Kinsale Spirit Company predicts eightfold growth in sales

Consumer demand for Irish whiskey and gin are buoying up the new independent distillers of award-winning brands, such as Kinsale and Summer Cove gins and Red Earl Irish Whiskey

Colin Ross, chief executive, Kinsale Spirit Company: ‘Expect this to be a massive year for the industry’. Picture: 528 Creative

A new and independent operation, Kinsale Spirit Company first started selling gin in 2017.

“As new distilleries continue appearing all over the country, expect this to be a massive year for the industry,” said chief executive Colin Ross.

“Our sales are forecast to grow eightfold by 2025, with corresponding growth in Ebitda. We expect the value of the business to grow substantially over the next five years, based on the last three years’ performance and profitability forecasts for the future.”

Ross said that sales of gin and whiskey to the domestic market were forecast to grow strongly over the next five years too.

Kinsale Spirit Company has adopted a business model commensurate with the objectives of building brands and its long-term viability without the need to wait years for the maturation of its own whiskey stocks.

“By pursuing strategic supply contracts with two of Ireland’s top contract distillers, harnessing our own brands, blending and NPD skills, we have launched a range of multi-award-winning brands, paving the route to market for our full portfolio and future own-distillery launches,” said Ross.

The company was originally set up in 2017. “I have a commercial background in the hospitality and beverage space and my two partners are both publicans and entrepreneurs,” said Ross.

“Tom O’Riordan had seen gin sales increase dramatically in his bars in the 2010s. He recruited his sister Clodagh, a qualified distiller, to assist and they went about foraging botanicals, sourcing exotic ingredients and after many iterations – he used to test batches on friends and family – came up with the multi-award-winning recipe that is now Kinsale Gin.”

The key botanicals are foraged around Kinsale and they drew on Clodagh’s time living in the Middle East to include unusual ingredients such as whole black limes and white lemons from Jordan, spearmint and vanilla from further afield. The new product needed marketing support, and so Ernest Cantillon, a local food and beverage entrepreneur, came on board.

As the duo started looking at wider markets for their products, they approached Colin Ross and asked him to join them, before splitting the new company three ways.

There are now five products including award-winning brands, Kinsale and Summer Cove gins and Red Earl Irish Whiskey, Great Earl Single Grain and Spanish Earl Single Malt Irish Whiskey. There are two further whiskeys being launched in Q1 2022 and a significant number of gifting solutions and packages in the pipeline too.

Irish Whiskey exports to the US will top five million nine-litre cases in 2021 and 11.5 million cases globally in 2021, at a value of greater than €1.3 billion from the Republic of Ireland alone, said Ross.

“Premium whiskeys are growing at more than double the rate of standard brands. We currently export to China, the US and a number of other markets. We are in the process of recruiting eight people in US and we have eight staff employed here in Ireland too.”

The company has a close relationship with Musgrave and very solid support from a number of independents like 1601 in Kinsale and the Number 21 off-licence group. “We also sell online and we are working on larger commercial accounts, among them the major US off-licence chains.”

Next year, they hope to build a distillery in Kinsale. “Once our planning permission comes through, we have the gin equipment ready to go and we would hope to be distilling whiskey by the third quarter of 2022,” said Ross.

“Our plan remains to grow our very solid base here in Ireland and the US, and tap into the very real further opportunities overseas.

“We are always looking at potential markets and plan to move into mainland Europe as well as working on states like South Carolina, Illinois and California in 2022.”

Kinsale Spirit Company is looking for €2 million in this raise for ongoing brand and product development, expansion and entry to international markets, new make and aged whiskey as well as phases one and two of the development of the distillery in Kinsale, Co Cork.

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