Waitrose business boost as Fermanagh’s Boatyard Distillery invests in sustainability

ABOVE: Boatyard has won business with Waitrose in Britain.

ENTREPRENEUR Joe McGirr was understandably jubilant when one of the UK’s high-end retailers listed the unique double distilled gin he produces in a converted boatyard in the picturesque setting overlooking Lough Erne in County Fermanagh.

Joe’s hugely successful Boatyard Double Gin has now added Waitrose and Partners to his growing portfolio of high profile customers in Britain. Waitrose, which has almost 350 stores across the UK, will sell the gin in its supermarkets and online. The prestigious retailer also exports products to 60 companies worldwide.

ABOVE: Boatyard Distillery overlooks the marina on the lough.

Joe, founder and managing director of the distillery, says: “We’re delighted to bring our Boatyard Double gin to Waitrose and make it more accessible around the UK for people to taste and try. We agonise over the detail that goes into making our gin and it’s fantastic to see it being enjoyed far and wide.”

Waitrose has been influential in taking the craft gin revolution mainstream and prides itself on the quality of the brands it works with.

The deal is another outcome of exclusive partnership agreement this year with Speciality Brands to focus on growing the vitally important UK wide market.

Waitrose is part of Britain’s largest employee-owned retailer, the John Lewis Partnership. Its head offices are located in Bracknell. The respected retailer has over 330 UK supermarkets and shops, including 65 “little Waitrose” convenience shops, and a 5.1 percent share of the market there, making it the eighth-largest retailer of groceries in the UK. The company also has a royal warrant to supply groceries, wine, and spirits to members of the Royal Family.

Listing by Waitrose is the latest success for Boatyard Distillery which now has an impressive portfolio of high-end customers in Britain for its gins. It’s a portfolio which includes Marks & Spencer and the Savoy Hotel’s internationally renowned American Bar in London. The American Bar is a winner of Best International Bar Team 2016 at Tales of the Cocktail, and Best Bar in Europe (second in the world) at the World’s 50 Best Bars.

Boatyard, in addition, has won listings with Harrods in London and Celtic Whiskey Shop in Dublin.

The small distillery takes its name from a former boatyard that Joe has converted into a state-of-the-art craft distillery overlooking the picturesque Lough Erne. The business, furthermore, has a strong commitment to preserving the local environment.

It is one of the first distilleries in the world to be accessible to visitors by both land and water with the ethos of producing farm-to-bottle spirits in one of the most beautiful locations in the British Isles.

Joe launched the business in 2016 on the back of vast experience in distilling and marketing. Boatyard is the first working distillery in Fermanagh in over 130 years.

Focused on creating farm-to-bottle spirits using locally-sourced botanicals that celebrate the region’s rural environment, Boatyard Distillery’s collection includes three core premium expressions: Boatyard Double Gin, Boatyard Old Tom Gin and Boatyard Vodka – alongside seasonal limited editions. The distillery, a Food NI member company, is also currently maturing an Irish single malt whiskey.

Made with spirit from organically grown wheat, the gin uses a combination of organic botanicals, including ‘sweet gale’ harvested from the owner’s local family farm, to give the gin a distinctive smooth, flavourful and refreshing taste profile.

“Boatyard Double Gin is very special as the organically produced wheat spirit goes through a double contact distillation process for a more pronounced flavour,” Joe continues. “This is why we named it a double gin. It is then infused and distilled with sweet gale that we pick from the bogs of Fermanagh, along with the more familiar notes of juniper, lemon, and five other botanicals, to give the gin a very distinctive taste.”

In addition, the progressive and community-focused company has been distilling alcohol-based hand sanitizer for health bodies and also recently secured a deal to supply the product to Tesco Northern Ireland.

Boatyard Distillery, furthermore, is developing an impressive reputation as an environmentally-friendly business and has now taken some major steps towards a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.

Joe says Boatyard’s quest to become more environmentally friendly has been ongoing over the past year. “We are now using some of our by-products to make a bean to bar chocolate and we now use only recyclable shrink wrap on all pallets.

“Our distillery is working towards the huge challenge of being plastic-free. We have started using new, environmentally friendly packaging. Our new protective sleeve not only provides great protection but is plastic-free, paper-based, reusable, recyclable and biodegradable” he adds.
“This is just one small step of many we will be implementing over time to reduce our carbon footprint to help combat global warming because, like a certain president’s hair, you can’t comb over climate change.
“The planet is changing and we all must change too.”

ABOVE: Recyclable packaging developed by Boatyard.

The Boatyard Distillery produces gin, vodka and bean-to-bar chocolate at its state of the art facility on the shores of Lough Erne. The spirits are distributed globally including the US.


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