Fermanagh craft distillery toasts US deal for unique gin

Fermanagh-based Boatyard Double Gin has won business in the US for its award-winning gins with New York-based MHW, a major international importer and distributor of alcoholic beverages.

The breakthrough deal will see Boatyard, formed by beverage industry professional Joe McGirr in 2016, launch its range of uniquely distilled gins at a major promotional event in Brooklyn early next month.  A native of Fermanagh, Mr McGirr formed the craft distillery on the back of a successful career in the drinks business.

A Food NI member company, Boatyard Double Gin, which features Sweet Gale, a unique botanical from Fermanagh, will go on sale initially in three states – New York, Massachusetts and Illinois. The US market for gin is reported to be worth over £2 billion annually…and growing.

Mr McGirr, commenting on the first US business, says: “I am thrilled to have won this distribution deal in what is among the biggest global markets for spirits including gin. I identified MHW after a lengthy search for a distributor there which would be an ideal fit for our small business.

“MHW has a wealth of experience in representing smaller producers in particular and a network of great contacts, especially in key business centres such as New York, Chicago and Boston, that will help us to grow significant business there,” he adds.

The US deal follows another major business breakthrough in North America last month when Boatyard gained approval from the highly influential Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) for sale of its gins throughout Ontario and especially in Toronto. The approval followed a rigorous selection process.

Mr McGirr explains: “Only a handful of brands get past the long and rigorous selection process to enter the Ontario market. This usually takes 12 months or more. Unique sized bottles, special French and English labels and intensive testing are required prior to approval.”

LCBO is an Ontario Government enterprise and one of the world’s largest buyers and retailers of beverage alcohol. It offers more than 26,000 products annually from more than 80 countries, to consumers and licensed establishments.

Mr McGirr continues: “LCBO sells to over 660 retail stores, over 210 agency stores and as wholesaler to almost 250 grocery stores, as well as on-trade licensed premises.”

“The developments in the US and Canada come at a really exciting time for us as this year we have received our new custom-built pot still which enables us to double production capacity,” he adds.

Boatyard Double Gin is based overlooking Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh, near Enniskillen, in a former boat house. The company now features a state-of-the- art distillery which is producing a range of award-winning gins as well as a recently launched vodka.

In addition, the small company is maturing the first malt whiskey to be distilled in Fermanagh since 1887.

Mr McGirr continues: “Only the best organic ingredients have been chosen for each of the products with the terroir of the land at the forefront of each spirit. For Boatyard Double Gin, organically produced wheat spirit is macerated for 18 hours with eight different botanicals including Sweet Gale from Fermanagh.”