The eternally-cheerful Kieran Folliard had a bad dream earlier this week. In it, the former pub magnate launched his new endeavor -- his very own Irish whiskey -- with terrible results.
"We didn't sell one bottle!" Folliard said Wednesday.
Knowing the Irishman's Midas touch, he's bound to sell a few more than that. About 12,000 bottles of his 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey are expected to hit Twin Cities liquor stores within days. Folliard will visit several stores starting Thursday for bottle signings (check the 2 Gingers website for details). A statewide rollout, including bars, happens in mid-January.
Folliard, if you'll remember, sold his four Irish pubs in July in order to go into the whiskey business full-time. Liquor laws prevent the ownership of both a liquor sales company and a retail outlet (such as a bar or store).
The move was a shock to many in the industry. Folliard had found great success as the owner of Kieran's, Cooper, the Local and the Liffey. But after selling 2 Gingers solely at his pubs, he soon had a desire to push the Irish whiskey into the full market place. The whiskey is named after the Big Ginger, a drink (whiskey mixed with ginger ale) Folliard popularized at this pubs. Two redheads adorn the bottle's label.
Folliard's whiskey is made by Cooley, the last independent distillery in Ireland (and recently named European Spirits Producer of the Year for the fourth year in a row at the International Wine and Spirit Competition). The latest batch, dubbed the Founders Edition, was shipped here for bottling in Princeton, Minn.
On Wednesday, Folliard traveled to the small city to help oversee the final details. With this weekend's deadline looming, there were some last-minute hiccups -- including labels that wouldn't stick.
"Luck of the Irish, my arse," a frazzled Folliard said.
Surrounded by whiskey bottles, he still had time to reflect on his new adventure.
"I feel like Willy Wonka," he said. "I do like a wee bit of chocolate, but this is even better."
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