A new brand of alcohol – Muff Liquor – is launching in Donegal next month with a fun and cheeky identity, but instilled within it is a story of hard work and craftsmanship from a well-known Donegal farmer.
Greencastle native Laura Bonner moved back to Donegal in 2017 to co-found The Muff Liquor Company with her business partner Tom Russell from Manchester.
The first product of the company is a Muff Irish Potato Craft Gin that’s set to launch on February 3rd. The name of the gin might raise a few eyebrows around the world, but in an interview with DonegalWoman.ie, Laura said she was confident that the taste will speak louder than the title:
Laura said: “The name is something I thought of while back and I think it perfectly represents the fun and cheeky identity we want to establish with the company. I have a feeling the name is going to stand out amongst the other brands on the shelf behind the bar!”
Laura’s grandfather Philip McClenaghan was a well-known Inishowen potato farmer in Greencastle who, she says ‘could literally turn his hand to anything’.
“One of his many hobbies was to make a potato based poitín so the idea of making a unique based spirit just stuck with me,” Laura said.
Laura has previously worked in London and Dublin in property, PR and sales before moving home to pursue her business dream of creating craft liquor.
She said couldn’t be prouder to have her grandfather’s image as a representation of the ideas and values of the company:
“Behind this fun and cheeky exterior, there are the core ideas of hard work, respect for tradition and making something born of the land and crafted by hand.
“These were ideas Granda McClenaghan passed down through my family and it’s something I want to make sure is at the centre of everything we do,” she said.
Just like Granda McClenaghan’s brews, the Muff Gin is made from potatoes, which Laura says gives it a smooth texture.
Mandarin, lemon, rosemary and elderflower and one secret ingredient add fresh and vibrant flavour with sweet notes to the drink, which will be best served with straight-up tonic or elderflower tonic.
Gin has had a number of years reigning as the favourite spirit of many, but Laura believes the best is yet to come.
“I don’t think gin has really hit its peak yet. I think people still love trying new flavours and exploring new tastes,” she said.
Muff Gin is entering the market at the height of its popularity, while the company directors hope to bring vodka back with the launch of a premium potato-based vodka in the coming months.
Tom and Laura are concentrating on launching the gin in the Asian and Middle East market this year before establishing the brand in the USA, Asia, Australia, and Europe.
The gin is currently being distilled in Co. Offaly at the home of Mór Gin, although Laura and Tom are planning to build their own distillery in Inishowen soon. The dream is to have a distillery, head office and visitor centre in Donegal which will hire local people and employ local farmers to source ingredients.
“A connection to the local area is very important to me and while my ambition is to be an international brand, the local community of Muff and Inishowen will be at the heart of it,” Laura said
We’ll be seeing Muff Gin in pubs, cocktail bars and high-end restaurants at home and internationally after it launches on February 3rd.
For those who can’t wait to try it, Laura assures us the gin will be readily available in Inishowen – where the soul of the company resides.