MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Twin Cities entrepreneur behind Kieran’s Irish Pub, The Local, The Liffey, and Cooper pubs has sold his Irish whiskey brand to Beam Inc.

On Friday, Kieran Folliard made the announcement that Beam Inc., makers of Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark whiskeys, acquired his 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey brand.

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“What we can do with Beam in five years would probably have taken us 25 or 30 years without them,” Folliard said. “In terms of resources, they have just such a national reach. And also they are known for their whiskeys.”

2 Gingers had only launched in late January 2012 in Minnesota, but will now expand to Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois, the Dakotas and Iowa in the coming months.

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“I kind of joked internally here, it kind of felt like sending your kid off to college, but you just wanted to hold for another year or two to really whip him into shape,” Folliard said.

Folliard will continue to manage 2 Gingers from his headquarters in northeast Minneapolis, and will also oversee Beam Inc.’s other Irish whiskey brands – including Kilbeggan, Tyrconnel, Greenore and Connemara.

“We’re really in an expanded role, I guess,” Folliard said. “They brought muscle to mouse.”

2 Gingers is made in Ireland at the Cooley (now Kilbeggan) distillery founded in 1757. It’s the only American-owned Irish distillery in the world.

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“One of the best parts of the opportunity is the idea of merging with 250 years of Irish history. I consider it ‘buying in’ vs. a ‘buy out,’ ” Folliard said.