The ages-old adage that you should never go into business with your spouse couldn’t be further from the truth for Daniel and Christine Cooney, the co-owners of Heavenly Spirits – a French Spirits import and wholesaler in West Wareham, Massachusetts.
Despite living on different hemispheres for most their lives, Daniel (an American with Irish and Scottish ancestry) and Christine (who is French) met during a trip to Iceland in the 1980s. By 1989, the two had married and settled in San Francisco. In 2008, they founded Heavily Spirits, a name that refers to “the angel’s share” – the portion of the distillation lost to evaporation while aging in oak barrels.
The seed to open a business was planted in the hearts and minds of Daniel and Christine long before 2008, however; the idea reaches as far back as 1987, when Christine moved from the Cognac region of France to San Francisco to work as a Cognac Ambassador.
Over the years their interest in importing and distributing French spirits continued to grow. In 1999, the couple moved to France to restore a family farm in the area Christine grew up. It was then and there that they learned about the major spirit producers in France – including Cognac, Armagnac and Calvados, among others. It was also during this time that they became familiar with smaller, family-owned distilleries across the country.
The company has evolved significantly over the past decade-and-a-half.
“Heavenly Spirits has grown a minimum of 15 percent each year,” says Daniel. “From a small husband-and-wife start-up working out of our back room, we have grown into one of the leading importers of French spirits in the United States. We now distribute in 41 states and employ a dozen people.”
Daniel operates as both co-owner and as Director of Communications and Marketing. Along with overseeing all aspects of the business, he builds the brand for each of the spirit producers the company works with, and for the Heavenly Spirits itself.
Although, admittedly, the job does come with its fair share of trials, Daniel notes that it is nonetheless a labour of love.
“As an importer that specializes in offering exceptional spirits, the challenge is to maintain our high standards while continuing to build our portfolio. Another challenge is maintaining a balance of both time and resources that we invest in each product and line. But I truly love my job, including the people, the products, and the industry as a whole. I love that Christine and I get to work together, representing mostly small to medium-sized, multigenerational, family-owned distilleries who we consider to be true artisans of the industry.”
Heavenly Spirits represents some of the finest Spirits available from Western Europe, including Whisky, Armagnac, Calvados, Cognac, Gin, Rhum Agricole, Vodka, cider, and various liqueurs and aperitifs.
“Forty percent of all Armagnac imported to the USA comes through us,” shares Daniel. “We are also the leading importer of Celtic French whisky, and organic Cognac. We are extremely selective in who we represent as we consider most of our suppliers to be good friends and/or like family. We do not represent what are often referred to as the ‘industrial brands,’ or the giant Goliaths of the spirits world.
“We also consider ourselves to be educators and ambassadors, representing the history, culture, and unique traditions of French spirits.”
Quality and excellent customer service, he notes, are hallmarks of the couple’s business.
“Many of the distributors in the USA who we currently work with originally reached out to Heavenly Spirits after reading about one of the many awards our products have earned. When they find our website and see the amazing line of products we represent, they often ask if they can represent us in their state.”
Heavenly Spirits plans to continue bringing award-winning craft spirits to the North American marketplace, including all the best from the Celtic national of Bretagne, for both 2023 and well into the future.