Beam Inc. buyout unlocked ‘exponential’ growth – 2 Gingers Irish whiskey founder

By Ben BOUCKLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Beam Inc. buyout unlocked ‘exponential’ growth – 2 Gingers founder

Related tags: Distilled beverage, Cocktail

The founder of the US’s fastest-growing Irish whiskey brand 2 Gingers says its buyout by Beam Inc. in December 2012 significantly accelerated growth.

Speaking to BeverageDaily.com, Kieren Folliard, founder and CEO of 2 Gingers said Irish whiskey was the fastest growing category in US spirits, with his brand leading the pack and due to be rolled-out across 50 states this month.

Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) data shows that Irish whiskey sales generated supplier gross revenues of $500m in 2013 (up 20% on 2012) with 2.539m nine-liter cases sold in the country, a 15% increase on the previous year.

2 Gingers cites Nielsen Syndicated Data showing it grew 21% by value in the 13 weeks prior to February 12 2014 and 18% by value, and Folliard says the firm’s patented ‘Big Ginger’ and ‘Skinny Ginger’ cocktails are central to this success.

Boosting whiskey sales in summer

Folliard spent over 25 years in the Irish pub business before leaving to pursue his passion for whiskey, inspired by his mother and aunt, who he describes as the two fiery gingers featured on the bottle​”.

When creating 2 Gingers, the first question we asked ourselves was: ‘How do we sell as much Irish whiskey in the summer as we do in the winter?’​” Folliard says.

“2 Gingers was created with mixability in mind to appeal to the new generation of whiskey drinkers,” ​he adds, before claiming that the cocktails cross the gender divide and all suitable for all seasons.

“To appeal to a broader audience, I realized that we needed a cocktail that was easy to make, cost about the same as a beer and had some character to it,” ​Folliard says.

This interest in cocktails underpinned the design of  2 Gingers itself, as a whiskey distilled specifically to be enjoyed in a mixed drink, and the Big Ginger recipe.

This trademarked cocktail features two parts 2 Gingers (which is aged for four years) ginger ale and lemon and lime wedges – the Skinny Ginger variant uses diet ginger ale.

Accessible ‘everyman personality’ is key

An accessible “everyman personality”​ is one key to the brand’s success, a trait Folliard embodies by actively marketing the product from coast-to-coast using the 2 Gingers trailer.

“Like any Irish pub, this will ring with stories (most of them true) in cities across the country,”​ he says.

That said, Beam Inc.’s purchase of 2 Gingers in late 2012 can’t have hurt its prospects. So how has this boosted distribution, beyond the brand’s 2011 roots in the Minnesota, and does Folliard fear a loss of authenticity within the Beam Inc. portfolio?

“Beam has helped the 2 Gingers brand grow exponentially – from Minnesota in December 2012 (when Beam acquired the brand) to limited Midwest markets in January 2013, to 19 markets in August 2013, and all 50 states this month,”​ Folliard says.

“Throughout the process, Beam has made it a priority to maintain the very same authenticity, passion and down-to-earth values upon which the brand was founded,” ​he adds.

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