High-profile backers pour €500,000 into whiskey company as distillery revolution gathers pace
DAA boss Kevin Toland, businessman Greg Sparks, and the chief executive of Dawn Farm Foods, Larry Murrin, are among those who've invested over €500,000 in the Dublin Whiskey Distillery Company as they hope to capitalise on the surge in interest in the sector.
Founded by former Diageo and Glanbia executive Lorcan Rossi, Dublin Whiskey Distillery is still plotting its strategy, including whether or not it will actually own a distillery.
Mr Rossi, who was finance director with Glanbia for six years until 2014, told the Irish Independent that he's in talks with a number of third parties in relation to various options.
"Owning a distillery is not a prerequisite for making a great whiskey," he said, adding that casks and maturation play one of the most important roles.
Mr Rossi, who spent 10 years at drinks giant Diageo as a senior finance executive, said that he hopes to have firmed up the whiskey company's strategy within a few months. He added that there's huge potential for Irish whiskey brands. Mr Murrin, who also served as president of employers' group Ibec until last year, has invested €200,000 in Dublin Whiskey Distillery.
He has also been appointed a director of the startup.
Mr Toland, who headed Glanbia's North America business until 2012 when he took over the boss of DAA, has invested €150,000. Semi-state DAA controls Dublin and Cork Airports.
Greg Sparks has also been appointed a director of the whiskey company. He personally invested €100,000, but a number of his family members have also been given stakes in the business in return for an additional total investment of €100,000.
Mr Sparks is a founding partner of RSM Farrell Grant Sparks, which merged with Grant Thornton last year.
Mr Sparks is also a shareholder in Joe Duffy Motors and involved in a number of other firms. He is on the board of Denis O'Brien's Digicel group.
The Dublin Whiskey Distillery will be competing in what become an increasingly crowded market as the renaissance of the spirit here continues.
Veteran entrepreneur John Teeling served as the advance guard for the new wave of startups, having sold his Cooley Distillery operation to US giant Jim Beam in 2011 for €73m.
His son, Jack, currently heads the Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Dublin's Liberties.
The family are also behind the Great Northern Distillery in Dundalk, Co Louth. They recently secured a €5m investment for that operation and will probably raise another €5m for it towards the end of this year.
The Dublin Whiskey Company is also planning to build a distillery in the capital. In 2012, it bought a site in the Liberties with plans for a €10m distillery and visitor centre. The company is headed by chief executive Ed O'Flaherty.
Apart from new distilleries, a large number of beer brewers have also been launched here.