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Diageo abandons Irish spirits

By Richard Newton - Telegraph.co.uk
Sunday 9 August 1998 - Issue 1771

DIAGEO, the spirits group, has scrapped Hackler Poitin, the potent Irish poteen brand that was introduced only last year. The failed foray into Irish spirits is thought to have cost the group more than £2m.

Guinness spent several million pounds developing and marketing the product in Ireland, the UK and six other countries in anticipation of a ban on the spirit being lifted by the Irish government last year. Since then Guinness has merged with Grand Metropolitan to form Diageo. The new group has decided to drop the alcohol-rich Poitin brand as demand failed to grow fast enough.

Tim Dervey, new brand development director for UDV, said: "Innovation and new brand development are all about trying out new ideas and products to gauge consumer response; in the case of Hackler sales did not reach the level set for a UDV new brand. Therefore we have taken the decision to withdraw it from the market."

Hackler, a single distilled product, may have suffered because it was not alcoholic enough for a spirit that is renowned more for its effect than its taste. Knockeen Hills, for example, one of only two other legal brands in Ireland produces triple-distilled products as strong as 90 per cent proof.