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Copeland Distillery secures US distribution

Spirits producer The Copeland Distillery has signed a distribution deal that will see its portfolio of gin, rum and whiskey sold across the US.

L-R: Mark Prentice and Gareth Irvine of The Copeland Distillery

The Irish distillery has partnered with US-based Tradebright, which will import the range and help secure new distributors and retail partners across North America.

The first shipment to the US contains 15,000 bottles, with more than 40,000 bottles due for delivery by the end of the year.

New distribution agreements have already been secured in various states, including Missouri, Texas, Idaho, Arizona, New Hampshire, Colorado and Georgia.

The export focus is on the distillery’s core range: Rhuberry Gin, Jones 1778 Navy Strength Gin, Smugglers’ Reserve Rum and Merchants’ Quay Blended Irish Whiskey.

Gareth Irvine, founder of The Copeland Distillery, said: “Our range represents the best of Northern Ireland’s craftsmanship and the rich history of Donaghadee, so we are thrilled that we have started to share these stories with and connect to US consumers.

“This is a significant milestone in our journey as we look to double our volumes by the end of 2023. We’re really pleased with the initial feedback from distributors, retailers and on-trade customers, and the state-by-state approach Tradebright has applied to growing our presence in the US.

“The US is a complex market to crack, given the differing alcohol regulations in each state but we are now primed to deliver significant volumes in the gin, rum and whiskey categories. We have a unique portfolio with a number of award-winning spirits setting us apart from the competition, and we now have the resource when it comes to the level of research, admin and on-the-ground support needed to enter and grow in this market.”

With the increased availability now secured across North America, the business is on track to sell more than 25,000 cases globally in 2022, and deliver against a target of more than 40,000 cases in 2023.

Mary Daniels, director of global trade at Tradebright, said: “In 2021, approximately 851,000 thousand cases – more than 10 million bottles – of premium Irish whiskey were sold across the US and as demand continues to grow, relationships like ours with The Copeland Distillery are really exciting.

“The Copeland range has already sparked an interest with US buyers and distributors as there are so few Irish craft distilleries producing such a diverse range of premium quality rum, whiskey and gin.

The first shipment to the US includes 15,000 bottles

“With six states already signed up and more in the pipeline, we’re looking forward to establishing the Copeland brand right across the US over the next few years.”

The Copeland Distillery opened its Donaghadee site in 2019, investing more than £1 million (US$1.22m) into a former community centre and cinema that had lay dormant in the heart of the town for 20 years.

Mark Prentice, commercial director at The Copeland Distillery, added: “2022 is a set to be a transformative year for us in terms of our export business, not only in the US but in terms of new distributors added in Canada, Sweden and Africa.

“A lot has changed domestically too with new listings across Northern Ireland and an expanding footprint in the Republic of Ireland, with Classic Drinks recently appointed to distribute the range.

“Our new producers’ licence means that we can significantly grow our online business and operate our tours as we always envisioned we would. All of this ensures that we can attract new visitors to the distillery and create more jobs in the local area.”

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