Founder of whiskey distillery on kick-starting a spirits business in Ireland

Tipperary Boutique Distillery makes homegrown, single malt whiskey in South Tipperary, Ireland

Barley, a common replacement for rice in soups and risotto, is a primal ingredient in whiskey-making. Specifically, malted barley grain is stored in wood barrels and aged to present drinks with smooth, complex flavors.

Over 151 million metric tons of barley was produced between 2022-2023, according to Statista. That is a lot of whiskey.

Whiskey consumption across the globe is expected to increase gradually over the next 4–5 years.

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Jennifer Nickerson is the founder of Tipperary Boutique Distillery located in South Tipperary, Ireland.

Before joining the whiskey industry, Nickerson was a tax adviser – which she was fond of. However, she was aware that if she were not in the office for any reason, someone else would step in to perform her day-to-day responsibilities.

"I wanted to do something that was meaningful," Nickerson told FOX Business. "I wanted to do something that was real."

Jennifer Nickerson

Jennifer Nickerson, founder of Tipperary Boutique Distillery. (Tipperary Boutique Distillery / Fox News)

The founding of Tipperary Boutique Distillery in Ireland

It was not until a visit from her father, who had decades of experience working in the scotch industry, that she considered the whiskey business. He recognized the opportunity in land that was at Nickerson’s fingertips – or rather, toes. Her father pointed out that Ireland is an ideal location for making whiskey because of the rain and climate, much like Scotland.

"I was really lucky because my husband and his family had been farming the same land for generations," Nickerson said. "It’s incredibly good land for crops. In the summer, it’s just fields and fields of gold."

The whiskey made by Tipperary Boutique is made with water and real barley from Nickerson's fields in Ireland.

"We take water from underneath our feet," she said. "We take barely we’ve grown in the fields, add some yeast and that’s really it."

Additionally, though Nickerson appreciates the luxury of traveling, she is hard on reminding herself of those times during the less glamorous days in the world of whiskey.

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"It’s really exciting, but it’s exhausting; tiring," she said. Nickerson wears every hat herself, from sales rep, to marketer, to accountant, and she is a wife and mother to a 2-year-old. "Someone has to pay the electricity bill."

Larger-known Irish whiskey brands like Jameson are widely consumed by spirit drinkers around the globe. However, in June 2023, Bushmills, a triple distilled malt whiskey brand, surpassed 1 million cases in sales for the first time since the company was formed in the late 1700s, according to The Spirits Business website.

While true Irish whiskey is a popular spirit among drinkers, there are not as many distilleries in Ireland, the powerhouse of whiskey, as one might expect. There are slightly over 40 active whiskey distilleries in Ireland, though there are hundreds worldwide.

Recently, Nickerson and Tipperary journeyed through Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Belgium, Paris, Amsterdam and the UK. However, at the end of each day, Nickerson is proud of what she does.

"I do, one hundred percent, believe in what we do. It is an incredibly unique experience. We’re creating something from our own land," Nickerson said. Despite her success as a small business owner, Nickerson has experienced her own barriers in the industry.

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"I was told our bottle looked too feminine," she said. "The guys would go into the shop with the bottle, and they weren’t told the same thing. I repeatedly got told my bottle looked feminine, and I tell that little story because I think women will get told things that are not true."

Her advice for other women starting a business, liquor or not, is to value yourself and charge more.

"They don’t ask for enough," Nickerson said. "You’re worth more than what you’re charging."

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