Ilen River Partners launches Irish Whiskey Growth Fund, supported by ISIF

6 June 2018

Ilen River Partners has today launched the Irish Whiskey Growth Fund, the first fund established exclusively to lend to whiskey distilleries and businesses across Ireland. The Fund initially has more than €10m of capital available for whiskey stock financing loans and intends to grow as required to meet demand. The Fund will be supported by leading international whiskey experts who will offer key strategic and technical input to participating businesses.

The establishment of the Fund is a clear endorsement of the importance of the whiskey industry for the Irish economy. The support from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) allows the Fund to provide a financing product which is specific to the needs of growth stage whiskey businesses, and which they cannot currently obtain from other market sources.

Whiskey businesses need to lay down stock early in their development in order to scale. However, given the long-term nature of the whiskey sales cycle, the businesses require financing solutions suited to a long time horizon to achieve scale.

The Fund will provide stock-financing loans secured on borrowers’ existing whiskey stock, and tailored to the specific needs of participating businesses. With this access to growth capital, complementing existing sources of equity finance, business owners will be able to focus their efforts on producing quality whiskey and achieving scale. The Fund will not seek to appoint directors, and borrowers will remain managed and controlled by their founders or existing management and shareholders.

The Fund will also support distilleries by providing strategic commercial advice and access to industry knowledge and expertise. Leading international whiskey experts, Dr. Alan Rutherford, Dr. Gordon Steele and Jack O’Shea, are making available their decades of technical and wider industry expertise to the businesses that will benefit from the Fund.

Ilen River Partners is led by founder and Managing Partner, Fearghal Ó Ríordáin, an experienced investor in growth companies with a deep interest in the Irish whiskey industry. Fearghal said: "Whiskey distilleries are playing an ever more vital role within the Irish economy. There were just two whiskey distilleries on the island in the early 1980s. There are now 18 distilleries in operation, with more distilleries in the pipeline, all contributing to Irish tourism, agriculture, trade and exports."

"The Irish whiskey industry is the fastest growing spirits sector in the world. The value of Irish whiskey exports was more than €400m in 2015, €600m in 2017 and is forecast to be in excess of €850m by 20201. On current and forecast growth levels, Irish whiskey exports will reach €2bn by 2030. The sector brings significant benefits to the Irish economy. By way of comparison, exports of Scotch whisky contributed approximately €4.9bn to the UK economy last year. As part of the lending process, the Fund will provide flexible, tailored financing, strategic commercial advice and specialist industry expertise for developing and growing a whiskey business. We now look forward to engaging with whiskey businesses across the country."

The Fund is open for business and further details can be found at www.ilenriverpartners.ie/funds.

Ireland Strategic Investment Fund