THE Boatyard Distillery in Enniskillen is raising a glass to the Growth Loan Fund after securing £100,000 to increase production and fund working capital requirements.
And as well as creating six additional jobs, the cash injection will support product development and help fulfil export contracts recently secured in Switzerland, Denmark and the USA.
Situated at Tully Bay on the shores of Lough Erne, the Boatyard Distillery was set up in 2016 and currently produces a double gin, an Old Tom gin and vodka.
Owner Joe McGirr said: “Our gin is unique in that some of the botanicals used to distil it are grown on the family farm, in particular sweet-gale gathered from the bogs of Fermanagh.
"Our double gin has secured more than £250,000 of sales in its first year and all 1,200 bottles of our Old Tom gin sold out within 48 hours of launch. It's a competitive market, but we’ve managed to stand out among some strong local brands.”
He added: “The loan has enabled us to purchase two additional stills to increase the distillery’s productivity. We’ve been working on our vodka product for the past year and we’re excited to bring it to market this month.
"The wheat used in our vodka is harvested in Kildare and we can trace how it was grown by the farmer, right back to the field it was planted in. Our vodka’s unique selling point is that it isn’t filtered which helps preserve the taste and lock in the flavour.
“We recently launched our products in Switzerland and Denmark and in April we’ll be launching in the USA. We are exploring other markets and we’ll also be introducing a gift range in the coming months.”
Jenna Mairs, investment manager at WhiteRock Capital Partners, which manages the £50m Growth Loan Fund, said: “The gin scene in Northern Ireland has taken off in recent years, but the Boatyard has differentiated its offering and the introduction of a vodka product will open the doors to a new customer base.
“Joe’s extensive expertise within the drinks industry is evident from the high premium products the distillery is producing. The partnerships with Marks & Spencer, Harrods and Ireland’s three major airports has given the brand international exposure and the company has some exciting plans ahead.”
Iain Lees, managing director of Hannaway CA, which helped advise the company, said: “This deal was particularly complex given the involvement of first-time angel investors, a venture capitalist and a mezzanine lender.
"We are delighted to have been able to bring together these parties and, along with existing bank finance, achieve a successful outcome to support the future growth of the Boatyard Distillery.”