Distillery leader Joe creates a talented team as sales in NY take off

Master distiller Joe McGirr is toasting the developing success of a major investment to grow sales of his unique double gin and vodka in the strategic New York state from his picturesque Boatyard Distillery in a converted boat house overlooking Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 1:00 pm
Joe McGirr, founder of Boatyard Distillery in Fermanagh

Master distiller Joe McGirr is toasting the developing success of a major investment to grow sales of his unique double gin and vodka in the strategic New York state from his picturesque Boatyard Distillery in a converted boat house overlooking Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh.

Setting up in New York as a springboard to the huge US market for spirits is an important stage in the business journey of the talented entrepreneur, a genuine son of the Fermanagh soil. Joe established Boatyard Distillery in 2016 on the back of a stellar career in the spirits industry especially in Britain.

“North America is easily the world’s biggest marketplace for spirits and drives the global industry,” he explains. “Of course it’s a huge market, easily the world’s most dynamic and one that is best managed in sections, especially for a small distiller like Boatyard with limited resources, to ensure long success.”

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Joe McGirr, founder of Boatyard Distillery in Fermanagh

He is now beginning to see early dividends in the shape of orders for gin and vodka from a bold decision to invest in a management and marketing infrastructure there to support the initial sales and ensure growth in both short and long-terms. He’s methodically creating a structure for Boatyard’s award-winning gins and vodka on the ground in the sprawling state.

It will be also support the business when it launches a single malt Irish whiskey, the first distilled in Fermanagh in over a century, in the near future.

In addition to linking up with Empire Merchants in Brooklyn to distribute the superb portfolio of original spirits, Joe has recruited Michael Smoley, an industry professional known throughout the state and other parts of the US, as market manager based in New York.

Smoley joins the ambitious Boatyard team having just enjoyed a much-lauded tenure at New York’s, NoMad Hotel, where he was one of the key leaders behind the outstanding success of NoMad Cocktail Bars, among the world’s 50 best bars with a host of other industry accolades. NoMad New York Hotel is also home to a widely acclaimed Michelin star restaurant.

Joe is understandably “thrilled” to have such an experienced industry heavyweight heading up his US team.

“Michael has the vast experience and depth of contacts especially in New York that we need to expand sales in the state’s bars and beyond,”

Joe continues. “He is already working closely with Empire, our recently appointed distributors and a premium specialist in wines and spirits which has roots going back to the end of Prohibition. As well as an established network of outlets in New York State, Emerald is well established in other states including Tennessee and Kentucky.

“Our goal is to show New Yorkers first, then the rest of this huge country that Boatyard is a brand worth latching on to and that we are here to stay in the US. We want them to grow to appreciate the quality, passion, transparency and innovation of our business. The stage is set for creating a lasting impact on the US marketplace.

“Our US launch is a landmark moment for Boatyard, and we are overjoyed to be partnered with Empire Merchants in New York. As a business we certainly don’t have limitless resources but securing the services of Michael will allow us to ensure that the Boatyard spirits and service attitude successfully crosses the Atlantic. It displays the strength of our long-term dedication to the US through our strategic focus on premium quality spirits distilled and produced in a sustainable way from exceptional and fully traceable ingredients in Ireland.”

Smoley also joins commercial director Declan McGurk, the former director of bars at the prestigious Savoy Hotel in London, one of the world’s best hotels, on the high-powered Boatyard team. McGurk is spearheading Boatyard brand building and sales in Britain through his vast network of contacts especially in major hotels and high-end restaurants. Both appointments bolster the distillery’s trade credentials, as it strives for profitable expansion in a fiercely competitive marketplace.

The distillery, furthermore, has received support from Invest NI, the business development agency towards the development of the operation and export marketing of the spirits.

Boatyard Double Gin represents the small distillery’s core expression. A 46% ABV Irish distilled gin, Boatyard contains a local botanical called Sweet Gale that Joe forages in the Fermanagh bog land near his family farm. He’s created the otherwise classic recipe from his longstanding experience in distilling a range of spirits including whisky. The double in its name refers to a double contact with juniper during distillation resulting in a unique gin that’s perfect for Martinis and other cocktails.

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