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Coopers taps into whisky under $50m plan

Business

Coopers Brewery will set up a whisky distillery and microbrewery under a $50m expansion plan which will include a visitor centre and dining at its Regency Park base.

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The family-owned brewery announced today that it is investing in the future of its site with a view to attracting domestic and international tourists.

The planned visitor centre features a curved design and sloping amphitheatre inspired by the round Coopers label, with the building to house a 3200L microbrewery and whisky distillery along with an associated restaurant, bar and tasting room.

The new development will be linked to Coopers’ existing brewery via a 50m long “window-lined bridge” featuring a 300m2 interactive history display.

The expansion, designed by Studio Nine Architects, also includes a new 250m “tree-lined” entry from Regency Road, with the visitor centre to be “surrounded by extensive natural landscaping” including 163 trees.

Aerial View of Coopers’ planned new development from North Carpark. Photo: supplied/Studio Nine Architects

Coopers expect the development to be completed by Christmas 2023. Construction is scheduled to begin in the middle of this year pending approval from the City of Port Adelaide Enfield Council.

Coopers managing director Tim Cooper said the “ambitious project” will “showcase Australian beer to the world”.

“This new visitor centre is about celebrating our history and our originality, with an emphasis on what makes Coopers different,” he said in a statement.

“Although we’ve been running brewery tours since 2006, this extensive development will augment and expand the guest experience, creating a lasting impression for new visitors and an ongoing connection for our loyal consumers with new tour and tasting experiences.”

The 3200L microbrewery will be used to develop more craft beers within the Coopers portfolio, the company says, while it will also regularly supply new ales and lagers to the visitor centre.

The whisky distillery will consist of a 9600L wash still and a 5500L spirit still, with the company aiming to eventually produce 200,000 bottles a year.

“We have been thinking about malt whisky for some time as we see it as a natural extension to our on-site maltings and our experience in brewing and fermentation,” Cooper said.

“Our goal is to achieve the highest possible level of spirit quality to match our reputation in brewing. Having our own maltings will allow us to tell the whole story from the barley grower to the whisky glass.”

$50m Coopers visitor centre

The expansion comes after Coopers recorded a six per cent increase in pre-tax profit last financial year, with its 2018 decision to move its core range into cans still paying dividends.

The company recorded total beer sales of 82.3 million litres in the 12 months to June 30, 2021, and a pre-tax profit of $36.5 million, compared with $34.3 million the previous year.

Its planned $50 million visitor centre expansion at Regency Park represents $400 million of investment in the site since its decision to move there from Leabrook in 1999.

Coopers Brewery is Australia’s largest independent family-owned brewery and was ranked No. 23 InDaily’s 2021 South Australian Business Index of the state’s top 100 companies.

The company is this year celebrating its 160th year in operation.

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