Crowd-funded gin is a real tonic
More than 400 people have raised their glass to the launch of Northern Ireland's newest drinks company Copeland Gin.
Saintfield student Gareth Irvine (24) thanked his friends, family and the 400 strangers who supported his business online as he launched his product in two flavours - rhuberry, a concoction of rhubarb and blackberry, and raspberry and mint.
The product combines premium gin with fruit grown in Donaghadee.
"It's amazing to see an idea that only 14 months ago started off as a university project coming to life and being launched today to bars, restaurants and off-licences," Gareth said.
"Copeland's philosophy is based on infusing the best quality produce from Co Down farmers with our own bespoke, premium gin. The botanicals in our base gin have been carefully selected to complement the fruits we use to create our ginfusions. In essence, we use local fruits as additional botanicals.
"Unlike many fruit-infused drinks products, Copeland is a 37.8% proof gin, not a liqueur.
The funding to bring Copeland gin to market was secured online through crowdfunding.
Almost 400 people pledged a total of £30,000 in 43 days in return for bottles of the product, branded glasses and other rewards.
Gareth added: "I couldn't have launched Copeland ginfusions without the financial backing of our crowdfunding founders - their support was overwhelming.
"Over 380 people took a chance on the product based on our unique brand values, the brand story and our links with local farmers and a belief that we could create something new and different."
The company has already secured deals with off-licences in the Co Down area, Neill Wine, WineWorks and Grange Wines.
It's the latest artisan Northern Ireland gin to arrive. Jawbox Gin was launched last year by John Hewitt pub boss Gerry White, while Co Down couple David and Fiona Boyd-Armstrong produce Shortcross Gin.