By SAM BUTLER
The relentless pursuit of different taste experiences and new products which underpins Northern Ireland’s dynamic distilling industry is evidenced by the recent launch of a new Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur by Copeland Distillery in Donaghadee.
Branded as ‘Northern Ireland’s Coastal Distillery’, it has successfully blended its distilled spirit with a cold brew coffee, brewed in its own coffee shop from freshly roasted beans to create what the company describes as big and bold flavour for lovers of something quite different.
The beans, carefully roasted by Wild Heart in Bangor, are used in the distillery’s popular coffee shop, now a magnet for visitors and locals. It’s also where tours of the distillery start. The organic coffee is further infused with cocoa nibs for “a fuller, more luxurious mouthfeel”, according to distillery founder Gareth Irvine.
The new liqueur follows the successful launch late last year of an initial product.
“After the success of the first Copeland Coffee Liqueur release, our team wasted no time.
“We jumped straight back in and looked at our endless options for the second release.
“The result – a rich cold brew coffee with notes of melting dark chocolate, velvety vanilla sweetness and a warming finish,” Gareth explains.
“Think bold, indulgent, decadent,” he adds.
The liqueur is the most recent in a series of original spirits distilled in Donaghadee by the enterprising business. It already has a successful portfolio of gins, Irish whiskey and rums. These are increasingly in global markets, especially North America.
Copeland and other local distillers are driving Northern Ireland’s exports forward fast and also contributing significantly to innovation and employment across Northern Ireland.
There are now around 20 distilleries already in operation or planned in the short-term.
A further two distilleries – Belfast Distillery at the iconic Crumlin Road Gaol and Titanic in the old Harland and Wolff Pumphouse in Titanic Quarter, are scheduled to open within months and will also feature extensive visitor centres geared especially at the developing tourism industry.
In addition to the conventional spirits, distilleries here are also producing traditional poitin as well as premium cream liqueurs.
The tourism potential of local distilleries is now being promoted by the Irish Whiskey Association in Dublin and TouristNI – the latter recently launched a map of 10 distilleries, including Copeland in Donaghadee.
Entrepreneur Gareth launched Copeland in Saintfield, County Down, in the summer of 2016 with £30,000 raised from a crowdfunding campaign that was supported by almost 400 founders, who pledged between £50 and £100 to the venture.
The initial portfolio of spirits featured natural fruit infused gins which won widespread acclaim and sales through bars, hotels and off licenses. He subsequently switched the small distillery to the new premises, a renovated cinema, in Donaghadee in August 2019 and has continued to enjoy substantial growth since then as a result of his focus on innovation in craft distilling.
The project was embraced by the community in Donaghadee, which shared Gareth’s interest in the town’s maritime traditions and its role as a lifeboat base. The compact distillery has won international acclaim – and, most importantly, increasing sales – for Classic Irish and Navy Strength gins, its rums and malt and pot-still whiskeys from three copper stills, two whiskey and one gin still.
Copeland shipped the first 15,000 bottles of Copeland gin, whiskey and rum to stores and bars in Texas, Arizona, New Hampshire, Colorado, Missouri and Georgia.
A further 40,000 bottles are set for another five states across the US.
The contracts were the result of a partnership between Copeland Distillery and trade promotion firm Tradebright, which has offices in Waterford, Washington and Los Angeles.
The distillery’s export focus is on its core range: Rhuberry Gin, Jones 1778 Navy Strength Gin, Smugglers’ Reserve Rum and Merchants’ Quay Blended Irish Whiskey.
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