ELLC seeks £750,000 investmentBy Melita Kiely
East London Liquor Company (ELLC) is preparing to launch a £750,000 (US$1.03 million) fundraising campaign to “accelerate” its expansion plans.
ELLC will launch a Crowdcube investment campaign tomorrow (1 May), with the funds earmarked for increasing English whisky production, expansion within domestic sales channels, and driving global sales opportunities in emerging markets.
Based in London’s Bow Wharf, the distillery was founded in 2014 by Alex Wolpert and is currently valued at £15 million. In 2017, the distillery’s sales topped £1.9m, with income from the site’s bar, shop and tour offerings generating more than £1m.
As part of its five-year plan to 2022, the distillery hopes to grow annual sales to 46,000 nine-litre cases by this date, generating sales revenue of £9.8m.
It also intends to quadruple bottle sales to 1.8m by the same date, driven by 30% year-on-year growth. Total sales revenue for the five-year period is forecast to reach £28.7m.
Furthermore, ELLC’s spirits – which include vodka and gin – will launch in two national UK supermarkets this year.
ELLC expanded into rye whisky production in 2015 and added a new, larger still to the site in 2016. All stages of production are controlled in house, enabling the company to experiment with different mash bills for its core whisky product, a London rye, which will be released at the end of 2018.
However, the distillery’s production rate is currently only operating at around 20% capacity – something it hopes to increase through its fundraising efforts.
“We’re the first distillery in London’s east end in over 100 years,” said Wolpert. “The equipment is there to meet our expansion goals, we just need to run it more often. Half of the money will help us recruit more staff, brew more often, run our stills more often, and produce more whisky – our whisky is definitely going to be our main focus.
“We have a lot of interest from people asking when they can try our whisky and we have around 100 people every week at the distillery. We’re starting small with our whisky release later this year at just a few hundred bottles – simply because we just don’t have the liquid – but we’re hoping to grow and expand quickly.”
ELLC currently exports to 20 countries, including Japan, Germany, Australia and Sweden. It hopes to launch in New York and Toronto later this year.
As such, the £750,000 will also be put towards “consolidating” ELLC’s sales teams, both in the UK and abroad, and allow the business to fulfil its global expansion plans – with particular focus on China’s on-trade.
“The bar scene in China is incredible,” enthused Wolpert. “The scale of the country and the potential is huge. Our backyard is always to make sure bartenders are on side first and foremost, but we’ve been very lucky to have some retail interest as well.
“At the moment, we’re laying down whisky in chestnut, white wine, red wine, ex-Bourbon barrels. Over time, we’ll start to finesse, see what works, what doesn’t work, what needs more time, less time.
“We’d like to be releasing a majority of liquid that comes of age within three to four years, but hold some back for different barrels and further barrel experimentation.”
ELLC’s Crowdcube fundraiser will run until midnight on 31 May. Further details can be found at crowdcube.com/eastlondonliquorcompany.