Irish whiskey fund launches

6th June, 2018 by Amy Hopkins

As the Irish whiskey sector continues its rapid growth, a first-of-its-kind fund has been created to support producers.

The Irish Whiskey Growth Fund will offer working capital to whiskey businesses that are waiting for their stocks to reach maturity

Ilen River Partners today (6 June) launched the Irish Whiskey Growth Fund with the support of the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).

The fund has an initial amount of €10 million (US$11.7m) available for whiskey stock financing loans and will increase the sum “as required to meet demand”.

Loans will be secured against borrowers’ existing whiskey stocks, allowing them to achieve scale in their first few years of operation. The participating companies will remain under the control of their existing management.

Three industry experts will offer strategic and technical advice to the participating Irish whiskey distilleries and businesses: Alan Rutherford, Diageo’s former whisky production director; Gordon Steele, founding director of the Scotch Whisky Research Institute; and Jack O’Shea, the former European general manager for Alltech oversaw the creation of the group’s Pearse Lyons Distillery in Dublin.

“Whiskey distilleries are playing an ever more vital role within the Irish economy,” said Fearghal Ó Ríordáin, founder managing director of Ilen River Partners.

“There were just two whiskey distilleries on the island in the early 1980s. There are now 18 distilleries in operation, with more distilleries in the pipeline, all contributing to Irish tourism, agriculture, trade and exports.”

Ó Ríordáin also noted that Irish whiskey is the world’s fastest growing spirits sector, with value exports estimated to reach €2bn (US$2.35bn) by 2020.

According to a report from Bord Bia, the Irish food board, 2017 exports of Irish whiskey increased by 20% to €600m (US$716m).

“As part of the lending process, the fund will provide flexible, tailored financing, strategic commercial advice and specialist industry expertise for developing and growing a whiskey business,” he continued. “We now look forward to engaging with whiskey businesses across the country.”

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