Saturday December 14, 2019

New distillery Disruptive hoping to shake up drinks market

24th November, 2019
Disruptive Spirits - Left to right Eanna Burke,head distiller, Damian Heary, strategy and brand positioning, Viki O'Brien, MD and Pat O'Brien, CEO

Drinks with a twist is the USP of the new Inchicore-based distillery and spirit academy Disruptive Spirits. “We distill alcoholic drinks and spirits,” said chief executive Pat O’Brien. “We are disruptive in name, nature and action. We think unbound and have plans for exceptionally unusual drinks products.”

O'Brien and his wife Viki, Disruptive's managing director, saw that there was a gap in the market and that many producers and visitor attractions are traditional in their approach. “We are both very outgoing and love the social scene in Dublin,” said Viki O’Brien. “We wanted to bring a fun, adventurous but also socially conscious product and experience to Dublin, to shake up the industry.”

In 2017, they acquired a warehouse in Goldenbridge for Rascals Brewing Company and part of the building was retained for the future development of the distillery and distilling academy. “We planned and saved for the capital investment and when the time was right Viki decided to leave her full-time position to drive the project forward,” said Pat O’Brien.

“Sustainability is important to us,” he said. “We have developed an unusual method of lowering our carbon footprint in the sourcing of our botanicals. We will use solar energy, energy-saving equipment in-house, and alternative packaging ideas. Being inclusive, we have been in discussion with several different groups regarding employment.”

Disruptive Spirits will also be opening a distilling academy where people can come along, take a tour of the facility and learn about several different spirits, and innovative ways to use the botanicals. There will be a mixologists’ creative space resource for bartenders and mixologists to innovate.

Pat O’Brien and his business partner successfully raised funds through the EIIS scheme, where they progressed this project through licensing and planning. The company was later sold to an international company in Britain and now operates under Dublin Liberties Distillery.

When the company was sold, the EIIS investors were rewarded with an early repayment of their investment along with a substantial uplift. O’Brien was instrumental in the expansion of Rascals Brewing Company, where he became involved in the investment and is part of the management team. He has also been involved in raising funds for Rascals through an EIIS scheme last year.

Viki O’Brien has racked up 27 years in company management. Her management background spans a number of industries and she had her own food and drink retail business in the UK employing 90 employees across three locations.

Last July, Pat O’Brien met Eanna Burke who has his own micro distillery in Rathcoole. “Eanna has since come on board as a director and our head distiller,” said O’Brien. “He’s bringing his adventurous distilling experience to Disruptive Spirits. He’s very experimental and isn’t afraid to try unusual recipes.”

Damien Heary, founder of Futavista Brand consultancy, is now working closely with the team. Over the past 20 years, he has held roles in Diageo, Carlsberg international and most recently with William Grant & Sons, working across future strategy, brand positioning, innovation and insight.

The plan is to open the distillery and the spirit academy in early spring 2020. “We will launch with two core products and continue to develop new products,” said Viki O’Brien. “We plan on holding innovative marketing events to catch the attention of our target audiences. We are going to be doing social botanicals and asking people in the local area to become social botanists and join in on our journey.”

The company also has plans for a guerrilla gardening campaign where they will plant botanicals in overgrown areas around the distillery building.

“It is our plan to be exporting by Q4 2020 and will then look at expanding the model to other European cities and beyond,” Viki O'Brien said. “We must mention the great support we have received from both Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland in our work to date.”

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