On Monday we slipped into February and into our second year in business with exactly no ceremony. I think I did our monthly Revenue stock take. At the time I didn’t know it, but it was a silent breath of a day before a totally breathless week.

By Tuesday with the floor swept, it was time to prepare our pitch for the Irish Times/AIB Start-up Academy. We were down to the last 20, at stake a 50:50 chance of joining the Academy for an 8 week intensive training programme that thankfully doesn’t involve circuit training. Oh, and the small matter of a top prize worth €250,000. Just as the pencil was sharpened and the coffee was ground, the orders for gin started to pour in. Then came the deliveries; a new bottle washer, tonic water, boxes … I fled home, ground another pencil, sharpened more coffee and spent the rest of the day pacing up and down talking to myself, trying not to get distracted.

But then there was the shoot – two shoots to be exact – in Belfast Fergus was getting stuck into a new portfolio of brand photography, while Barry was setting up next weeks filming at the distillery. We’re about to raise €300,000 through EIIS tax breaks, we need a video… better check how many views our tease pitch has clocked up.

Meantime in Waterford Jill was tweaking our labels for the US market. In New Delhi the bottle of gin that has been sitting in customs for a week had started to accrue charges. We got confirmation we had a place at the world’s most awesome gin festival,  Junipalooza in London. Where the hell is that orris root I ordered? No we don’t want to sponsor your country music festival. How come you can’t unsubscribe from Alibaba emails?

Hang on! Don’t I have a meeting in some SuperValu somewhere?


Ready for Dublin
Ready for Dublin

I drove to Dublin pitching to myself. This is becoming a habit, not helped by a broken car radio, the engine putt, putt, putting and the wipers scraping over and back, over and back.

Thursday morning, 11:39. In a meeting at the Westbury Hotel… hang on. Was I supposed to be at the Irish Times building at 11:40 or 1:40? What? No 3G?

In the middle of Dublin? No 3G?

Stand on one leg, lean out of window.

I am changing carriers!

Phew! 1:40. Hare Krishna’s for a light lunch.

How much food are they putting on that plate?

Walk to College Green. Walk back to car. Pick up bottles. Walk back to College Green.


Talk to Drop Chef, he’s up before me. Nice guy. Great concept.

Must drink more water.

Go upstairs. Meet everyone.

Too much water. Must pee.

Next door Drop chef is on. They applaud. He’s either been brilliant or he’s brought his own clap track.

I am next.

I climb out from behind the sofa.


Friday morning. 10:42. I am sitting in our auditors office finalising our EIIS prospectus, looking at our accounts and wondering how the hell we spend so much on paperclips. My phone rings.

Dublin number.

I slip outside into the wet embrace of the kind of horizontal rain you only ever get in Fermoy. Or sometimes Bandon.

‘Congratulations!’ she says, you did it. We’re through to the final 10.

SLOW MO: Punches air!


Last year's winner Fabien talking to some of us. I'm hiding behind the sofa.
Last year’s winner Fabien talking to some of us. I’m hiding behind the sofa.