The Term Irish Whiskey Bonder Must Be Protected Before It Becomes Meaningless #IrishWhiskey

I am currently in discussions with three different entrepreneurs who are hoping to become Whiskey Bonders.  They heard of my story and reached out to me to talk about the practice. I share what insight and knowledge I can with them and we talk every few weeks or months about how they are getting on. All of these entrepreneurs  have plans for Bonded warehouses that they are either constructing or converting. They are working through the issues of securing a bond and all the Mad Stuff that you need to do to become a Modern Whiskey Bonder here in Ireland. It’s a really long road and one that can drive you to distraction. I am really happy that we will soon have more Bonders on this Island, I’ve always said that we would not be the last and I will soon be proven right. Furthermore the company name Dublin Whiskey Bonders has recently been registered so we can conclude this is a bit of a serious  trend.

We are Ireland’s First Modern Whiskey Bonder in living memory, what exactly does that mean though? Well, first off the bat it is NOT simply a marketing term, if it was I would just have rented space in a bonded warehouse and called myself a Bonder and used it exclusively as a marketing hook.  That would have been way easier and cheaper. No, Bonding is key part of the very bones and heritage of the Irish Whiskey Industry. When I decided to bring it back I genuinely felt a responsibility on my shoulders to ensure it would mean something to our industry which is in an unprecedented resurgence. It is a clever business model and yes it does make a good and unique selling point. However for me, it is all about being open and honest about sourcing whiskey and dedicating myself to the care and production of that sourced whiskey to create something the Irish Whiskey Industry can be proud to call its own. Further more I am of the firm belief that we need varied and diverse maturation and production locations to foster a sense of regionalism that is so vital to Scotch and that has been all but lost here in Ireland.

Back in March I went through the Airport and picked up some printed information on a brand  who make pretty good whiskey but had been called out in the industry for citing work by a Master Blender and a Master Distiller whose existence or qualifications were questioned.   I was really dismayed to see that the brand had now pivoted to Bonding as their new backstory. They are now claiming the heritage of Bonding and the story that I brought to the world out of the dark as a core part of their brand essence. To the best of my knowledge the brand did not mention it until AFTER they were vilified fairly publicly about false labeling. Annoying for me? Yes but is to be expected, of course, Imitation is the highest form of flattery, it means you are on to something. What really riled me though about what I saw written down is that it seemed like for that brand “Bonding”  was easy pickings. Bonding, because it did not exist for a few generations has no definition or legal protection and I think we need protection. So, I wrote a letter to the powers that be back in March asking for assistance. Below is the basic content and definition of Bonding that I would like to have properly defined, this is paraphrased directly from the letter sent back in March.

My business model as you know is that of Whiskey Bonding. This is landing well in the USA, UK, Germany and other markets we are opening. American Bonded whiskey has a specific protected definition and is a growing trend in the US. Currently in Ireland there is no protection or definition of quality around the term Irish Whiskey Bonder. To that end there are independent bottlers  who are claiming to be Bonders although they do not possess a Bond.
This is the equivalent of claiming to be a distillery without a distillery. 
Our business model and definition of Bonding stands for the following.
  • We are a Revenue Verified Irish Whiskey Maturation Facility
  • We do NOT distill our own spirit
  • We source casks with particular flavour profiles 
  • We source spirit from distilleries 
  • We match cask to spirit
  • We mature it in our own controlled bonded warehouse and oversee the maturation process
  • We blend it and bottle it on site 
  • In the case of mature whiskey releases we source WE SOURCE LIVING CASKS NOT BULK INERT WHISKEY and we blend and bottle on site 
In essence in terms of quality we Shepard the spirit in every aspect from the moment it comes off the still until it is bottled. In the case of mature whiskey we source living casks not bulk whiskey for bottling.
I am currently in discussions with THREE other businesses who are in the process of setting up Bonding Businesses (with their own bond) . This sub category of whiskey is going to grow and we need to protect it. As you will know it was once the most common business model for whiskey in Ireland until the 1930’s we can expect it to grow again. 
I would like to see protection and definition for the term BONDED IRISH WHISKEY in the technical file. If we don’t protect this sub category which is going to grow significantly  the term will be meaningless and abused. ” END 
Now many of you will know I myself am not yet doing all the things I list above, my blending and bottling line is not yet finished for example. But I am working towards all of these things, I expect it to be ready in Q4. Why? Because all of these various elements are a mark of QUALITY CONTROL outside of distillation. I do not distil my own spirit so I better be damn sure that from the moment it comes off the still until its put into bottle that its well looked after and I have influence on it, otherwise why bother? I can just become an Independent Bottler which is TOTALLY FINE. Some of the whiskies I admire most are from Independent Bottlers in Scotland. Here is the difference though. Irish Whiskey Bonding is a part of our heritage. It is as unique as Single Pot Still and for Irish Whiskey to compete properly in the global market we need sub categories that are well defined and stand for QUALITY and uniqueness not just marketing Bumpf.

This where I stand on this subject, if I rail a little on social media about it as I have in recent days, its because I know the struggles those other entrepreneurs are going through to set up their businesses, I know that in spite of the sleepless nights the nail-biting and the fact that I put my house and my horse up as collateral for my bond I would put it all on the line as I do every day and do it all again.

Because I brought Irish Whiskey Bonding back, I opened a door that I hope will bring our category to a wider audience and that will help make the marketplace more diverse and modern an appealing to new whiskey drinkers. I’m holding that door open for other Bonders who are willing to make the effort and hold themselves to a quality and production standard.

For anyone simply using the term as their heritage pillar in their marketing materials; the door is firmly closed.

Is Brexit & The Looming Whiskey War Actually a Strategic Advantage for Irish Whiskey? #TradeWar Blogpost

I’ve had a few calls this week from various media outlets in relation to the possible fallout from the looming USA/EU trade war. President Trump announced late last week he would slap tariffs on EU Steel and the like. The EU had been readying themselves for this and are finalising their own Volley of tarrifs right back at him. American Whiskey is high on the list of products the EU intend to tariff to the tune of approx 25% I understand. There is a fear that the USA will counter volley and slap tarrifs on EU Whiskey of course the biggest exposure here is Scotch & Irish Whiskey.

I read with dismay Alarmist headlines stating that this would “destroy” the industry. That is super unhelpful for Indie brands like mine. We are in a constant state of either fundraising or belief raising in our businesses. Having extreme negative language thrown around about our industry is unhelpful and makes it a lot harder to do both of those things for a burgeoning business. Don’t get me wrong I am very concerned about tariffs and I am planning accordingly to mitigate my exposure and risk, that is what one does in business. Panic mongering may draw attention to the issue but it will not instil confidence in the category or those considering investing in it, and as an Indie producer I CARE about what those people think……

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Trump Vodka No Longer Exists so is Exempt….

Whilst Geopolitical circumstance decimated the Irish Whiskey industry once before, it was a conflagration of War, Famine, More War, Prohibition, Economic War and a lack of innovation COMBINED  over about 50 years which destroyed the industry the first time around. Whiskey is a very, very long game, President Trump has a maximum of 6 years left in office..

I have another take on the current volatile geopolitical situation  I believe that, this time, we are on the right side of history.  Are you ready for a curve ball?

Our corporate overlords in the Scotch Whiskey Association have had it pretty sweet for a long time. By and large you can argue that they have done more good than harm in Scotch, they protect it like MaMa Bears for sure and they have made life a lot easier legislatively for Scotch producers than it is for Irish producers in-country. However your stance on that may be very different if you are a new Scotland based whiskey producer trying to innovate and release interesting whiskies in good faith. Even Diageo got the smackdown over suggesting Tequila barrel maturation recently. The reason I have to change my label to reveal LESS information about the components in my blend is because of an EU regulation the SWA defend like a pack of wild dogs. By telling you everything in my blend and its exact percentages I can be taken to court for MISLEADING the consumer thanks to EU  regulation 110/2008 that the SWA hold so dear, I am only allowed to tell you the youngest component….Go figure.

This reign of terror/benevolence however you’d like to categorise it is however about to end. Why? Well, after March of next year technically Scotland is not in Europe anymore and technically the SWA looses its seat at the lobbying table in the Hague. The SWA currently sits in the biggest baddest chair right now when it comes to spirits lobbying within the EU. Once Brexit happens they will be cut loose. This will leave a big whiskey shaped hole at the Lobbying table……Enter Ireland.

Now pile on top of that the fact that we have a trade war brewing and the next few years is going to be an “In the Thick of It” or “Veep” style scenario in the Hague between spirits lobbying bodies and MEP’s. The stakes have just gotten higher and EU lobbying intensity is about to kick into high gear and it is Ireland who will need to pick up the mantle and lead the European spirits industry though all of this as the SWA are buggering off in March.

Suddenly we have more control over our own destiny in many ways than we have ever had before. We could if we REALLY wanted to convince the EU to amend regulation 110/2008 to allow producers like me to fully list our blend components totally transparently. Already our Irish regs are a smidgin more progressive than that of Scotland we could if we wanted to lead whiskey into a bright new innovative and progressive future where its going anyway due to consumer demand. This time around it looks like its Scotch is the industry rejecting innovation and Ireland embracing it, a bit.

Now coincidentally the membership make-up of the SWA in terms of multinationals  is basically identical to that of the IWA.  So whilst the most influential spirits body at the EU level is about to change, its membership make-up and their agendas will stay the same. I’d like to think though that because the organisation is fresher & younger (I’m in it for a start!) that the status quo won’t be maintained. We have a real opportunity here to have a voice and to agitate for positive change in our category and to make life a bit easier for the upcoming Indie players who ultimately will shape the future of the  industry and keep it exciting for whiskey lovers.

tenorWith great power comes great responsibility, as Ru Paul would say “Just Don’t F@ck it Up.”

 

 

 

Postcards From the Edge

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This is how you buy Weed in LA!, Pretty Nice

I’m in the U.S.A. on a business trip for a few weeks. We just launched J.J. Corry in New York with our partner distributor. I’m on the road with Blaise our sales & marketing manager which is great as we usually only see each other over Skype. After our NY launch we hopped on a plane and headed West to Los Angeles. Not a city I have spent much time in before. We rented an Airbnb in Downtown L.A. not a million miles from Skid Row. The Downtown area is clearly in the throes of gentrification and has that in-between feel to it. Homeless people shelter at night in the doorways of newly opened luxury stores and former theatre spaces are being converted to high end Loft residences.

As Blaise and I fiddled with the door code on our AirBNB we noticed what appeared to be an Apple store next door. It looked from the outside like a really slick retail experience with young people bent over ipads scrolling through products. On close inspection it turned out to be a branch of MedMen, a bunch of I imagine very wealthy marijuana entrepreneurs who have elevated buying Weed to a luxury retail experience. California of course has legalised marijuana for “medical” use. You can pop in to any of the MedMen stores and with the very professional help of some lovely staff purchase THC in liquid form, vape form, chocolate form, luxury truffle form, you name it, they even have a pet section with doggy doses for various canine gut ailments etc. Quite extraordinary and soon to be replicated in many states across the U.S.A.

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The Future of Meat Eating

We went for something to eat and passed by an Impossible Burger restaurant. Those of us in Europe have not really been exposed to this concept yet. I understand Leonardo Di Caprio is an investor in the company. The start-up is being touted as a major solution to some key problems facing humankind.  The Impossible burger is derived from plant protein, but it looks, feels and tastes like beef. We both tried it and I can tell you it was at least for me a bit of an emotional experience. There are already too many meat eaters on the planet and not enough cattle to feed them. The cattle that do exist increasingly have brutish and short lives played out on vast indoor feed lots. As the human population grows animal welfare declines. The Impossible burger is   to this issue. It tastes fantastic and I would choose it over a regular burger any time. As a planet we need to eat less meat and the Impossible Burger is the first food I have ever experienced that could viably replace it. It is certainly preferable than Lab grown beef which I find kind of icky.

After a series of meetings with some pretty spectacular women in the Whiskey Industry in LA we hopped a quick flight to Las Vegas for the Wine & Spirits Wholesale Association Conference  (WSWA) at Caesars Palace. WSWA is not a trade show for the faint of heart. It is an expensive proposition even with Bord Bia support and It takes serious preparation and pre-work to ensure it is a worthwhile endeavour. We had some great exposure last year thanks to our Brand Battle success and this year we were fortunate enough to follow that up. We did quite a few interviews and had a lot of interest in our brand and for us it was a great show. Our U.S. strategy is really coming to life now and its very exciting,

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WhiskeyAGoGirl! 

It might sound like wonderful fun to go to Las Vegas for a conference, I can assure you it is interesting yes but it is the antithesis of a holiday. These kind of things are exhausting, its back to back meetings and networking in the very professional and formal environment that is the American drinks industry. Daylight becomes a distant memory inside a windowless conference centre and you are on your feet all day talking shop, the goal is not to have a good time but to be as productive as possible and take advantage of the fact that many heavy hitters in the distribution game are in one place for a brief period. For a brand like ours just kicking on it is well worthwhile. The non-JJ Corry business highlight for me was the keynote speech by none other than Madeline Albright. A great hero of mine and one who famously delivered my favourite quote of all time “ There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women. “  Never a truer word spoken.

Madeline emigrated to the USA from war torn Europe at the age of 11. She did so at a time when the USA was a more welcoming place for immigrants than it is at this moment, perhaps and she rose in stature to one of the highest offices in American politics that of Secretary of State. She was the first woman to hold the position, and paved the way for both Condaleeza Rice and Hilary Clinton to do so after her.

There was a time I could not stay away from Las Vegas, but I’m not the biggest fan anymore, I’m not a gambler and as the conference days are long  and you need to be ON all the time, I made a pact to myself to be in bed by 10.30PM every night and stuck to it like glue for the most part.  We did hit https://oakandivy.com/ one of Vegas’ best cocktail bars which was excellent. Whilst there we met the guys from WhistlePig and had a good chat, they were pretty prominently featured at the show. These guys have had a pretty metoric rise and  Other than that I left the market research to Blaise on this trip.

Interestingly at the Bord Bia stand this year there were more new Irish Gin companies than whiskey by my count.  Gin is popular in the U.S.A. but not dominant in the market as a category as it is in Europe. However, it is still Irish Whiskey that distributors get very excited about. It was great nice to hang with the Irish spirit producer gang and to share war stories We had a good show, it was our second time there and we had some good visibility in a large part due to our success the year before at Brand Battle.

Here is an interview I did during the show, Next up is our NY media Launch.

Irish Whiskey Tourism: A Reality Check

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We need this kind of thing.

There is absolutely no doubt that Irish Whiskey Tourism is on the Up and that is a wonderful thing for all of us.  In my mind the ideal situation we will have on this Island in about a decade is a tourism system that emulates Scotland or Kentucky. Both have scenic winding Whiskey Trails, which snake all over the lovely state of Kentucky and Up hill and down dale and over ferrys in Scotland. The reality is though that we don’t have that right now. We have a concentration of tourism sitting with a few large scale attractions or concentrated in Dublin.

Let’s just look at the stats for a moment. A Note here: the distillery specific stats I have quoted are the most recent on public record and taken from a Drinks Industry Group of Ireland Report published in Sept. 2017. Therefore some of the below stats are 2016 and not bang on date. This is then an illustrative exercise rather than a literary one. I am open to corrections on the below numbers for 2017 but I imagine they will be upward revisions rather than down. For the purposes of this post I am assuming 2016 visitor stats stayed flat rather than speculating.

The Stats

  1. Total Irish Whiskey Tourism visitors in 2017-—814000
  2. Total Visitors to Bow Street Experience Dublin 2017—350000
  3. Total Visitors to Jameson Distillery Midelton —150000

Ok that means about 61% of all Irish Whiskey Tourist visits are to Jameson. I’m not saying that is a negative thing, both of those experiences are wonderful representations of Irish Whiskey there is no doubt about that. Pernod have done a great job, they are good at experiential. They are of course though not the full picture of Irish Whiskey today., nor are they supposed to be, they are brand led experiences through the Pernod Ricard lens.

That leaves 314,000 whiskey tourists outside of Jameson visits. Lets look at how they are spread.

  • Teeling Dublin 100,000 (2016 )
  • Irish Whiskey Museum Dublin 56,000 (2016)
  • No stats available for Pearse Lyons so not included here

OK, that means then 80% of the 814,000 Irish Whiskey Tourists visited an attraction either run by Jameson, which has powerhouse draw, or one in Dublin our capital city,

The other big powerhouses Beam Suntory & Grants can’t get close to Dublin numbers or compete with the lure & global recognition of Jameson.

68,000 visitor to Kilbeggan (2016)

37,000 visitors to Tullamore Dew  (2016)

That leaves 53,000 tourists left for everyone else. The other tourism offerings that I know of right now are spread around the country and total Four, that would leave an even distribution  of visitors of  13,250 each let’s say. With an average spend per visitor of 20 euros that is about 265,000 in revenue per annum, minus overhead, minus marketing spend, minus running costs, licenses, fees etc. it is a tight business.

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This Sort of Thing Please

I can only speculate that as Whiskey Tourism Grows to the predicted 1.9 million per annum, so will the Jameson Bow Street visitor figures. I can further speculate that once Diageo open Roe & Co. beside The Guinness Store house (WHICH 50% OF DUBLIN TOURISTS VISIT!!!) concentration of whiskey tourism in Dublin will also grow. Remember too DWC and Pearse Lyons are coming into their own, so Dublin tourists will be spoilt for choice but Diageo & Pernod will ultimately dominate that market.  No doubt Brown Forman will kick into high gear this year with the irresistable attraction at Slane which is within striking distance of Dublin so we’ll some numbers spread there, but only due to some serious marketing spend and advertising.

Any rural distillery off the beaten path will tick along but could really do with help to maximise this opportunity. As tourism numbers grow so do distillery offerings if the current uneven spread of tourism continues there simply won’t be enough tourists to go around to make tourism truly viable for a multitude of rural distilleries.

It is clear and has been for some time that in order to truly strategically approach the long game that is Irish Whiskey Tourism we need a joined up approach. The IWA has laid out a great whiskey tourism strategy for the Island. It is a great read and is basically bang on. The problem is though that we don’t really have the might of Failte Ireland behind said strategy and that is absolutely vital to its success. There is no mention of an Irish Whiskey Tourism Trail on the Faite Ireland website at all just a disparate number of whiskey related events.

Let’s compare that to the equivalent body across the water ‘Visit Scotland’s approach. For quite a while now The Scotch Whiskey Trail has been a core offering and program for them. Its internalised studied and reported on and owned by that particular state body. They champion its success and publicise it globally. As a result Scotland is a global destination for Whiskey Tourism. 1.7 Million visitors to 40 distilleries in 2017 according to the most recent figures. Those 1.7 million visitors are not concentrated in cities they are spread around the country, they are all basically rural. I can say from experience that Scotland’s distilleries are even more remote and far flung than our own, yet 1.7 Million people toured them in 2017. People are more than willing to leave the city and hit the road to visit far flung distilleries, they just need to be made aware its possible and some infrastructure or guidance needs to be provided in the form of guides etc. There needs to be a decent impartial budget behind the initiative too and only the state can really do that.

In short we need a Wild Atlantic Way style branding and publicity exercise for an “All Ireland Whiskey Trail” and very specifically we need Failte Ireland to lead this initiative in consultation with the IWA and vitally rural independent non-members. Otherwise we are really missing a trick here and depriving rural areas of much needed employment opportunities.

Sadly the current political climate in Ireland is not massively conducive to the above suggestion. If the attitude that all alcohol is bad alcohol is pervasive throughout the Irish Government in line with the Health Bill then I fear the above is a pipe dream.

 

The Irish Government Wants to Tell People That Irish Whiskey Causes Cancer (Only Irish Whiskey Though)

Ok, folks I’m finally weighing in on the Public Alcohol Health Bill. I am doing so from the perspective of being a rational human being and an independent spirit producer. Let me caveat this entire thing by saying that Alcohol misuse, addiction and abuse is a terrible malady and tragedy for many. I think its correct that the government is stepping in to try to help, but I can’t agree fully with this approach.

This bill as a whole is really a risk averse knee -jerk reaction to Ireland’s old fashioned former not so grown up attitude to alcohol. Having lived abroad from 1992 to 2015, I can confidently make that observation. That attitude has changed in the last decade or so, to a good degree. Overall consumption is down with youth and in general we have become more discerning. The fact that so many independent drinks producers have sprung up in the past few years shows the change in attitude. There are certain factors though that have exacerbated problem drinking and the puritans have latched onto that. Cheap alcohol is an issue. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that minimum pricing laws are a good idea. Making alcohol more accessible than ham sandwiches in terms of pricing is not a good idea, it enables misuse and nobody will convince me otherwise, I can agree with that part of the bill. I place the blame for this with Supermakets and loss leader pricing, they forced that issue and something needs to be done about it.

There is also an Ad in my local off license which really bothers me, its for a well known red-top vodka and it literally says “20 Shots Per Bottle!”That is just stupid and is irresponsible advertising on the part of the manufacturer. It is promoting quantity over quality to shift bottles and its that kind of advertising that has put us in this mess,  along with low supermarket pricing.  Those two factors mean this Bill is now actually realistically on the table.

However, show me a single independent producer who would put more emphasis about the amount of “Shots” in a bottle over the care that went into making the liquid and the quality of its ingredients. There is not a SINGLE ONE who would advertise like that. But here we are. Lumped into this catch-all  bill that will affect our bottom line exponentially greater than our multinational Overlords. The independent spirit producers in this country are out quite simply to survive for the next few years, we are not out to hit the Million Case Mark globally. We need every advantage we can get.

This proposed bill will take away most of them.

If you are NOT  a multinational spirits producer in this country getting shelf space is already very difficult. This has been well documented. There are a few big players who have established in-house strategies of pushing out smaller brands with cold hard cash. So for example Busy Bar X in Dublin will have a cash and free booze deal with their beer or spirits supplier. Written into or agreed as part of this deal is that small crafty competitive set brands are kept out. Or Diageo for example will pay for the refurbishment of a bar and in return they will own all the beer taps and let’s say the, whiskey, Gin, and vodka categories in the bar for two years  or so. The guy behind the bar who is your biggest fan is simply NOT allowed to take your product on until the deal runs out. This is impossible to compete with for new small brands as you can imagine.

Let me make clear, in the olden days I did quite a few of these deals myself, mostly with Champagne in  New York Nightclubs its just the way business is done in Booze; Twas ever thus. The issue is here on our tiny Island of Ireland and our tiny capital city where most of the booze on this Island is sold,  is that there are in reality not THAT many high volume  bars/off licenses. So if you can’t pay to play you are out in the cold and you are selling individual bottles to pubs and shops outside of Dublin. Revenue-wise in a high cap-ex business like whiskey that is a long road but it is a harsh reality and one that is not going to change.

Similar things happen across the pond, but  in the case of USA for example if you do get shut out of an account you can just go to one of the several million others there are. There is enough room for Multinationals (just about) and Independents to live side by side. Then you have the excise issue, making this country one of most expensive in the world to buy Irish Whiskey, for a small high-end  independent brand Ireland is one of the toughest markets to do business already.

In good conscience you have to  sell your product in Ireland locally surely to be truly Irish? Ireland is our shop window, but the curtains are about to be drawn.

For a start, this bill will be force all spirits produced here to have labels with Cancer Warnings on them. It is unclear at this time whether these would be required just for selling in Ireland or also for exports. Irish Whiskey will become the only whiskey in the world with a cancer warning on it. Scotch, American, Japanese, Australian, New Zealand, German, French, none of those whiskies will need cancer warnings.

Our Government is about to pass a bill to highlight to people that Irish Whiskey specifically may cause Cancer. That is the message we are sending. Line up an Irish, Scotch, Canadian and American Whisk(e)y and the Irish will be the only one with Cancer on the label…..To make that 100% clear; The irish Whiskey renaissance is being “supported” by our Government by a requirement to be the only whiskey in the  world obliged to put MAY CAUSE CANCER on the label.

For independents this hits hard, not only because at the micro level we have to pay for new labels (its expensive in small volumes) but also because independents unlike Multinationals don’t have a global portfolio of spirits that can compensate for sales dips caused by something like this. People are scared of Cancer they just are  it is a nuclear option  to put the word on a product.

Secondly, the wonderful (and I mean that) Craft Drinks Bill currently snaking its way simultaneously though the Dail will be largely negated by the Public Health Alcohol Bill. The former bill allows small producers to sell alcohol legally to tourists without forking out for a 120K license. It is a game changer. It will allow rural distilleries to make a real crack at their tourism business model with a negligible start-up cost. However the public Health Bill will forbid them from advertising their tourism offering…..

Bit of an issue there lads. Rural distilleries are not in the center of Dublin and are not served by drop-in city coach tours. Many will need Wild Atlantic Way Warrior style spontaneous tourism to get going. They need billboards at Shannon or Cork Airport and signage on various routes to create drop-in footfall in the vital peak tourism season.

Also advertising & promotional images that have people in them and evoke place other than that of production and specific provenance like these below will be banned. This is a disaster for independents. One of the elements that makes independent spirits special and appealing to consumers is that they are produced by founders and interesting people on a mission, often on very unique places like my family farm. That passion and that inherent authentic provenance  is our ONLY competitive advantage over industrial scale producers. We need those images to be able to tell our unique stories. Showing a generic copper pot still or a generic barrel as provided for by the Health Bill, won’t hack it for independents. We can’t afford  2 Million euro campaign and a full creative and media buying team at Publicis to dream up a solution to that ban.

 

 

 

 

There is only so much hassle I will put up with to do business here in Ireland. I’ve moved home to set up a business devoid of broadband and cellphone coverage, I constantly wrestle with disorganised labeling enforcement, I had to put my house on the line to get a bond and had to become an expert in  alcohol laws  that were written in 1840 to do so. My focus has always been leant towards export because that is where the potential lies for a brand like mine and also quite frankly it is simply easier. I had hoped to expand out in Ireland once our revenues were really moving for no other reason than a sense of Pride.

From my perspective I can tell you, the health bill has made me totally re-think our tourism plans, which means totally re-think our local  employment plans. Furthermore any in market sales staff I was planning on will likely be shifted overseas and lastly if the cancer warning comes in, I may just pull my whiskey from the Irish Market entirely. Nobody in Ireland will get any advertising revenue from me either once it becomes generic.

This unbalanced bill may be the last straw for me and the worst part is, it still shows an old fashioned immature attitude to alcohol in this country, except this time its by our own Government.

 

 

A Clare Woman, A Kerryman, Some Antrim people walk into a bar in Beirut…Craft Collaboration Comes to Life in the Middle East

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Welcome to Beirut

Co-Opetition is a ridiculous word. Its one of those words that some consultancy was paid a ton of money to come up with and now dines out on. It appears in trend reports and Government body Industry powerpoints all the time. Words, however are powerful, and even though this one is a bit of a Frankenstein, I’m all for what it stands for in spirit. Any Indie drinks producer worth their salt is too. It is on the back of co-opetition that I’m writing this post from seat 36A of a Middle Eastern Air flight en route to Beirut. A dozen rows ahead of me are the forward-thinking disruptors from Ireland Craft Beers Bringing up the rear (due to a late connection via Dublin)  are 3 other Indie spirit & beer producing houses from all around Ireland. We are in Beirut for St. Patricks weekend together. If you work in the Irish Spirits Industry St. Patricks Weekend is a bit of a thing, it’s a great marketing opportunity a 48 hour period when everyone is Irish and everyone wants a little piece of Ireland in their glass.

Lebanon has a long winded, complicated relationship with Ireland, this is due to our armed forces  involvement with U.N. peace keeping. My brother served there several times as did many people from the parish of Cooraclare. Chateau Musar, one of Lebanon’s great wine houses exports a disproportionate amount of wine to Ireland.  The soldiers serving in Lebanon over the years there picked up a taste for it and carried that back home.

Now it seems The Leb is ready to reciprocate. Independent Irish Beers and Spirits are a bourgeoning sub-category in this part of the Middle East. The affluent nightlife driven consumers in magical Beirut want to know our stories, hear about our approach to production and at this time of year, they want a few authentic Irish People around. Who better than a bunch of irish beer, gin and whiskey makers to tip up to your St. Patricks Day celebration? It does not get much more authentic than that. We are here over the weekend meeting buyers, and media, hosting events and getting to know our distributors. We all came as a block you see, because there is power in numbers. For new independent brands opening export markets is expensive and logistically challenging. I have quite a few contacts from the old days that I use to kick down the doors of various markets, but even that is finite.

When an opportunity arises to enter a market under the Umbrella of ‘Independent Irish Beer and Spirit Producers’, you can be sure as hell I take it. Going into a market like this as a group does two things, first of all it validates the independent producer scene in Ireland, it provides a platform for all of us to launch from, its up to us whether we sink or swim in the long run but that platform is vital.

Second of all it distinguishes us from the Old Guard and the multinationals that own 98% or so of the market. I always make clear to people that Jameson and Tullamore Dew and those kinds of brands are NOT in my competitive set. I can’t compete over there with them, and neither can the rest of the Indies. But we can put up a decent fight as a sub category  . Everyone loves Jameson an they will always drink it, but there will come a time when they want to branch out of the Jameson, Bushmills, or DEW universe and that is where the Indie sub category kicks in.

I’m over here with the other indies and we are slowly growing our 2% market share and eeking it out between us. Establishing sub- category awareness and appreciation of Independent Craft Production is vital for that share to have any chance at growth. That is why quite a few or us get Testy about transparency and honestly with new brands. We care a lot about the reputation of Irish Whiskey and in particular the contribution new brands make to it, if there are a few bad apples in our cart someone could end up tearing down the proverbial Lidl with a stolen forklift if you get what I’m saying. All of here in Beirut this weekend are representing that sub-category we are not promoting Flaming Pickle Back Shots ,Guinness Hats and leprechaun outfits, we are promoting the provenance of the liquids we have given our heart and soul to produce. We tell the stories of where they are from and evoke all that is special about Ireland’s independent spirits. We have a louder voice and make more of an impression if we do that together.

 

Guys, We need to talk about the Looming Irish Whiskey Maturation Crisis

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Rural but Secure

If my bonded warehouse is robbed, technically I will have to sell my Horse, House and car to cover the duty owed to the Revenue on the stolen whiskey. That is not a Typo. In order to secure my bond for my bonded warehouse I had to agree to sell all my assets to pay the Revenue in the event of a theft. In reality of course I will just have my insurance policy pay this should anyone make it past our Skynet security system and my neighbors with shotguns (its rural Ireland, we ALL have shotguns).

The Revenue however will not accept an Insurance policy ALONE as assurance that the duty on stolen whiskey will get paid. So for a small business (right now) like mine you have to put your personal assets on the line. I don’t have many personal assets, I sold all my Diageo shares to start the business, and also used all my savings, but I do own Ireland’s Home of the Year 2017, a piece of crap car and a Lovely Lovely Horse called J.J. So I went to the Bondsman and technically signed those over. Satisfied that this would cover the duty on my sleeping whiskey, he issued me a bond and I handed it over to the Revenue who gave me a warehouse keeper number which allowed me to fill my Rackhouse with whiskey spirit for maturation in our little microclimate by the coast.

Not everyone is in a position to do that. For the larger whiskey enterprises backed by corporations this is a non-issue. But for us regional guys its a massive issue. In Scotland Insurance is simply accepted to cover the bond so it is a NON Issue. Ok, so major hurdle No. 1, pretty bad right? Now on to major hurdle No. 2.

There is no consistent planning regulation on maturation warehouses which  takes into consideration scale and location. For my bonded Rackhouse (I call it a Rackhouse, get over it)  is in County Clare. I dealt with Clare County Council and the local fire officer. I satisfied them that what I was doing was cool and I got all my various approvals and built the thing, They were not working to any code exactly. but I over specced everything anyway as I am protecting my whiskey and my livelihood.   Therein lies the problem. I’ve had quite a few calls from fellow producers around this. Regulations are not hard and fast when it comes to whiskey maturation warehouses. In most cases County Councils are dealing with applications for the first time in living memory. There is no precedent in the County so arbitrary regulations are thrown at the plan. Sometimes these are punitive and oftentimes they stop the build before it has started.  Being asked to install a 30K Fire prevention system or to dig a Moat around your tiny warehouse in the middle of a field to prevent fire spread  is quite common. Now on to Major Hurdle No. 3

 

Brand Ambassador for Chapel Gate Whiskey at Cooraclare

You can’t do that if your casks are 40 ft in the air, 

The Possibility of a Terrorist Attack, Fear of Fire, Fear of Flood, and/or Fear of roads being clogged otherwise known as NIMBYIsm. Due to the fact that small rural distilleries and producers find it so tough or impossible to get a bond,. Many are all being forced into centralized maturation facilities. Massive buildings in industrial parks like the desolate Nun’s Island one, with concrete floors and palliated warehousing. Homogenous maturation for all.  Irish Whiskey is on track to hit 20 million cases and we  need a place to store it all, even the multinationals do. So where do we put it all. The guys at The Vault (cool Name) came up with workable plan. They presented said plan at a public meeting and locals came out vociferously against it using all the objections noted above. When asked about the risk of fire the project developers explained there would be a big tank of water on site ready to put it out at any time, then someone else piped up and said that there was s risk of flood.  You can’t win in a room like that, and in the end their plan was rejected by the council. They are I understand planning their next move on the project.

So, in the meantime, will someone please explain, where is everyone supposed to mature their whiskey? It is currently unclear.

What bothers me most about all of this is the fact that this will stymie the re-emergence of regional styles of Irish whiskey. Small producers need every competitive advantage they can eek out over behemoths. There is no point in growing your own organic barley in field No 6, harvesting it, distilling it and then maturing it at the other side of the country because you can’t afford a bond or could not meet random regulations without breaking the bank. I don’t love the homogenised maturation facility move, I think its fine and necessary for multinationals and huge players, but for Indies I don’t think that it is the right solution, just my opinion mind you. The solution to that is super easy, we just need the Revenue to agree to accept insurance policies on Bonds up to lets say 500,000 euros or so as a start.  That would allow all of us indies to mature our own stock. We also need commercial bond insurance companies to enter the Irish Market and facilitate that.

Currently there is not a single trade organisation  looking to pursue this route to the best of my knowledge. Its not on the multinational’s agenda and so its not on the trade body agenda. The solution put forward and lobbied is that of large scale homogenised maturation, a one size fits all approach. It’s not the right solution for small producers. Maturation location MATTERS for regional styles of whiskey.

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When I want to check my casks I just walk the lines. I look under to check for leaks

But more importantly being able to steward your casks through the maturation process is really important for someone like me. I get to manage on an ongoing basis the humidity levels in my Rackhouse. If a cask is leaking I can see it and fix it. I don’t have millions of casks so I CARE about leaks, its money dripping onto my clay floor. If your casks are sitting on pallets stacked 40 ft in the air in a 3rd party warehouse, good luck finding leaks,  good luck sampling your distillate without disturbing everything and paying through the nose for warehouse workers time and the hire of forklifts etc. its expensive trust me) an lastly good luck explaining to visitors why they can’t visit the casks…”They are in a concrete warehouse in Wexford with everyone else’s” won’t cut it.

We need a Commercial Bond trade and Revenue allowance in Ireland for small producers and we need lobbying for same by trade bodies. The 2% of us who make the rest of Irish Whiskey that the multinationals don’t make need it,we’ll just have to lobby for it ourselves.  Oh and by the way, if my whiskey does get robbed, you can take my house and take the car, but you are NOT taking my horse.

A Blog Post in Which I fly to the Wrong City & Talk Forklifts

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Women & Whisk(e)y in Edinburgh, which is different to Glasgow just so you know. 

Now that our first release is out there, these days when I’m not in Ireland on site I am on the move telling our story and opening markets. One of the hangovers I have from my corporate days is that I slavishly follow my calendar especially in terms of appointments and meetings. I go wherever my calendar tells me to go and I DO NOT DEVIATE, which bothers my husband no end. If something is not in my diary, it does not happen, when it comes to planning my day I don’t do spontaneous. I do this because it is the only way to get Sh?t done. It is also the joy of being an entrepreneur, I don’t have to sit in useless meetings like I used to in corporate-land. Every moment of my day is productive because it schedule it that way. However if I happen to input an appointment incorrectly (which very rarely happens) it becomes an issue. As I deplaned in Glasgow on Friday morning, I joyfully tweeted that I was looking forward to sharing The Gael with the fine people of said city. I was in town for a few meetings and a lovely event organised by Justine from @KaskWhisky. It was dubbed whisky & women and in aid of a great Scottish Women’s charity Keymoves which supports vulnerable women in need, the event was part of the Audacious Women’s Festival.

The tweet went out and I immediately received a worried message from Justine informing me that in fact the people of Glasgow would have to wait as the event was on that night in Edinburgh, which as it happens is NOT Glasgow. Quite the Axl Rose on the 10th leg of the Get in the Ring Tour moment for me, Anyway it was not the end of the world, Edinburgh is a short train ride away and after completing my Glasgow meetings off I went to Hill Street, just off The Royal Mile, I’m so glad I did.

I sat on a panel with two other lovely whiskey people. Heather Nelson from Toulvaddie distillery & Lorna Hemy head distiller at Atom Brands the guys behind That Boutiquey Whiskey Co.  Heather hit the headlines when she announced her plans to build a distillery, she got a lot of attention due to the fact that she is the first woman in Scotland ever to officially do so. Heather like me is sanguine about that angle and is more concerned like I am with making good gender-neutral whisk(e)y.

I found a bit of a kindred spirit in Heather as you imagine I would. We bonded over Dump Trucks and diggers/forklift chat. What people don’t maybe realise still about my business is that is very hands on and I’m hands on. There is lifting, carrying, wrapping, and occasionally there is the odd piece of large machinery. I’m currently forklift window shopping, because I decided I need to be able to load my own pallets. Once the blending room is up and running, there will be a lot more production activity on site and the physicality of what we do and what I do will increase.

Heather spent much of last month wearing waterproofs sitting in the cab of a dump truck clearing an access road. Her distillery currently finishing construction is on an old World War 2 Landing Strip, up near Glenmorangie. She is not doing it all herself, but she does some of it, because she wants to have her hands in every part of the distillery build. We share that sentiment for us what we do is very personal and we want our fingerprints on the physical structures that we are building to make our vision come true. This might be a particularly feminine approach to building. Big machines for us are not about testosterone gratification, rather they are about creation, also maybe a little bit about the fact they are great fun.

I’ve been involved in a few ambitious builds over the years, not least of all our House on site which was a labour of love, but basically managed remotely. When we built the rackhouse and converted the cowshed into the “Gobal HQ” , I turned my hand to designing and detailing and they turned out great, in that they function really well and look good. The next project for me is the Blending Room. I’ve decided on this one to manage everything about this build. From buying the cement to bringing in the electrician, this one is going to be by my hand.There are a few reasons for this, first of all, I now have the confidence to do it, having been involved in building other stuff and second of all this blending room needs to deliver.

I’m betting the farm (quite literally)  on being a Bonder/Blender. I’m going to be spending a lot of time in that room disgorging casks, custom and precision blending and the place needs to be incredibly high functioning to allow that the level of precision I’m going after. Anytime I’ve ever built anything I’ve been obsessive about the form and functionality of a space and about how people move around in it. Often as the build goes up that changes over time and in the case of the blending room I know that will happen.

A good chunk of my energy in Summer 2018 will be taken up in a large part with that build. The planning permission came through and now I just need to figure out all the financing which is HARD GRAFT.  I will say I find hilarious all the Ads in Ireland about “Backing Brave” etc that you see all over the place and the f marketing stuff about supporting SME’s and lending within 24 hours the banks advertise on the TV. Access to finance remains elusive from banks for early stage SME’s like mine. This is the most precarious time for any product business, most of our first batch of whiskey is sold and we have a healthy forward orders but our pipeline is not yet up and running.  It’s a high Cotton kind of situation, its finite but we have to work through it. Luckily, like Heather in her waterproofs, I am resourceful as all get-out. I’m close to a solution and close to pushing the button on putting a deposit down on those stainless steel tanks. I’m also looking into to Forklft driving courses…In the meantime though Heather has promised me a go on her digger up in Toulvaddie. I think I’ll be taking her up on that.

 

 

My (late) Predictions for the Irish Whiskey Industry in 2018

It has been an intense few months around here. I’ve slacked off on blogging mainly due to the fact that I have had trouble finding the time. We are pretty much sold out now of our first batch of The Gael, it just won another medal at the World Whisky Awards and we are gearing up for Batch 2. I’m also kicking off work on our Blending Room, US is launching and I am opening more export markets so its kind of nuts.  I did not want too much of the year to pass by before putting on paper my thoughts on the coming year in Irish Whiskey. I did this last year and was close on some things and bang on, on others. Hold on to your hats and your outrage until you finish, here we go!

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Nobody Expects The FSAI/HSE/Dept. of Ag/Dept of Revenue Inquisition

Sh!t is About to Get Real on Labeling

The labeling saga is coming to a head. This is a bit of a double edged sword to be honest. For a long time nobody paid any attention to Labeling Pernod & Diageo just banged whatever they wanted on a label and off they went. When multiple newcomers arrived in the industry suddenly labeling was a hot topic and everyone started to lodge complaints against their competitors labels (mine included) Sadly the Old Guard of the Irish Whiskey Industry sleep walked into a situation whereby consumers who are increasingly demanding the truth in whiskey (shocker!)  have risen up and taken to the internet to highlight issues in false provenance and fake claims. What the industry perhaps failed to realize is just how powerful that medium would be in relation to this issue.

We are now in a situation where the FSAI, Dept. of Agriculture, HSE and Dept. of Revenue are coming together to IMPOSE hyper tight policing around labeling. So for 100 years nothing was done to police labels and now we are looking at a situation where we may have Over-Policing by governmental bodies who perhaps do not 100% understand the practical mechanics of our industry.

There is not a lot of agreement within the industry as to what should go on a label. Anyone who reads this blog will know I am in the 100% transparency camp. It’s a pretty lonely camp to be honest.  However there are thorny issues that are grey. There are a lot of heritage brands out there with place names on them from back in the day, they bear no correlation to where the whiskey is made. What do you do about that? Even I am not sure about that. Is is fair to tell a newcomer they can’t put a place name on a whiskey that is not made there  but someone who happened to do it in 1975 is allowed to continue doing so? In reality it does not matter a damn what any producer thinks. We are about to hear from the aforementioned cabal of departments on all of this. I don’t think its going to be pretty and the industry only has itself to blame for screwing around with consumer perception for so long.

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Not Like This Though….

Luxury Irish Whiskey Will Become a ‘Thing’

Of all the big whiskey categories globally, Japanese, Scotch, Indian, American, Canadian, it is Irish that is the rarest. Irish whiskey is a rare commodity. That word commodity is important. For a long time under the duopoly system Irish whiskey was stacked high and sold cheap and young, this continued when Cooley arrived on the scene. If you have a look on whisky exchange for 50 year old whiskey you’ll exclusively find Scotch and you’ll find loads of them from different distilleries. I would be surprised if Pernod have any 50 year old at all, If Jose Cuervo do have up north then it is precious indeed.  If they do, as probably the ONLY 50 year old Irish whiskey in existence it surely would be worth more than the £35,000 per bottle Royal Salute asks for its own?

Rarity means value. As someone who sources whiskey for a living I can tell you,  Mature Irish Whiskey is increasingly becoming more and more Unicorn like in terms of sightings. Anyone who spends any time in Dublin airport will have seen the whiskies on the top shelf ranging in price from 1000-5000 euros. You are going to be seeing more of that. Before everyone goes all irate in the comments…let me just say that this is a positive thing for our category.  Sure true whiskey fans tend to hate ‘Luxury’ whiskey because let’s face it its totally inaccessible but a Luxury sub category in Irish Whiskey is badly needed if we are to compete against Scotch and Japanese in terms of quality perception.

Well I would say that wouldn’t I? We have recently been accepted in to Walpole as a Luxury Brand of Tomorrow. Walpole is the luxury industry trade body and I get to spend the next year rubbing shoulders with Harrods, Bentley and all manner of luxury brands as we develop our portfolio. If you hate Luxury Whiskey you are going to despise me in 2018.

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Tullamore In January

The Whole Whiskey Tourism Strategy Thing May Wobble

OK this is a controversial one, but I am putting it out there. Without Bord Failte taking the lead on the All Ireland Whiskey Trail it will struggle to take off. I know there are wonderful numbers bandied about around Whiskey Tourism going up but geographically it is all centered in Dublin. There are tour buses now pulling up outside visitor centers and distilleries in Dublin and vomiting out coachloads of people 15 times a day and the rest. A few weeks ago in dreary January I was up the country sourcing new make whiskey (v.  exciting actually) and I stopped at Tullamore Dew visitor center on the way down. In the entire center there were 4 people, 2 were employees.  I know, I know its January, but I am using the example to illustrate the point. Tourism is totally seasonal in Ireland outside of Dublin. The Liberties is going to become the center of whiskey tourism pretty soon the way its going. Why do you think Pernod who make their whiskey In Cork have their tourism offering in Dublin? Diageo will be funneling the 1 million visitors to St. James Gate directly into Roe & Co. within a year…..

Bord Failte to date has not shown a Huge amount of support for the Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy, This is a problem. If our National Tourist board does not get behind the strategy and promote it globally in a similar fashion to the Wild Atlantic Way or Ireland’s Ancient East, then what real chance does it have outside of Dublin? I personally have no interest in opening a tourist attraction right now, I simply don’t have the capacity to make it happen, Eventually perhaps when we are better established I will look at doing something seasonal. There are however quite a few rural distilleries in development whose business model relies on tourism. Let’s see if Failte Ireland get behind it in 2018….

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Next Time I get A Letter I’m sending Optimus Over Got it?| 

Technology Will Circumvent EU Law Around Transparency

As I was vividly reminded recently through a series of anonymous competitor complaints, legal letters, and the threat of court action,  whiskey producers are not allowed to list full blend components by percentage in their blended whiskey. Under a bizzare interpretation of an EU law telling people everything that is in your whiskey can be construed as misleading to the consumer. You are allowed to list only the youngest component of the blend or nothing at all. This law is not fit for purpose many in Scotch who have faced similar issues agree with me on this. A lot, not all, of the new guard in Irish Whiskey value transparency and value their consumers right to know what they are paying for. This EU law is not going to change as there is no real drive in the industry to change it. There are however technologies coming online that  will allow producers to circumvent it. You’ll see that happening in Ireland and I imagine in Scotch this year.

Small Producers Will Come Together

I predicted this last year and I was wrong. I am 100% confident about it for 2018. There are more small Independent Producers now in Irish Whiskey than there are multinational companies. We are currently responsible for probably less that 1.5% of Irish whiskey sold, but there are more of us and we are growing. Our voice matters and needs to be heard.

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Inspiration

My Blending Room Will Be BadAss

Lastly, as is traditional I will throw in here a challenge to myself. Last year I predicted that I would begin exporting to the U.S.A. in 2017, I did. We launch on March 2nd in Connecticut to start with and roll out over 2018. This years personal challenge is to build a blending room that not only functions beautifully and allows me to precision blend, but to make it visually stunning. I’m a sucker for design and refuse to build anything that does not give me joy to walk in to. The easy way to do a blending room is to fire a few tanks up, but I’m not going to do it the easy way.

In all 2018 is going to be another great year for Irish Whiskey. A few more new distilleries will be coming on line with 3 year old, which is exciting and some will be opening their doors for the first time after many years of work, several others are breaking ground or coming out with pre-releases (I predict Powerscourt on that one) We are still a ways away from any kind of shake-out an in spite of our growing pains the future is bright. Now if only we could all actually find somewhere to mature all that pesky whiskey we’d be flying it.

To steal a tagline that I wish I had thought of and trademarked ages ago….”Glasses Up” everyone its going to be a great year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Lady Whiskey” is a Bad Idea Can we at Least Agree on that?

I’ve written before about the odd gender issue in the drinks industry. When I wrote this post about my awkward harassed kind of experiences the #MeToo movement had not really hit its stride. As we all know and are possibly exhausted from, it well and truly has now. When we hit the market with our first Irish Whiskey Release J.J. Corry The Gael, I was incredibly surprised at how much focus the media coverage had around our company being all female. Don’t get me wrong as a new brand on the market I was also incredibly grateful at how much coverage we received. However, like I’ve always said, we might be all female right now, but it does not mean we’ll behave any differently than any other Irish Whiskey Co. I’m at peace with my place in the world and in business as a woman, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are something I can really get behind although like many I am conflicted and still working through my feelings on the direction its taken recently, lets not dwell on that.

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Its a Badass Shot No Doubt Photo Credit John Kelly

What I can’t get behind is whiskey designed for Laydees. Like many in the industry when we read of my ex -employer Diageo’s plans to launch a ‘Jane Walker’ I actually face-palmed. Becky Paskin from scotchwhiskey.com wrote a balanced piece triggered by that little nugget of news this week. In it she erred on the side of hopefulness that Diageo are well intentioned and not simply slapping a lady on the iconic bottle to attract female whiskey drinkers. I’m not so sure. Women are a rapidly growing consumer set in Whiskey. All the high falutin’ research tells us so and its self evident if you are involved in the business in any way. FMCG companies like Diageo base New Product Development on consumer insights just like that.

Now I’m not exactly criticising that strategy here, its good business practice to target sub-sets of consumers, particularly if those sub-sets are in growth. Hell, I’ll be doing exactly that myself and using my relate-ability as a female founder to appeal to women whiskey drinkers.  What I do take issue with,  and I am not alone here, is what seems to be the Tone Deaf approach in the timing and execution of this.  Let me put it this way; I make J.J. Corry Whiskey to appeal to Whiskey Drinkers. I don’t make J.J. Corry for Men and a different product Bridie Corry (his daughters name) for Women. Women don’t need whiskey that is created specifically for them, we just don’t need it, we don’t want it and I for one feel the very concept is patronising.

I think its unfortunate possibly for the Diageo Comms. Team that this all broke at a time when gender issues are more prevalent than they have been since the 1970’s. The topic is a hot potato and right now Diageo are holding it in bare hands and trying to figure out if they should eat it or throw it in the distance.

Can we all just agree now once and for all, that Lady Whiskey is a bad idea? Can we all just accept that women approach whiskey No Differently that men. Our palates are no different. Each individual human being will decide what flavour profile they like better, based not on their gender but on their personal preference. Let’s not drag Whiskey into the Gender Wars, because we need whiskey to get through those very wars from time to time.