Donegal woman Laura Bonner is at the helm of a unique new gin entering the alcohol market next month - Muff Craft Gin.
This Irish Potato gin is the debut product from The Muff Liquor Company, co-founded by Inishowen entrepreneur Laura Bonner and her business partner Tom Russell from Manchester.
Muff Gin hasn’t yet been released, but it already has built up a lot of character and has a fascinating backstory, which Laura shared this week with Donegal Woman.
First things first, we had to address the name. While Donegal people are used to hearing about Muff village, the name and its connotations are already raising eyebrows across social media. Laura is confident that this will all change after we get a taste of the Muff Gin:
“We know it’s catchy, we are hoping people will remember it for the taste rather than the name,” she 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!”
Greencastle native Laura is clearly proud of her heritage and has moved back to Donegal after many years in London to pursue this new venture.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do for a really long time,” she adds.
Property is Laura’s main business background, while she has a degree in Law and years of experience in PR and Sales. Promoting the Donegal-centric brand shouldn’t be any challenge for the experienced businesswoman and her business partner Tom, who is based in Dubai.
The inspiration for creating quality handcrafted liquor came from Laura’s grandfather, Philip McClenaghan. He was a well-known Donegal potato farmer and poitin maker, and his legacy is being celebrated locally ever since word got out about the new company. In fact, an illustration of Laura’s granddad adorns the back of each bottle.
“Granda lived to be over 100 years old, and I have been getting lovely tributes from people who remembered him and his poitin,” Laura said.
The gin may have a fun and cheeky exterior, but behind it are Granda McClenaghan’s core ideas of hard work, respect for tradition and making something born of the land and crafted by hand.
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.