Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin nominated with top brands for US industry award

Co-owner Pat Rigney says the news comes at ‘a pivotal time’ for the business

Shed Distillery founder and co-owner Pat Rigney, pictured in Austin, Texas where he is attending the annual EY Entrepreneur of the year chief executive retreat. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, made by The Shed Distillery in Co Leitrim, has been nominated for spirit of the year in Wine Enthusiast magazine’s annual Wine Star Award in the United States, a significant industry accolade.

The drinks maker’s flagship product is nominated alongside Scotch whiskey Ardbeg, which is owned and made by Moët Hennessy, and Woodford Reserve, a small batch bourbon made by Jack Daniels.

The awards, in their 23rd year, honour “individuals and companies that make outstanding contributions to the wine and alcohol beverage world”, according to Wine Enthusiast’s website. The winners of the 13 categories will be announced at a gala event in January 2023.

Speaking from Austin, Texas, where he is attending the annual EY Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) chief executive retreat, managing director Pat Rigney – who owns the distillery with his wife Denise Rigney – said the nomination comes at a “pivotal time for the business” in US market where its sales have increased “dramatically” over recent years.


“This is a dream for a drinks band to be up with the top international brands and distilleries,” the former EOY finalist said, adding that he was “on still on a high” after the nominations were announced earlier this week.

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin was also recently named a “hot brand prospect” by M Shanken Communications in the US as part of its regular marketing update called Impact, an important source of data and trends in the drinks industry.

“This is only awarded to breakthrough brands with a successful trajectory of sales and brand equity,” Mr Rigney said. “What a week to be in the US!”

Impact’s analysis indicated that sales of the Irish spirit in the US had increased 21 per cent in 2021 to 69,000 cases.

The company behind the product, PJ Rigney Distillery & International Brands, was founded in 2014 and began producing gin two years later. Since then Mr and Mrs Rigney have opened a €3.5 million visitor centre, gift shop and cafe at the site of the distillery in Drumshanbo, and secured listings with Four Seasons hotels, Royal Caribbean cruise ships, Whole Foods and Target in the US, as well as Disney.

Employing more than 50 people last year, the company has also launched whiskey and vodka products. Abridged accounts for the year to the end of September 2021 show that PJ Rigney Distillery & International Brands Ltd increased its accumulated profits to €8.7 million, with sales growing by about 30 per cent to more than €12 million.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times