Life after Cooley for John L Sullivan

Georgetown Trading is looking for new Irish whiskey suppliers for its John L Sullivan brand following Beam’s decision not to renew contracts between Cooley Distillery and third-party brands.

Beam purchased Cooley Distillery earlier this year for €95m and last month declared its strategy to focus on in-house brands - historically under a half of Cooley’s output.

Amir Peay, creator of the US-focused John L Sullivan brand in 2010, said: “I was disappointed to hear that Beam chose to discontinue production and that we could not reach agreement to continue working together. Our annual case sales doubled from 2010 to 2011, and we were on track to double sales again in 2012.”

"The brand was created to provide consumers with special whiskies and to pay homage to this great American sports and saloon icon, and we will continue to do that with fantastic whiskey made in partnerships with other distilleries.”

Last month a statement from Beam read: “In making the transition to building the Cooley brands, Beam is respecting existing supply contracts and appropriate notice periods. Approximately half of this year's Cooley stock will still go to third parties.

“Most affected own-label brand companies did not have supply contracts and were informed of this decision as soon as it was made so that they could source alternative supplies. There are a number of own-label Irish whiskey companies that source whiskey from alternate suppliers.”

Asked whether a change of supplier would alter the taste profile of John L Sullivan, Peay said: “Any change in supply for the brand would be noted on the literature and the packaging.  We used to proudly proclaim our partnership with Cooley's and we will do the same for any new partners. 

“John L Sullivan was always positioned as small batch whiskey made in partnership with a great distillery, and so that gives us great flexibility to work with other distilleries and continue to be honest with consumers.”

Georgetown Trading is set to release a new brand of American rye and bourbon whiskies to the US market this June and has “an infused whiskey in the works”.