Case study

A lively young spirit enters the Irish whisky market

Renegade Spirits

The story of Renegade Spirits, a London-based drinks business making premium, single malt Irish whisky, began on the Hebridean island of Islay in 2000.

That’s when Mark Reynier and a group of private shareholders acquired the disused Bruichladdich distillery, which they rebuilt, along with the brand, before selling the business to Remy Cointreau in 2012 for £58 million.

Two years later, it was time for a new challenge. Alongside co-founders Sir John Mactaggart and John Adams, Mark founded a new venture, Renegade Spirits. The business purchased a former Guinness brewery in the south-east Irish town of Waterford and began converting it into a state-of-the-art whisky distillery.

€5m

BGF investment in April 2017

The first whisky ran in January 2016 and a million litres are now maturing in French and American oak barrels in new warehouses recently completed in the nearby neighbourhood of Ballygarran.

The key to the new proposition is its focus on quality and provenance of product. Renegade Spirits sources its barley from 46 Irish farms on 19 distinct soil types. The provenance of the barley is crucial, with each farmer’s crop harvested, stored, malted and distilled separately. The barley is combined with pure spring water from renowned ancient wells.

“Distilling is an expensive and long-term game at the best of times and we have a unique, highly focused and uncompromising approach,” explains Mark.

With over 110 distilleries, the Scotch whisky market is 10 times the size of the Irish market. The market is clearly attractive for a new, uber premium brand with a clear proposition. We are hugely excited by what we are doing at Waterford distillery and for the prospects ahead. Roll out those barrels!

Mark Reynier, CEO of Renegade Spirits

Mark says he and his co-founders had considered taking an investment from BGF during the Bruichladdich days. When the time came to seek external funding to develop the Renegade Spirits business, BGF’s patient, minority investment approach was appealing.

BGF’s £5 million investment has supported the continued production of stock for maturation and the initial launch of the brand which happened in summer 2020, with Waterford Whisky now sold in more than 32 countries.

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