demand, which should mean a reduction in the long queues the attraction has seen in the past.
Claire Tolan, managing director of Jameson's brand homes, told Breakfast Business that the site was "open and ready for business", calling it "where we grew up".
"So John Jameson set up his distillery in 1780 in the very building that we are now occupying," she explained.
"Brand homes are really important because as a brand grows people want to know what you're all about, where you're from.
"So it's an opportunity for us to come and really show them that in detail. They're coming to us with an open mind. They're coming to learn. And they're coming to have a bit of fun. They want to learn how we make our whiskey, what stories we have to tell and, of course, what it tastes like."
As part of the whiskey's international brand development team for close to two decades, Tolan has seen Jameson continue to grow in global appeal. The whiskey shifted 5.7 million cases for the year ending June 2016.
"We've had 27 years of consecutive growth," she said.
"We're sold in 130 markets all over the world. So when you think about it, each bottle on the shelf is really nearly like an ambassador, so as people get to know the brand they want to know 'God, where's that from, what's the history?'
"A lot of people then when they're on their holidays in Ireland come and check us out.
"Also we find people who are huge fans and they have 'Sine Metu' [the Jameson family motto, "without fear"] tattooed on their arm and they come in and want to see the brand home. They really want to understand what it's all about. It's a brilliant place to work. It's exciting, it's fun, it's vibrant, and now we've got something really interactive to show them."
Tolan rejected suggestions that Irish Distillers had anything to fear from a renaissance in artisan offerings.
"We do a lot of stuff [with artisan makers]. So we work the Irish Whiskey Association and when there's new players coming into the marketplace we do a mentoring programme with them.
"Because it's in everyone's interest to have more players in the market – if you're a group of lads and you want to come over from New York to have a whiskey experience, well what better opportunity to come and visit if there's four or five places right in a city centre location?"
The redeveloped Jameson brand home draws on cutting-edge technology and offers three fully-guided tours are offered: ‘The Bow St. Experience’ tasting tour focuses on the stories of Jameson’s heritage and innovations while ‘The Whiskey Makers’ and ‘The Whiskey Shakers’ experiences provide more in-depth whiskey and cocktail masterclasses, both including the opportunity to sample whiskey straight from a cask in the distillery’s new live maturation house.
Speaking at the opening, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe said:
“Each year, over 600,000 tourists pass through Irish whiskey visitor centres to experience first-hand the heritage behind this time-honoured spirit and hear the stories of established and emerging distilleries.
"The Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy aims to treble this figure to 1.9 million visitors by 2025 and Jameson Distillery Bow St. will undoubtedly play a central role in delivering on this vision. Smithfield and its wider Dublin environs have a rich history and vibrant cultural scene which will also continue to attract and enthrall visitors from near and far.”
Ray Dempsey, general manager at the Jameson brand home in Smithfield since its opening in 1997, added:
“We have had the privilege of calling Bow Street home since 1780 and we’re delighted with our new makeover.
"Visitors can look forward to immersive storytelling where they will be invited to touch, smell and most importantly, taste Jameson in the original Bow St. Distillery building. As Smithfield continues to experience a cultural resurgence, we’re incredibly excited to be part of this thriving community and look forward to being here long into the future.”