In the early part of 2020, the team at Lough Ree Distillery were busy preparing for a series of events in Germany and a large International Trade Fair. While Covid was on the radar, the speed at which it prompted worldwide lockdowns, and the enduring impact of those on businesses could not have been anticipated.
The team were fortunate enough to spot early on the need for hand sanitiser and with the help of Johnston’s Pharmacy were able to quickly develop and manufacture a range of Irish-made hand sanitisers and develop a new line of business, while also supplying to charities, nursing homes, emergency services and those who needed it most.
This business is ongoing with customers all over Ireland and prompted another innovation, the CosSan touchless foot-operated dispenser unit, being manufactured in Ballymahon by Cooney Precision Engineering, now installed at over 300 locations across Ireland in offices, churches, nursing homes, factories and hospitality settings.
On the drinks side of things, the team have been innovating as well, bringing out their new Aiteal , the only 100% Irish gin and launching their Gin School at Home kit.
“With the economic climate at the time, we were unsure as to whether to go ahead with releasing our Aiteal Irish Gin, but when it won a Gold Medal at the World Gin Masters, we decided to go for it,” said Michael Clancy.
“Our Sling Shot Gin School is closed since March, so we developed the Gin School at Home Kit to bring the experience to people at home - this has been very successful, especially in the run up to Christmas.”
The distillery has also just released two new whiskies in The Bridge series- Mountdillon and The Station.
“These two peated whiskies are our tribute to all of those who have worked in peat harvesting & power generation in our locality over the last 71 years, and is our way of marking their contribution to the vibrant community we have today. There has been a tremendous response to these limited releases and at this stage they are both 75% sold out.”
With assistance from Longford LEO, Lough Ree Distillery have developed the online sales element of their business, and are now shipping their products all over Europe.
They have recently appointed distributors in Italy and Estonia, with other countries in the works as well. They have also greatly increased their national and international media profile, with coverage across TV, radio, and print media this year.
According to Sheila Mullen, “Online sales have really taken off for us and the media coverage has helped to drive this. We’re not just building a distillery, we are building a global drinks business, so all this activity is hugely important, as well as providing vital income from sales.”
As recently reported in The Longford Leader, Lough Ree Distillery has been awarded funding of €1m from the Just Transition Fund, one of several projects in the area to receive funding.
Peter Clancy stated that “the funding is provisional at this stage, but it represents a massive vote of confidence in our project from government agencies and will allow us to drive forward with our main Distillery project.
“We would like to thank all the local and national representatives who helped us to get to this point and Longford County Council and the LEO team for their support and cooperation along the way.
“We are also extremely grateful for the support of the people of Longford and The Midlands who have really got behind our business through this difficult year. We’d like to wish all of your readers a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and we look forward to brighter times ahead in 2021 for us all.”
Visit www.lrd.ie to view the extensive range of gift offerings available from Lough Ree Distillery this Christmas.