Foxes Bow makes it a double to supercharge US launch

Fast-growing Irish whiskey brand to take on massive North American whiskey market with second crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube.

A year after raising €514,000 in an oversubscribed crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube, emerging Irish whiskey brand Foxes Bow is about to do it again with a second fundraising campaign to raise at least €375,000 to power its US expansion.

Just months after it emerged the company signed key deals with MHW as its importer in the US and with Green Light Distributors in Texas, the business has revealed that the new campaign will be live to the public at the end of September on Crowdcube. Potential investors can register your interest for early access here.

“We’re all for making whiskey accessible, and we want to do that in every way that we can, including fundraising”

In recent months grocery giant Tesco also agreed to store the whiskey brand in 80 stores across Ireland.

Ambition pours forth

Created by Limerick natives Alice Carroll and Tony Foote, Foxes Bow Whiskey is a blended Irish whiskey aged in Bourbon barrels and finished in Oloroso and Rye casks. The inclusion of rye casks in the whiskey’s finish lends a floral bouquet to the whiskey’s nose, while providing an interesting lingering spice to the palette. Beginning with a burst of fruity sherry flavours, followed by a wave of spice and perfectly finished with a lingering velvety vanilla sweetness.

The brand has set out to be different and co-founder Carroll says the intention is to call time on the archaic rules around whiskey and the assumption that it’s only for men and that it can only be enjoyed in traditional ways.

Listen and read: Podcast Ep 129 – Foxes Bow co-founder Alice Carroll: Toasting the next generation of Irish whiskey

“We hate all the exclusivity around the category and think it should be blown open and enjoyed by anyone that wants to. We’re all for making whiskey accessible, and we want to do that in every way that we can, including fundraising.”

She says it is also time to change traditional routes for investing in whiskey.

“Usually to invest in a whiskey you either need to have a lot of money to invest for an equity buy-in, or else you need to cough up on average €6,000for a cask programme. So there hasn’t been a particularly equal opportunity for people to get involved. So that’s what really attracted us to crowdfunding. It allows for people to get involved for as little as €10/£10.”

Raise a glass to opportunity

In its last crowdfunding campaign Foxes Bow attracted more than 400 investors, raising €625,000 – 125% of the original target.

Crowdcube has highlighted a growing appetite for return raises.

With regards to what this raise will be used for, Foxes Bow co-founder Tony Foote said: “This raise is really to supercharge our US launch, and we are aiming to raise a minimum of €375,000 through the platform. We have an amazing opportunity to launch in Texas with an incredible distributor, and although the opportunity has come probably twelve months earlier than we anticipated, we’re grabbing it with both hands! In order for us to really go at this opportunity we need additional investment to support expanding the US team, along with important sales and marketing support to build the brand in the US.”

The Foxes Bow team has already got some industry heavy-hitters in their corner, with industry veteran Patrick O’Driscoll, former Global CEO of Malibu and Kahlua and Pernod Ricard affiliate Corby Spirit and Wine, as chair and Jeff Agdern, former SVP of New Brand Ventures at Pernod Ricard USA and current Global President at Cincoro (Michael Jordan’s Tequila) as strategic advisor.

“Having access to Jeff and Patrick’s incredible experience and network has been a game-changer for us. But it has also ensured we’re grounded in reality. And one of the things we learned is how hard it is for a new brand to crack the US. It’s what they call a ‘three-tier’ system there meaning you not only need to secure retail listings, but also an importer and a distributor. And with so many brands and a consolidation of distributors reducing the number of options, it puts new brands in a very difficult position.

“So the fact that a powerful distributor like Green Light with such a strong footprint in Texas was attracted to a whiskey like ours speaks volumes for the appetite out there for something different for that new generation of drinkers. We had anticipated in our original plan that it would take 18 months to secure a route to market for the US, so we had planned for a 2024 launch there. The fact that we’re already in market and on shelf as of August 2023 is absolutely mind-blowing to me – and we couldn’t be more excited!”

Irish whiskey is gaining strength

Since its launch in November 2021, Foxes Bow has shown positive momentum. In November, it won GOLD at the Irish Whiskey Awards for best non-age statement blended Irish whiskey. Its first Limited Edition featuring artist Claire Prouvost sold out in under 15 minutes in June of this year.

The business has also secured national listings with several major retailers in Ireland including Tesco and SuperValu.

Foxes Bow has also partnered with Bord Bia to conduct a consumer study that found Foxes Bow Whiskey appealed to 91% of US consumers, showing US consumers have an appetite for this type of product.

The young business is currently exporting to Italy, Germany and Northern Ireland.

Irish whiskey continues to be the world’s fastest-growing spirit with a total increase in sales of 140% over the past decade according to the Irish Whiskey Association. Irish whiskey is already a $4.9bn industry and is projected to grow to be worth $6.9bn by 2027. There were 15.2m 9-litre cases of Irish whiskey sold globally in 2022 according to IWSR as outlined in Drinks Ireland Irish Spirits Report 2022.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) recently reported that 6.1m cases were sold in the US in 2022, corresponding to a 1,154.1% category growth since 2003.

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.