That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Noelle Hale of Five Farms Irish Cream, One McCormick Lane, Weston, MO 64098. Five Farms is a true farm-to-table product, crafted from single batches of fresh cream combined with premium Irish whiskey within 48 hours of collection to become authentic Irish cream liqueur.
“Five Farms is a joint US-Irish venture between the Holladay Distillery in Weston, Missouri and Irish drinks industry veteran, Johnny Harte, a native of Donegal who is co-founder and partner in the brand
Furthermore, Five Farms Irish Cream is a premium product owned and imported by the Holladay Distillery. In essence, it is the world’s first farm to table Irish cream liqueur.
Our vision is to continue to share our story while educating consumers on our process and what makes Five Farms so unique.
Five Farms is a small batch, farm-to-table product. We combine dairy cream with Irish whiskey within 48 hours of collection, so weekly production depends entirely on demand.
Production takes place at Silver Pail Dairy in Fermoy, County Cork. Five Farms has 15% butterfat content, the highest you can have in a cream liqueur, and contains 10% Irish whiskey, which is ten times the industry average for Irish cream liqueurs.
Five Farms Irish Cream
The Holladay Distillery employs approximately 160 people between the distillery on-site in Weston, Missouri, and the national sales team.
It is difficult to quantify the number of employees who contribute to the process in Ireland because it is not a standalone entity there.
There is involvement from the dairy co-op, the dairy manufacturer that combines the whiskey with the dairy cream, and of course, the farmers themselves.
The historic Holladay Distillery in Weston, Missouri, was founded in 1856 by ‘Stagecoach King’ Ben Holladay on land first charted by Lewis and Clark in 1804 and is the oldest business in the Kansas City area.
The distillery has changed names and ownership several times over the decades. People know it as McCormick Distilling Co. since 1942.
Prior owners of the company decided, back in the 1980s, to stop distilling bourbon on-site.
However, in 2015, we underwent a $10 million renovation of the original stillhouse and started making bourbon again for the first time in three decades, resurrecting the Holladay name in the process.
May 2022 will mark our first bourbon release – Ben Holladay Bourbon, a six-year-old, Bottled-in-Bond, Real Missouri Bourbon.
The company’s premium brands portfolio also includes:
- Five Farms Irish Cream;
- 360 Vodka;
- Broker’s Gin;
- Tequila Rose;
- Hussong’s Tequila.
Our products are distributed in all 50 states and in 78 countries.
Inspiration from Irish grandmothers
At its inception, the idea for Five Farms was to use the cream from a single cow. But that would not be enough cream, nor would a single farm.
That is how we came to the idea of working with five farms, which also gave us the brand’s name.
Traditionally Irish cream was something very personal and special, made by grandma using cream from the family farm and containing almost exclusively Irish whiskey.
We have gone back to making it the way the Irish grandmothers did, using true Irish cream and true Irish whiskey.
Five Farms is perfectly delicious chilled on its own, served on the rocks, in coffee, or mixed in a variety of craft cocktails.
Our partners in Ireland closely monitor the process. There are many moving pieces to the process between the cream collection, blending, and bottling, but our quality control team is experienced and reliable.
We work with five family farms in County Cork that supply the milk we use for Five Farms – the O’Mahonys, the Colemans, the McCarthys, the Tuthills, and LJG Dairy.
The latter is a partnership that originated from a Sexton family farm and for which Laurence Sexton is the principal spokesperson. His partners in this venture are John Hallissey and Guy Scott.
The ‘happy cows’ of County Cork are outside 300 days of the year, grazing in lush pastures and soaking up the sun and the sea air.
These farming families do not just tend to their herds; they care for them with a deep commitment to giving them the best quality of life.
The farms are all certified members of Ireland’s Bord Bia Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS), guaranteeing that the dairy produced on the farms “meets the highest Bord Bia standards, including those for animal welfare, traceability, environmental protection, and food safety”.
Target market, price and availability
Our target market is consumers 21+ who enjoy and appreciate premium craft spirits. Five Farms is versatile and appeals to a wide range of adult taste preferences
Five Farms Irish Cream is available nationwide in the United States and the UK, Ireland, Germany, and Canada.
We encourage customers to visit our ‘where to buy?’ page on our website for more information on retail locations in the US.
The price varies by retailer, but the average retail price is $32.99.
Five Farms Irish Cream Liqueur has been awarded the Chairman’s Trophy at the 2018 Ultimate Spirits Challenge, the premier spirits competition in the world.
The 97 score awarded to Five Farms is the highest that an Irish Cream Liqueur has ever received in this prestigious competition. This signals the arrival of a brand that is poised to elevate the category.
Numerous other accolades have also been awarded for product and package.
There were challenges at the beginning with getting all of the details set up for production.
It was a lengthy process to secure the farmers, find the perfect ratio of whiskey/cream that was more whiskey than what was typically available but did not destroy the sweetness of the cream, devising the operations side of it for collecting the cream, keeping it separate from the other cream collected by the co-op, combining it with whiskey within 48 hours, etc.
Now that it is fully operational, our biggest challenge is just being a relatively small/new player in a category that has a competitor with longevity and name recognition and near-total market domination.
Furthermore, Covid had an impact on our business. There were disruptions in the transportation sector that impacted the distribution channels of import/export businesses.
Bars and restaurants were closed for significant periods. Opportunities for tastings and sponsorships were lost when events such as Irish festivals were cancelled. All of these factors combined had a negative effect on our overall sales numbers.
What does the future hold?
Five Farms is a spectacular product. It is the highest-scoring Irish cream in history and has earned countless accolades for its quality, taste, and package.
We do not intend to release any new flavours or line extensions for this brand because why mess with perfection?
Our plans are to increase consumer awareness and introduce as many people as possible to their new favourite Irish cream.
We hope to see the brand’s continued growth trajectory despite the global challenges of the last few years.
Also, we look forward to continuing to introduce Five Farms to the world and increasing our market share in the category.
We do not intend to develop any new products related to Five Farms. We believe Five Farms Irish Cream is as authentic as it can be.
On the other hand, Holladay Distillery is always working on developing new premium products in various spirit categories.
Our distillery’s long history includes many decades in which it existed as a regional distillery specialising in value spirits.
Over the last two decades, we have been on a journey of shifting towards a more premium brands portfolio, resurrecting the bourbon operation and opening our doors to tourism again to share the amazing history with the public.
The Five Farms experience, in particular, has been very special. We saw a category that has not seen much innovation since the first Irish cream was introduced in the 1970s.
We saw a real opportunity to do it in a completely different way and introduce a product that stood out in every way – taste, quality, whiskey content, and a gorgeous package that is a true standout on the shelf.”
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