Saturday 19 October 2019

Whiskey firm Chapel Gate raises €1m in the US and UK

Founder Louise McGuane
Founder Louise McGuane
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey, a Co Clare blender and bonder founded by former Diageo executive Louise McGuane, has raised almost €1m in fresh funding from investors in the United States and the UK.

Filings show that the whiskey company's backers include Jon Rickert, the head of European private credit at the Man investment group. A family partnership under the name of J Patrick Molloy in Atlanta, Georgia, has also invested in the Co Clare business.

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An Atlanta-based firm, Borrachotode, is another investor, as is Ms McGuane's husband, Dominic McCarthy.

They invested a total of €968,000 in cash in the business.

The company was founded in 2015. In 2017, its first blended whiskey, The Gael, was awarded a gold medal in the Irish Whiskey Awards.

Ms McGuane has previously had roles at Diageo, covering strategic communications and commercialisation, while she has also had stints at drinks giants including Jameson owner Pernod Ricard and Moet-Hennessy.

She was based in Singapore, before returning to Ireland to establish Chapel Gate on her family's farm. Whiskey is sold by Chapel Gate under the JJ Corry brand. He was a whiskey bonder from Kilrush in Co Clare.

Bonders bought whiskey from distilleries and then aged it in their own barrels, which had typically previously been used to store drinks such as port and sherry.

Prior to raising money from the UK and US investors, Ms McGuane raised funds via a campaign on Kickstarter. By the end of December 2015, the firm had secured almost £33,000 (€37,000) from 88 backers to get the project off the ground.

The funds were primarily used to buy casks to age whiskey in.

That funding enabled the entrepreneur to source further support from angel investors.

The latest filings for the firm show that it issued shares with a non-cash valuation of €434,000 to its main investors, in return for the acquisition by the company of "aged Irish whiskey".

Earlier this year, it launched a new drink called The Battalion. It is a blended Irish whiskey that has been aged in tequila and mezcal casks.

The whiskey used in the drink was all matured in Chapel Gate's west Clare warehouses.

Ms McGuane is one of an army of entrepreneurs who have established whiskey businesses in Ireland over the past few years.

They are capitalising on a resurgent interest in Irish whiskey, which for the best part of a century lived in the shadow of Scotch.

Pernod Ricard's ownership of Jameson - the biggest-selling Irish whiskey in the world and one of the globe's top 10 spirit brands - helped to pave the way for smaller distilleries to piggyback on its success.

Veteran businessman John Teeling has had significant success in the sector, having sold his Cooley distillery in 2012 to drinks giant Beam for about €85m.

Irish Independent

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