Shed Distillery reports record revenues, warns of Covid impact

Company behind Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, sold over 1 million bottles last year

The maker of the popular Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin has reported record revenues for 2019 but warned about the impact of the Covid crisis on the business and the wider drinks industry.

The Shed Distillery in Co Leitrim, which was founded by drinks industry veteran Pat Rigney in 2014, sold more than a million bottles of gin last year and was on target to increase that to about 1.4 million in 2020 until the pandemic struck.

It has just recorded turnover of €8 million for the 12 months to September 2019, up from €7.1 million a year earlier. Operating profits totalled €1.93 million.

The family-owned business, which recently launched its own single-pot still Irish whiskey and is also behind the Sausage Tree Vodka brand, proceeded with plans to open a €3 million visitor centre in September despite the lack of tourists.


However it was forced to close four weeks later due to new lockdown restrictions.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Rigney said “every cent the company has made to date has been reinvested back into the business”, which has helped keep the business afloat during the crisis.

However, he warned the distillery has little in the way of reserves to finance operational costs if the crisis persists into 2021.

The distillery has spent over €1 million in brand marketing across key international markets since last September, with money also invested in new bottling, packing and storage facilities in Drumshanbo.

The company currently employs 50 people, with 15 new jobs added over the last year.

Mr Rigney said 2020 is proving to be extremely challenging for the business with international sales channels closed and on-trade locally also seriously disrupted due to Covid restrictions.

"If 2021 continues as 2020 has, I think it will put us all under," said Mr Rigney, who also owns the distribution company Dalcassian Wines & Spirits along with John Dillon.

“Everything has been turned on its head and things are obviously very challenging for us and everyone else out there in the sector.

“We can’t get out to our markets to sell and obviously travel retail has been hit hard and that is down at least 80 per cent. I’d say we have lost about two years in terms of growth when it is all added up and we have to get that back somehow,” he added.

Mr Rigney said, despite the disruption to business, the Shed Distillery would record “a small profit” for 2020.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist