Reynier’s company, Renegade Spirits, today announced it has bought Diageo’s former Guinness site in Waterford, Ireland and plans to turn it into a distillery. It marks Reynier’s return to spirits after leaving Bruichladdich in the wake of its GBP48m sale to Remy Cointreau in 2012.
Speaking to just-drinks today, Reynier said he felt “let down” by the sale but that the experience of running Bruichladdich will allow him to “do things slightly differently” at Waterford.
“I was rather annoyed after the Remy thing, I wasn’t ready for that,” Reynier said. “It wasn’t what we’d agreed as a board that we were going to do. I felt rather let down by some of my fellow directors, but that’s water under the bridge and it’s given me the opportunity to think of other things, and this is one of them.”
Despite his fall out with management, Reynier said he is still on good terms with Bruichladdich investors and has appointed one, Sir John MacTaggart, as the Renegade chairman. Former Remy Cointreau CEO, Jean-Marie Laborde, who oversaw the Bruichladdich deal, has also joined the board.
Reynier said the Waterford distillery will only produce whiskey, with the first products not expected for another six years. He also said the former brewery, which Diageo closed down last year after investing EUR40m in it in 2004, is already licensed to distil spirits, giving his company a much shorter lag time before production starts.
“That was the whole principle of this, to get back into it as quickly as possible,” he said. “If you tried to do it on a greenfield site it would take three or four years to get going.”
Reynier, a former wine merchant, also said the provenance rules he brought to Bruichladdich will “feature fundamentally” at Waterford.