Well, ironically enough I won’t be able to make the first evening tonight of Whiskey Live as I am here on site in Clare awaiting delivery of our blending tanks for our Bonder’s Blending Room which arrive all the way from Ningbo today. Meanwhile just yesterday we saw our very first shutdown of a high profile distillery build, The Quiet Man Distillery in Derry. It is a bit of a shocker.
The Quiet Man was initially founded by Niche Drinks who have a good long track record in the lower end of the alcohol market, mostly trading in Irish cream liquors and sugary ‘Oirish’ drinks for the American market. Their Quiet Man whiskey when they launched did well as they had a good distribution network and they were able to find a market for it. That alone would give them a good chance of success which is what is needed in the sinkhole of capital that is the whiskey business.
There are a lot of distilleries still in various stages of planning and construction around the country and the clock is ticking on that. Whiskey is a cyclical beast, you only have to look at the history of the more robust Scotch industry over the past 50 or 100 years to track the historic commercial trends and changes that our newly re-formed industry is going to be subject to in the coming years. Many would argue that now is not actually the right time to be building a distillery at all, if its not already in production its too late. I’m not sure about that but I think we are fast approaching that moment. The Quiet Man Distillery I would have thought was just about on the right side of the curve.
Furthermore, they were in my mind one who would absolutely make in a large part due to the brands acquisition by LUXCO earlier on this year. The $15 Million distillery surely would be a goer given they had serious backing, planning permission, an established route to market and a decent brand. Of all the projects underway at the moment it seemed to me that this one was a sure runner. I followed along for a while and noticed that construction had started, and it was all go for The Quiet Man in Derry. It was actually nice for me to see an independent brand make it happen in this way.
It seems though that something may have gone awry in the Summer. The last post on their twitter feed is a picture of their Frilli stills in production in Italy dated 14th August and then there is radio silence on that particular feed, not a good sign. If our twitter ever goes quiet please will someone send in the police and the fire brigade because something is badly wrong……
So what happened?? How bad does it actually have to be to pull a distillery project smack dab in the middle of construction? I mean pulling it when its still on paper is one thing, several distilleries here with planning permission will never have a brick laid, but this was well underway. I mean the stills were being made! Luxoco are no newbies to distillery construction having recently opened a $38 million distillery in bourbon country, in addition to a tequila distillery in Mexico. A Luxco representative said to the BBC it was due to ‘commercial reasons’ which is about as vague as it gets. Is this a Luxco capital issue?? (I doubt it) or is it something else? Brexit? Lack of Mature Supply? Something more sinister? What could it be? Does it mean the end of the Quiet Man brand? Or just the distillery? Its not clear.
Furthermore, what does this mean for the rest of the industry? Will this spook investors out there currently eyeing up plans for shiny distilleries and will it make it more difficult for the many, many folks out there trying to finalise capital for their projects? This is a confounding one. I don’t see this as Attrition, I continue to believe we are not at that point in the rebirth of the industry just yet. I don’t know if this is a harbinger of things to come or just a blip. But it will most certainly be something I’ll be nattering about with my fellow producers. I’ll see you there on Saturday folks.
I have a Bonder’s Blending Room (not a distillery) to build today.