Renegade Spirits

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BGF, the UK’s most active investor of growth capital, has provided £5m of long-term funding for Renegade, a London headquartered business which is developing a major whiskey project on Ireland’s south-eastern coast. The funding will be used for continued development and production of single malt whiskey at Renegade’s Waterford distillery in Ireland.

Renegade’s founders – Mark Reynier, Sir John Mactaggart and John Adams –  are veterans of the drinks industry having previously acquired the disused Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay off the West Coast of Scotland in 2002. They rebuilt the distillery and brand, before selling the business to Remy Cointreau in 2012 for £58m.

The team are looking to develop something similar now in the Irish whiskey market with Renegade with a core focus on quality and provenance of product. With top quality raw ingredients, the purest of spring water from renowned ancient wells, a team of passionate distillers that share the vision, and the very best barley in the world, the goal is to create not just the most compelling Irish whiskey, but the world’s most profound single malt.

Renegade was founded in 2014, and following the purchase of a former Guinness brewery in Waterford, phase 1 of the project saw the team converting it into a state-of-the-art whiskey distillery. The first whiskey ran in January 2016 and 1m litres are now maturing in the best of French and American oak barrels.

Taking proven principles from Islay a step further, Renegade sources its barley from 46 Irish farms on 19 distinct soil types. The provenance of the barley is key, with each farmer’s crop harvested, stored, malted and distilled separately. As a result, Renegade can capture in the spirit each farm’s terroir, that subtle character shaped by micro-climate and soil.

Phase 2 of Renegade’s project involves BGF’s £5m investment, in conjunction with a 14.4m facility from Ulster Bank, to distil maturing stocks at a rate of 1m litres per year.

This represents BGF’s first investment into a company with its core operations in the Republic of Ireland. BGF is taking a minority stake and will have a seat on the board.

To date BGF has invested £1.2bn in over 175 companies. In 2016 BGF was the UK’s most active investor, and 7th worldwide, with £387m provided to UK smaller and mid-sized companies. The company has nine offices across the UK and already has made two investments into Northern Irish companies.  

BGF also supports earlier stage businesses through BGF Ventures and strategic partnerships with larger organisations, including First Derivatives plc, which has offices on Mespil Road in Dublin.

Mark Reynier of Renegade added: “We have known about BGF and their ability to provide long-term capital to growing teams for some time. We considered working with them on Bruichladdich. Their patient, minority investment approach fits well with our own growth plans and we are looking forward to working with the team. 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, high quality brand with a clear proposition. We are hugely excited by what we are doing at Waterford Distillery and for the prospects ahead.”   

Andy Gregory, Regional Director at BGF said: We have long admired the track record of Mark and the other founders of Renegade Spirits and were keen to back this credible and ambitious team. They have proven success with the Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay and are taking that experience and ambition with them to Waterford. 

Making great whiskey requires commitment and patience; so does investment. Over the past six years BGF has been providing long-term capital and support to ambitious small- and mid-sized businesses. To date, our expansion has been focused on the UK – where we have now nine offices, and have backed more than 175 companies with more than £1.2bn - but we have always known that there would be a role for BGF’s equity capital in Ireland’s entrepreneurial community.

We are preparing to strengthen our presence in Ireland and are keen to hear from more ambitious businesses that want to scale up their operations.”

Ulster Bank’s Managing Director of Commercial Banking, Eddie Cullen said:

We’re delighted to support Renegade’s Waterford Distillery Ltd. with this €14.4m credit facility. Whiskey production is a unique industry and our team has extensive sectoral experience so we have been more than happy to provide expert, meaningful help. Ulster Bank increased lending to business customers by 19% in 2016 and we are committed to continuing this support for businesses in Ireland in 2017. Renegade’s Waterford Distillery Ltd. is passionate about whiskey and that passion is reflected in this project, so Ulster Bank is proud to help them fulfil their ambitions and grow their business.”

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