Business

Bushmills' profits rise 30 per cent as whiskey production ramps up

The interior of the new £37m Causeway Distillery at The Old Bushmills Distillery in Co Antrim.
The interior of the new £37m Causeway Distillery at The Old Bushmills Distillery in Co Antrim. The interior of the new £37m Causeway Distillery at The Old Bushmills Distillery in Co Antrim.

PROFIT at the Old Bushmills Distillery moved into eight figures last year as sales soared by 30 per cent.

New accounts for the Irish whiskey operation show its turnover rose by £13 million to a record £56.2m for the 12 months ending December 31 2022.

That was £12.5m more than Bushmills’ last full year of trading before the pandemic.

It took The Old Bushmills Distillery Company’s profit before tax for 2022 to £10.34m, 30 per cent higher than its 2021 performance.

Bushmills has been owned by Jose Cuervo since 2014, when the world’s biggest tequila producer bought the operation from Guinness-maker Diageo.

Jose Cuervo is controlled by the Mexico-based Beckmann family, which distributes its spirits globally via its Proximo arm.

The reporting period covered by the accounts include the final construction phase of Bushmills’ new £37m Causeway Distillery, which was officially unveiled in April 2023.

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It took the total amount invested by Proximo in the Co Antrim distillery to £60m over the past five years.

The company’s directors said Bushmills had retained its position as one of the leaders in the Irish whiskey category during 2022, demonstrating “a good level of performance in its major markets despite the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The spirits company said its plans to continue its expansion into new markets and grow its brands.

Colum Egan is a master distiller and director of The Old Bushmills Distillery Company.
Colum Egan is a master distiller and director of The Old Bushmills Distillery Company. Colum Egan is a master distiller and director of The Old Bushmills Distillery Company.

The directors also confirmed that Bushmills had terminated an external bottling contract with Irish Distillers Limited (IDL) in February 2022, earlier than expected. 

IDL is a subsidiary of French drinks giant Pernod Ricard, and is the largest producer of Irish whiskey, making the likes of Powers, Jameson, Redbreast and the Spot whiskeys from its distillery in Midleton, Co Cork.

“The additional capacity has provided an opportunity to bottle other group products in-house, and further the growth of Bushmills brands,” said Bushmills directors.

That new capacity already appeared evident in the new accounts for The Old Bushmills Distillery Company, which put the value of its 2022 stock at £167.6m, almost £25m more than in 2021. 

The biggest growth was in the ‘new’ whiskey category, i.e. whiskey maturing within one year. The value of that stock grew 40 per cent year-on-year to £36.2m.

The value of raw materials and consumables held by the distillery increased by 55.8 per cent to £13.4m.

Meanwhile, whiskey maturing in casks for more than one year was valued at £117.5m, which was 8.4 per cent up on 2021.

Finished goods ready for sale were valued at £530,000, up 17 per cent on 2021.

Bushmills distillery's core single malt range, the 10, 16, and 21-year-olds.
Bushmills distillery's core single malt range, the 10, 16, and 21-year-olds. Bushmills distillery's core single malt range, the 10, 16, and 21-year-olds.

The distillery also increased its staff last year to 124 people, 22 more than in 2021. Most of the new staff were on the production side.

It took staff costs to £7.1m for the year, around £1m more than in 2021.

Total shareholder funds for the company grew to £296m in 2022.

The Bushmills' portfolio includes: Bushmills Original, Black Bush, Red Bush, Bushmills’ 10, 12, 16 and 21-year old single malts, as well as more exclusive releases as part of the Causeway Collection.