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Cork Independent

Business & Professional

Cheers to West Cork Distillers!

Wednesday, 18th November, 2020 5:36pm

It’s a global business but it was set up by three lifelong friends in West Cork. Now West Cork Distillers have won one of the most prestigious business awards in Ireland.

John O’Connell of West Cork Distillers was recently named the EY Industry Entrepreneur Of The Year for 2020.

The annual awards ceremony was held virtually and attended by an audience of more than 2,000 people, including prominent business and political leaders. Collectively the 24 finalists of this year’s programme employ more than 5,000 people and have revenues in excess of €400 million.

West Cork Distillers is one of the largest wholly Irish owned distilleries in Ireland with a distillation capacity of four million litres of pure alcohol. With distributors across the globe, its award-winning West Cork Irish Whiskey and Garnish Island Gin are now being sold in almost 70 countries, and they boast their own commercial staff in the USA, UK, Russia, Latin American and Caribbean regions.

West Cork Distillers was founded in 2008 by three lifelong friends Denis McCarthy, Ger McCarthy and John O’Connell in Union Hall in 2008.

West Cork Distillers also contract manufactures Irish whiskey for global spirits companies that require an Irish whiskey in their portfolio without investing in a physical distillery. In fact, West Cork Distillers contract manufactures Irish whiskey for some of the largest retailers in the world and market and sells bulk alcoholic ingredients for spirits producers.

In addition, West Cork Distillers also has an Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) approved co-operative foundation whereby locals from West Cork, and beyond can purchase Irish whiskey for investment purposes.

The business has bursaries with the local schools in Skibbereen for the most improved science students for a given school calendar.

Matt Cooper of Inflazome was named EY Emerging Entrepreneur Of The Year 2020, while Nicola Mitchell of Life Scientific was named the International and overall winner of the 2020 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Roger Wallace, Partner Lead for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Ireland added: “This year’s programme had 24 phenomenal finalists, who have continued to thrive in spite of what this year has thrown at them. We hope that their stories and achievements are an inspiration to existing businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the island of Ireland.”

“On behalf of EY, I’d like to extend our congratulations to each of our three winners. They are unstoppable leaders with integrity, purpose and agility, who each lead exceptional businesses. They are innovators who exemplify the characteristics that drive positive change in business and in society, and we’re privileged to have them in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year community,” Wallace added.

When determining the winners, the judges evaluate a number of criteria, including: innovation; value creation; strategic direction; financial performance; national and global impact; and the entrepreneur’s contribution to society and industry.

Each year EY presents a Special Award to individuals who have made a significant contribution to life on the island of Ireland through their vision, innovation and commitment to excellence. This year the honour was awarded to the frontline staff of both the Health Service Executive and An Garda Síochána whose selfless commitment and contribution helped protect vulnerable members of Irish society during the pandemic. The 2021 programme will be open for nominations from January 2021. For more visit

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