Hughes Craft Distillery in Lisburn, has won export business for Northern Ireland's first potato vodka, RubyBlue Craft Irish Potato Vodka, which it launched at the start of this month.
The company, an established market leader in award-winning whole berry and Irish grain spirit liqueurs, has begun supplying the new craft vodka to duty-free outlets at Dublin International Airport.
Other significant business for the new vodka has been placed by Ocado, the UK online retailer, internet business Amazon and Master of Malt, another leading online retailer, according to Stuart Hughes, commercial director of Hughes Craft Distillery, who formed the craft enterprise with wife Barbara in 2010.
Stuart Hughes says: "The listings are the outcome of extensive taste tests and are marvellous endorsements of the quality and, above all, the unique flavours of our range of small batch spirits.
"We have been seeking to strengthen our range and distribution in Britain, Ireland and further afield for some time and saw a gap in the market for a potato vodka. We also saw an opportunity from the developing trend particularly in high-end hotels, cocktail bars and restaurants for craft spirits with provenance and outstanding taste."
The new vodka, the first in Ireland to be distilled from potatoes, is the result of market research and discussions with existing customers of the company's successful super-premium liqueur products. RubyBlue Craft Irish Potato Vodka, is now available in the newly refurbished Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 at Dublin airport.
Barbara Hughes, sales director, comments: “The initial response has been amazing. The first batch pre-sold within a few days of announcing it and now we are working to fulfil orders to some of the best-known on-line retailers, local bars, and restaurants and off licenses.
"We've used our longstanding experience in distilling our very successful range of berry liqueurs to create a distinctive potato vodka. It made sense to us to take potatoes, so long a dietary staple in Ireland, to handcraft small batch vodka that offers super-premium quality with a unique flavour.
"We are leveraging the successful RubyBlue brand from our award winning range of existing spirits to create awareness of the new vodka and drive sales particularly outside Northern Ireland. Our liqueurs are already selling in key markets such as Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East, Turkey and Australia. This provides a network to help in developing the vodka business."
RubyBlue Potato Vodka is 40% ABV (80% proof) and is described by taste experts as having "an appealing nose with subtle notes of vanilla and crisp apple. The taste is buttery and well-rounded with a heartening earthiness and a long clean finish". It's being marketed as being perfect for those who like to enjoy vodka neat but can also be used to create exceptional cocktails.
RubyBlue products are hand-made in small batches to ensure the consumer has the best possible flavour experience. Among other endorsements gained by the small company is an award from the influential Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America for Premium Flavour. The craft spirits are popular to enjoy neat, on ice, or with your favourite mixer to make excellent cocktails.
29 June 2015 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor