Business Irish

Tuesday 23 September 2014

High hopes, high spirits: ambitious plans for luxury Irish vodka brand

Published 06/07/2014 | 02:30

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Kalak vodka will hit the market in October.

An Irish vodka is being launched by a former commercial director of the world's top luxury brand.

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Kalak vodka will hit the market in October. It's the brainchild of Tipperary man Patrick Shelley, who until recently was commercial director of luxury behemoth LVMH Moet Hennessy in Russia.

It will be primarily targeted at overseas consumers, although it will also be available at home. Mr Shelley aims to emulate the success of Irish whiskeys such as Jameson, which has proved a runaway success for French owner Pernod Ricard, with the premium vodka. It will be priced between €30 and €38 in Europe. Vodka is popular with Irish consumers but at entry-level rather than premium prices.

The vodka will be made in West Cork using local ingredients. Its name, Kalak, is the phonetic spelling for the Irish name Ceallaich - the Celtic goddess of winter. "We expect to launch in Ireland in October, and then progressively roll out to other European markets. The principle export focus, however, will be the US, followed by Canada and Brazil. Our distribution strategy will be selective, focusing primarily on top off-licences, bars and restaurants," said Mr Shelley.

He has invested €150,000 in the company. Outside investment will be sought from the middle of next year.

"Ireland has a lot of brand equity; people really trust Irish spirits. Our brand is about modern Ireland, mixing the natural beauty and mythology with contemporary design."

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