Last time I took you through the story of how the Roe & Co brand and product was painstakingly created. In this feature I’m going to talk you through the origins of the Roe & Co name and their plans for the new distillery.
So who was George Roe?
Peter O’Connor, Roe & Co European Brand Ambassador, explained to me that Georgie, part of the team, came up with the idea of talking about the ‘greatest story never told’ – the heritage of Irish whiskey including the George Roe distillery which was opened in 1757 and, after a series of adverse trading conditions including global challenges such as prohibition, the 1916 Uprising, the UK’s trade embargo enforced on Ireland, sadly closed.
George Roe was an age statement liquid and was pot still whiskey too which the brand had no intention of recreating as that’s not what this new brand was about. This is not the recreation of something from the past, but a nod to it and an inspiration for the future.
Tonnes of storytelling within one simple semiotic-laden bottle design
The distillery design, bottle design and overall brand aesthetic has been inspired by the old distillery and the tower remaining from the original site. Interestingly, the teal and copper colour palate used on pack and in design detailing and point of sale are present to represent Dublin with the copper used in building works and roofs that has oxidised over time. The pear drop device has been used to represent the flavour profile – take a look at the bottom of the bottle, yes put the stopper back in and turn it upside-down, you’ll find the pear device present there too.
The distillery then, now and future
George Roe’s distillery was located a mere 100 metres across the road from Arthur Guinness’ world-famous brewery so when Roe’s site closed Guinness bought the site and sold through the remaining liquid until the stock was depleted, which is when they sold the site.
The distillery is going to be in a building that used to power the Guinness brewery but laid derelict for around eighteen years after they joined the national grid, and will be opened first week in March 2019.
Design detailing will include the distillery having a glass roof so visitors can stand in there and look out at the original tower, as well as a state-of-the-art visitor centre and training bar for bartenders as they are integral to the brand, and even had a hand in creating the final blend through sampling and using it in their own mixology creations.
When fully operational, the distillery will have a capacity of 500,000 litres of spirit per year utilising three pot stills producing single malt for the blend, with grain whiskey being bought in from a third-party supplier. The fabulous design team at Hearts & Feints in Scotland are designing the distillery experience – which, knowing their previous work intimately, will be incredible.
Nothing set in stone for the distillery’s products but in time they may release aged whiskey, different cask and blend composition all to explore the boundaries of flavour, especially as the existing liquid, which is all bought in, was entered into the prestigious San Francisco Spirits Competition and won double gold at its first attempt.
My take on the Roe & Co brand
I really do like how Diageo has not piggybacked onto an existing recipe, flavour profile and brand aesthetic, and instead used the name Roe & Co as a nod to the original company and a pioneering whiskey man of the time.
There is a sense of pride, both current and historical present in the team for honouring something that was lost in history and the pioneering man of George Roe, especially as his distillery literally just closed down overnight due to the troubled timeline of events that affected the whole Irish whiskey market.
This series has been commissioned by Roe & Co, however all opinions and views, as always, remain my own.