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Northern Irish brewery acquired by Quintessential Brands

Northern Irish craft brewery Clanconnel Brewing Company has attracted investment from international drinks group Quintessential Brands Ireland to drive the growth of its beers in international markets.

Quintessential has taken a 33 per cent holding in Clanconnel, which is based near Lurgan in county Armagh and was established in 2008 by Mark Pearson, the managing director, and has also been assisted by Richard Ryan and Steven Pattison, of the local design and distribution business, Drinksology.

Clanconnel, one of Northern Ireland’s original craft breweries, produces six beers under the McGrath brand named after Master McGrath, one of the best known and most successful racing greyhounds. Production is currently outsourced, but there are plans to build a new craft brewery.

The joint venture with Quintessential, owner of various UK spirit brands including Feeney’s Irish Cream Liqueur, will enable Clanconnel to push ahead with plans to expand volume from 16,000 cases to 170,000 over the next three years and to grow exports.

The Clanconnel currently ships its premium Irish beers to Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Italy. The company is targeting growth in these markets as well as the US, Australia and China.

Warren Scott, chief executive of Quintessential Brands, says: “There has been an explosion in production of craft beer and they have successfully competed with the larger beer companies. We see a real opportunity to internationalise the McGrath’s brand.

“The acquisition also marks a crucial point in the development of Quintessential Brands Ireland as we continue to diversify and expand our portfolio of award-winning brands. This joint venture is part of the long-term strategy for our business to establish ourselves as an international player within the global drinks industry,” he adds.

The announcement follows Quintessential Brands’ recent £7 million acquisition and investment in the Dublin Whiskey Company and 2014 acquisition of First Ireland Spirits as it continues to invest in its portfolio of Irish drink brands.

Quintessential Brands will assume responsibility for managing the international sales, marketing and distribution of McGrath’s, utilising Quintessential Brands’ international brand management and an extensive global sales team to develop new channels.  Drinksology will continue to distribute the brand in Northern and the Republic of Ireland.

Mark Pearson adds: “We’re really excited to embark on this new partnership with Quintessential Brands Ireland.  The move will allow McGrath’s Premium Irish Ales to use Quintessential Brands’ marketing expertise and international channels and build a successful, sustainable premium Irish craft beer brand.  The demand for craft beer is growing rapidly, we see this partnership as a key development which will enable McGrath’s Premium Irish Ales to become a real competitor on the international stage.”

Quintessential Brands was founded by Enzo Visone, former chief executive of Gruppo Campari, and former investment banker, Warren Scott in 2011.  In addition to Quintessential Brands Ireland, which includes First Ireland Spirits and the Dublin Whiskey Company, the group is made up of the Quintessential Brands Company; G&J Distillers, the world’s oldest gin distiller; Essential Drinks Company, the business-to-business supply division; Marblehead, the UK brand development agency; and L&L, a leading manufacturer of fruit spirits and liqueurs.

Quintessential Brands Ireland’s brand portfolio includes:  The Dubliner Irish Whiskey, The Dublin Liberties Irish Whiskey, Feeney’s Irish Cream Liqueur and O’Mara’s Irish Country Cream.

Quintessential Brands UK’s spirits portfolio includes Greenall’s The Original London Dry Gin, BLOOM London Dry Gin, Berkeley Square London Dry Gin, and Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin, which are all produced by G&J Distillers.  The company also recently launched Thomas Dakin Small Batch Gin, inspired by the forefather of quality English gin.

Quintessential Brands’ French portfolio includes Alizé Passion Liqueurs, Toussaint Coffee Rum Liqueur and Baron de Clovignac Cognac.

Northern Ireland Food and Drink companies are also celebrating the regions pure, natural, quality food and drink in 2016, with a series of local, national, and international promotional events.

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