West Cork Distillers founder John O’Connell is named EY Industry Entrepreneur of the Year 2020
Alan Wall
Alan Wall
Associate Director Corporate Finance

West Cork Distillers founder John O’Connell can now add EY Industry Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 to the growing list of milestones that the company has achieved in recent years. For the first time, the annual awards ceremony was held virtually this year and attracted an online audience of more than 2,000 people. John’s award was made all the more impressive given the notable shortlist of nominations that included, among others, Seamus O’Hara, founder of Carlow Craft Brewing (another client of Cantor Fitzgerald), and General Paints Group founder Kevin O’Connor.

It has been a rapid rise for the Skibbereen based distillery in a relatively short time frame. Founded in 2008, West Cork Distillers is one of the largest wholly Irish owned distilleries in the country. Having expanded production capacity in recent years, it now has a distillation capacity of 4.5 million litres of pure alcohol, which is equivalent to 1.25 million nine-litre cases of Irish Whiskey on a per annum basis.

In 2017, West Cork Distillers purchased a property at Marsh Road, Skibbereen and has now moved all operations to the new site which has enabled the business to increase production and expand its storage capacity.

That move was followed by the state-owned Ireland Strategic Investment Fund investing in West Cork Distillers in 2019. This was a significant endorsement and has had positive impact on existing and prospective customers.

More recently West Cork Distillers has completed the construction of 1,000 sqm of warehousing and a new production facility for intermediary alcohol bases used for incorporation into other alcoholic beverages, an area which the company believes can offer potential for further international growth.

With distributors across the globe, its award-winning West Cork Irish Whiskey and Garnish Island Gin are now being sold in almost 70 countries. The company has commercial staff in the USA, UK, Russia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Since 2015 Cantor Fitzgerald private clients have invested c.€10m in West Cork Distillers, via the Employment and Investment Incentive Scheme. The first tranche matured in 2020 and those investors eligible to be repaid were successfully redeemed with a 20% uplift in value as per the original terms.  The second tranche is due for repayment in 2021.  This is another example of Cantor Fitzgerald supporting Irish SME’s while also delivering an investment return for our private clients.

Alan Wall is an Associate Director of Corporate Finance at Cantor Fitzgerald Ireland.

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