W.D. O'Connell Whiskey Merchants

Entrepreneur: Daithi O'Connell

Local Enterprise Office Supports: Priming, Trading Online Voucher, Business Continuity Voucher, Mentoring

Website: www.wdoconnell.com/

W.D. O'Connell Whiskey Merchants are an independent whiskey company.

“Essentially we source new make spirit and already aged whiskies from multiple distilleries in Ireland & abroad and apply our own maturation and finish preferences,” said founder Daithí O’Connell. “We source our own casks and mature and bottle the finished whiskies when they are ready.”

“I had been in the food and beverage business and started looking at setting up my own distillery a few years ago. But I pulled out for multiple reasons, not least the fact that it was a huge financial investment.”

“I put the idea on the back burner but kept an eye on the industry. When I moved home from Dubai in 2017, I saw that the whiskey landscape here had changed significantly. Being an independent bottler would not have been an option a few years ago but with upwards of 40 distilleries in Ireland nowadays, it makes more sense.”

O’Connell threw himself completely into becoming an independent whiskey bottler. “Bottlers are something of a rarity in Ireland – much of this had to do with the scarcity of distilleries. Bottlers need a diverse range – not just of whiskey styles and casks, but of sources so this is why we look further than Ireland for our whiskeys at the moment.”

Daithi O Connell O Connell Whiskey

“Our products are currently available in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and are going on sale in South Africa and California , Florida and New York this month. We are looking at the Nordics and Australia for next year.”

O’Connell said that they have a good network of independent whiskey shops in Ireland. “Our products are not aimed at the supermarket style off licence, more specialist stores and independents..”

“LEO has been super in Waterford. The support has been great. We have also received the trading online voucher when Covid struck – that was used for improvements to our online ecommerce platform that allowed us to improve our offering. This was very important. We also got another business priming grant as well, this supported wages for employees and  for capital investment.”

“Waterford is a brilliant place to do business and the quality of life is very good here. You can’t just drop into most meetings in our business as it's very export focused so it suits us being here with good transport access, a local airport would be fantastic if anyone is listening. Right now, we are installing our own maturation house, bottling line and blending facility and about to bring everything in house along the Waterford Greenway. It’s an excellent location we have picked in Kilmacthomas at the old Union Workhouse. This means that there is potential for tourism at the site in the future.”