AIB Corporate Banking Customer Pat Cooney on realising his dream to set up a distillery
05 Feb 2016
Posted in: Business
When Pat Cooney left his hometown of Drogheda in 1965 to seek success in the business world, he could never have imagined just how successful a return he would make some 49 years later.
A dedicated entrepreneur and long-term AIB Corporate Banking customer, Pat made his name setting up the highly successful Gleeson Group in Tipperary. Now he’s returned to his native Drogheda to spearhead the ambitious family venture Boann Distillery.
“I’ve been in the drinks business for the past 40 years, and whiskey was one of the thingsI’vealways wanted to do,” Pat says.
Building a Distillery from Scratch
The site for the distillery sits just outside the Boyne Valley, a stunning space which is currently humming with activity as production commences. The location is steeped in history as Drogheda boasts one of the first written records of whiskey production in Ireland.
“At the moment we have a 30 people in the building. When we’re in production that will grow to about 60-80. “
Family is at the crux of this innovative company, with each member of the Cooney family lending their own particular talent to the business.
He explains: “It’s very much a family thing, everybody has a contribution to make. The whole idea of the project is about family. It’s not about me.
“I’ve had a good run in my day and this is about the family and the future of the family.’
An exciting time for everyone involved, the company has been hard at work to bring their vision to fruition, with a product range that spans craft beer, cider, whiskey, white spirits and liqueur.
There are also plans for a visitor centre, which will help to attract tourism for the local area and to showcase the craftsmanship of the distillery process.
“This time next year the visitor centre will be done,” Pat reveals.
“It’s a big project and involves a lot of planning but it’s an exciting project. We expect to get 100,000 visitors a year.”
He adds: “You’ll be able to see the whole process from theonelocation. There will be a stage with live theatre and a roof garden growing botanicals and a place for people to go and have a drink on a summer evening.”
Outside of Ireland, the company has ambitions to continue its success in the export market with its new range of products.
Pat says: “80-85% of the inputs are indigenous and 80-90% of the production is exported. We export to places likeAustralia,New Zealand, China, Vietnam, America, Canada and thePhilippines. I think it’s the kind of project theIrisheconomy needs.’
An ambitious project overall, the Drogheda native confirms that the logistics of such an ambitious project are complex, with over 24 licences required to get up and running.
Pat says: “It’s been a difficult journey. You have new building regulations, fire regulations, health regulations, food regulations. The facility itself here will require a lot of planning asI'm sure everyone knows.’
Working with the AIB Corporate Team
An AIB corporate banking customer for the past 20 years, Pat felt that it was a natural fit to work with the bank for this project.
He says: “I'vebanked withAIBCorporate Banking for 20 years. When we came with this project, I was very pleased that the Bank agreed to finance this distillery. They looked and thought it was a great project, and they’ve contributed in a significant way.’
When undertaking such a complex project, Pat considers a deep understanding of the business and a strong relationship to be a top priority.
“I choseAIB, becausethey'reanexcellentgroup to deal with. Theybelievein relationshipbanking, so everybody understands what we’re doing,” he explains.
“They take time tounderstandtheproject. When we ring up, whatever thequeryis, we’re talking to someone whoknowswhat we’re trying to do and whoseesthis as another great project.”
Find out how the AIB Corporate Banking team can support your business and let us know how we can help.
Watch Pat share his story and show us around the distillery on YouTube.
The featured customer has received a gratuity. Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.