Partnership With IWB-USA, Inc.

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First Light Coffee Whiskey, San Diego’s craft spirits brand, today announced a national partnership agreement with IWB-USA, a leading management services company of alcohol brands in North America. This partnership adds a complementary spirits brand to IWB’s portfolio of highly coveted beverage brands with the goal of expanding nationally and continuing to build the brand’s community.

“We’re stoked to be partnering with the team at IWB-USA and look forward to expanding First Light across the country,” said Ryan Espi, co-founder of First Light Coffee Whiskey.

First Light Coffee Whiskey was founded by cousins, Ryan Espi and David Elizondo in 2020, during late nights and early mornings of work, surfing and exploration together. The idea behind “First Light” represents new days, new adventures and new moments to celebrate life with loved ones. First Light Coffee Whiskey is a sustainably minded, community focused lifestyle brand with a passion to create incredible craft beverages. The brand’s mission is to help customers create memorable experiences by inspiring them to take First Light along with them on adventures, date nights and to celebrate life’s most beautiful moments.


Espi added, “At First Light, we love our San Diego community and the world we live in. Nature and people both have given us so much and it is extremely important to us that our business gives back both to our community and to our planet. This is why we are a 1% For The Planet member and we use recyclable materials, and all natural ingredients in the making of our coffee whiskey products.”

With this in mind, flavor profiles using organic agave syrup and natural coffee extracts are at the forefront of the ingredients used in First Light’s coffee whiskey. It was important to Espi that their flavored whiskey mixed well into classic cocktails, such as Old Fashioneds and Sazeracs. So they spent a year and a half sampling their way through dozens of combinations of whiskies and natural flavors before settling on their flagship coffee whiskey, which is made using a new corn-based distillate — sort of an un-aged bourbon. The results of their experimentation have received top, back-to-back annual platinum ratings in the prestigious SIP Awards, a consumer-judged tasting competition.

“We have a lot of new and exciting things brewing at First Light for the coming year, and we can’t wait to share them with the First Light community,” said Espi.

Earlier this year, First Light Coffee Whiskey added Sean Heal as vice president of sales and marketing. In this role, Sean facilitates the continued brand and community expansion across retail and on premise locations. Sean brings a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise to First Light, having previously co-founded another popular Southern California spirits brand, Locals Only Vodka, and spent more than 10 years in leadership roles with William Grant, Diageo, and Brown Forman.

Led by Nick Gagliardi, IWB-USA’s team is comprised of highly respected beverage professionals from the consumer products and alcohol industries. The IWB team has many years of experience in the alcoholic beverage industry and has helped launch and scale some of the most well-known household brands in the world today. Through their strong wholesaler and retailer networks, IWB has developed partnerships with more than 350 distributors throughout the United States.

Nick Gagliardi founded IWB with the goal of fostering a small portfolio of highly coveted alcohol brands across the beverage industry that can scale nationally. “We get approached by a lot of alcohol brands but when we met Ryan and Sean with First Light, we were simply blown away with all aspects of the brand. From the unique distillation process to giving back to the planet, First Light Coffee Whiskey is a spirit and company with values that closely align with IWB-USA’s,” said Gagliardi.

About First Light Coffee Whiskey

First Light Coffee Whiskey is an emerging San Diego-based craft spirits company, produced and bottled at Pacific Coast Spirits, an award-winning grain-to-glass distillery. First Light was founded by cousins, Ryan Espi and David Elizondo in 2020, and the “First Light” idea was born during their late nights and early mornings of work, surfing and exploration together. First Light’s flagship coffee flavored whiskey has become an immediate hit and has already won back-to-back Platinum and Consumers Choice awards at the 2021 and 2022 and 2023 Sip Awards international spirits tasting competition. First Light’s coffee flavored whiskey is 66 proof and is blended with 99% American corn whiskey, real coffee extract and organic blue agave. For more information, visit

About IWB-USA, Inc.

IWB-USA, Inc. headquartered in Carlsbad, California and is a National Brand Management company, with focus on accelerating the growth of selected brands in the Adult Beverages industry. IWB-USA’s  commitment to Wholesalers, National, Key Accounts, Independent Accounts and On-Premise Retailers provides connectivity between the consumer and the right accounts to optimize brand building process. IWB-USA leverages their wholesaler relationships to prioritize execution focused on our brands’ strategies and goals. IWB-USA carefully selects the brands they partner and represent. IWB-USA aims to be an active equity stakeholder with all our brand partners. For more information on IWB-USA, please visit and if you have any questions, please contact us at

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