US drinks company Beam is to buy Louth-based Irish whiskey producer Cooley Distillery in a deal worth around $95m (€71m).

Cooley owns and produces the Kilbeggan, Connemara, Tyrconnell and Greenore brands. It currently sells around 250,000 9-litre cases of whiskey a year.

The company was founded by chairman John Teeling, who said Beam had the experience and global strength to help the Cooley brands to reach their potential.

Mr Teeling told RTÉ's Drivetime that the 290 shareholders would receive $75m to $80m after debt was excluded. Mr Teeling and his family own about a third of the company.

Beam's brands include Jim Beam bourbon, Canadian Club whisky, Courvoisier cognac and Teacher's scotch whisky.

“Cooley is one of only three sources for Irish whiskey, and the only independent player, so this transaction is a unique and compelling high-return opportunity to enter one of the industry’s highest growth categories,” said Matt Shattock, president and chief executive officer of Beam.

Figures show that the volume of Irish whiskey sold last year grew by 11.5% to 4.86 million. The leading markets for Irish whiskey are the US, Ireland, the UK, France, South Africa and Germany.