Foley Family Wines Appoints Master Distiller of Minden Mill, Launches New Zealand Gin in U.S.

Foley Family Wines (FFW), the Sonoma Valley-based family-owned wine company, has announced two new milestones as the company continues to expand its presence in the spirits market. 

FFW is launching Lighthouse Gin (SRP: $49.99) in the U.S., an 80-proof, citrus-forward, New Zealand gin produced by Rachel Hall, the country’s first female head distiller, and has appointed Joseph O’Sullivan as the master distiller of Minden Mill Distilling in Nevada.

First appearing on the coast of New Zealand’s North Island in 2005, Lighthouse Gin quietly built a reputation as one of the country’s most innovative, non-London Dry gin offerings, particularly for its pronounced use of the famous Yen Ben Lemons, which are known for their strong lemon flavor and high acidity. FFW purchased Lighthouse Gin in 2014 and is launching it in the US as a priority brand in its expanding spirits portfolio.  

Lighthouse Gin enters the market as super-premium offerings fuel Gin category growth with $30+ Gin Brands leading as the fastest growing segment at +11% (750ml).

Named for the famous Cape Palliser Lighthouse, Lighthouse Gin’s new brand identity includes an innovative elegant bottle with painted glass and bold shoulder detail, which represents the Fresnel lens – a layered prism that concentrates light into the beacon in a lighthouse visible from great distances.

Lighthouse Gin is made from high-quality grain combined with pure spring water from New Zealand’s Remutaka Ranges to give the Gin more body, texture, and refined crispness. Nine botanicals, including Yen Ben Lemons, are macerated overnight in a small batch copper pot still to extract the flavors before the first distillation, which is then re-distilled without the botanicals. This double-distillation process creates a smoother gin. 

Hall joined the Lighthouse Gin team in 2010, advancing to the position of Head Distiller the year FFW purchased the brand. “I grew up around spirits culture at an early age when my family moved to New Zealand and purchased the historic Greytown where I helped around the pub – and eventually behind the bar,” Hall noted. “I developed an appreciation for wine and, as I like to call them, ‘well-poured drinks,’ and I am excited to relaunch Lighthouse in the US as part of the growing Foley Family spirits portfolio.”

The Lighthouse Gin relaunch comes on the heels of FFW’s May announcement of its expansion in the spirits business with the purchase of a Minden, Nevada distillery facility that previously produced Bourbon, American Single Malt, and Rye. The new distillery, Minden Mill Distilling, honors the site’s 100-year celebrated heritage in the Minden community, and transformation from a flour mill and creamery to a state-of-the-art distillery dedicated to crafting high-end spirits.

FFW has named Joseph O’Sullivan the Master Distiller, who will relocate to the Minden area, in the heart of Carson Valley near the Nevada-California border. Previously the Master Distiller for Clear Creek Distillery and Hood River Distillers, O’Sullivan started his career in 2005 as the craft spirits industry emerged. He quickly developed a passion for whole fruit fermentation and the spirit that would later be known as American Single Malt. Under O’Sullivan’s leadership, Minden Mill Distilling will produce its own new brands of Bourbon, Rye, American Single Malt, and White Spirits from locally sourced, sustainable grains. These spirits distilled at the site will be available through national wholesale markets and direct-to-consumer channels, including the tasting room.

“I’ve been working in distilleries for nearly two decades, and I’m looking forward to applying my spirits knowledge and experience to Minden Mill,” O’Sullivan commented. “With custom-built production equipment, access to local grains and pure Sierra Nevada water, and a talented team, we will produce some remarkable Nevada spirits.”

The Minden Mill guest experience center will be open to the public for tours and tastings of spirits, wine, and craft cocktails. A grand opening celebration will take place on September 9, 2023, with spirits, wine, live music, food trucks, and local vendors at Minden Mill Distilling, 1601 Water Street, Minden, Nevada. 

“Spirits are increasingly important to our customers, and these are important steps in our strategic plan to launch a full range of global high-end spirits to complement our growing portfolio of luxury wines,” said Shawn Schiffer, FFW President. “New Zealand and Nevada are both special places where Bill Foley has established a presence and a reputation for quality, and we plan to continue the expansion.”

The total spirits category is growing by +6%, driven by domestic and premium segments. FFW is one of the top ten super premium plus suppliers in the wine industry, growing more than three times faster than the total segment.1For more information on Foley Family Spirits, visit

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