In a very short time Cooley Distillery has become a hugely significant player in the Irish whisky market, fending off a hostile takeover bid from Irish Distillers that would almost certainly have resulted in closure and producing a wide range of single malts (including Connemara, Locke's, Magilligan and Tyrconnell), blends (including Inishowen, Kilbeggan and Millar's) and even a single grain whiskey (the acclaimed Greenore).
About Cooley Distillery, from their website
Cooley Distillery is the only independent Irish owned distillery in Ireland, founded in 1987 by John Teeling, a highly respected Irish entrepreneur. It was during his studies at Harvard University in the early 1970's that John Teeling identified the decline of Irish whiskey as an opportunity to reverse this situation.
John Teeling bought the former State owned potato alcohol plant in the Cooley peninsula on Ireland's east coast. This alcohol plant was converted in less than two years into two distilleries - a pot still and a patent still operation. This marked the first rival to Irish Distillers, who up to this point were the sole producer of Irish whiskey in the world. Meanwhile Willie McCarter, who had been in the US as a student at the same time as John Teeling and shared the vision, acquired some of the assets of the old A.A. Watt distillery in Co. Derry. In 1988 Willie McCarter merged his interests with John Teeling.
Another Irish entrepreneur, Paul Power, and Lee Mallagahan, the former owner of Locke's Distillery joined the Cooley board. Cooley soon acquired the brand names of Andrew A. Watt and Co. of Derry, Northern Ireland (established in 1762) and John Locke and Co. of Kilbeggan (established in 1757). The latter has the distinction of being the oldest licensed distillery in the world.
Cooley is a public unlisted company with over 300 shareholders who for the most part have been with Cooley since its foundation.
Ever since Cooley Distillery first entered their whiskies in the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in 1995, the company has won a number of gold, silver and bronze medals for quality since first entering. This confirms the growing reputation of Cooley Irish whiskey.
However, the ultimate accolade for Cooley was when it was awarded a trophy in 1998 by the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) for outstanding achievement to the spirits industry.
The citation accompanying the award reads: "This award to Cooley is one sign that the quality of Irish whiskey is now truly recognized. From its distillery in County Louth established as recently as 1987, Cooley produces a range of blended and single malt whiskies that have rapidly gained a formidable reputation and impressed the judges to award the Worldwide Achievement title to a distiller for the first time in the competition's history".