The Top Ten Things You Need to Know If You are Only Launching An Irish Whiskey Brand Today.

So, you’ve decided to become a billionaire by launching an Irish Whiskey Company, awesome, welcome to the Billionaire club.  Here is some advice from your friends in whiskey many of us who jumped on this particular bandwagon several years ago and are riding it all the way to Money town, just like you……

  1. You can’t get away with lying about a non existent distillery/distiller/ master blender anymore. Hyde screwed the pooch on this one a few years ago, and people actually stand up and take notice now and won’t tolerate it. You need to be open about what you are doing and not obfuscate the truth.
  2. You should not lie anyway, its in the bible, and its REALLY BAD for the Irish Whiskey category and all the rest of us if you are not 100% transparent about your approach to making whiskey. Consumers are not stupid and the more liars that come out in Irish Whiskey the worse it is for the rest of us.
  3. People won’t believe any old stuff about your water source or your amazing mind bending distillation techniques. Everyone knows that you are contract distilling at one of like 4 places in Ireland, just like the rest of us.
  4. Please don’t make films in the Nuns Island bonded warehouse, its really obvious.  Most people have their liquid there or at Stafford’s, its not a unique thing and its not your bonded warehouse so you can’t call yourself a Bonder either.
  5. Do read a few books about whiskey and learn about it, its easy to tell when people in the industry don’t understand much about the category. Hint, whiskey is not described as SMOOTH by and large…..
  6. Don’t say the 80% of whiskies flavour thing….I am personally guilty of that myself and I sort of regret it, its too debatable. Also don’t just throw in all the buzzwords, like Terrior, Bonding, hoping something will stick…..It’s too scattergun.
  7. Do realize that the whole CRAFT thing is dead. The term was so overused in the past 5 years that its meaningless now. If you have to shout craft all the time, it means you aint.
  8. Know that the engaged whiskeyphiles on social media will analyse and discuss what you are doing. They do not suffer fools lightly and their discussions are powerful and global in the whiskey media.
  9. Understand that being an Independent Bottler is actually an awesome brand position. Nobody in Irish Whiskey has claimed it yet, its well established in Scotland and if your blends are actually good, you can really blaze a trail.
  10. If you don’t love and want to protect this category for the future, you should not be entering it. We don’t need brands who are going to tarnish the reputation of our industry. We (the collective Indie Brands) are trying to build up the reputation of Independent Irish Whiskey through qualitative  blends and bottlings and authentic stories.  Don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

9 thoughts on “The Top Ten Things You Need to Know If You are Only Launching An Irish Whiskey Brand Today.

  1. Nice piece. You do know you are guilty of having broken some of these yourself in the past?
    Chapelgate DISTILLERY?
    Bringing back bonding?

    Like

    • Hi Whiskey Lover. When I founded the business I was going to set up a distillery and I registered the name chapelgate distillery as a URL. I then realized I would not open a distillery and that I would bring back whiskey bonding, which I have in my own bonded warehouse under my own bond….. and I registered our company name as Chapel Gate Whiskey co. to ensure there would be no confusion. So, yup, that’s exactly my point, be honest about what you are doing and change tack if your business model changes tack to stay honest and not confuse other whiskey Lovers. Like I said its an advice piece. Thanks though!

      Like

  2. We will get a lot of newcomers jump in for money over the coming years, but I think this is a good thing. New brands become more foot soldiers promoting our wonderful country and wonderful whiskey globally. We should welcome them with open arms as long as they follow regulations and guidelines.

    I won’t go over and pick apart your entire post as there are a few flaws that a newcomer such as yourself that’s stuck in the GND, Nuns/Staffords box wouldn’t know. Please take this in the nicest way possible, you’re not really in a position to offer advice to newcomers yet. Your post was fun and a little sarkey, but not really correct.

    To touch on your 80% comment, for starters you still have this video saying that “80% of the flavour comes from the barrel” on your website. So, if you no longer believe it, maybe you should take it down as it would be false marketing in your eyes and you’d be no better than the newcomers you’re trying to belittle/guide with this advice piece?

    Personally, I feel you should have stuck to your guns and not backed down on the 80% to succumb to the others because Hyde got attacked. I’m a distiller and have ran many tests at the largest facilities. Barley is barley. The cask really is where the majority of the flavour comes from. I could write for days about this. Take the exact same batch of new make and put it in 3 separate barrels (bourbon, rum and sherry) and in 3-5 years taste them and I will guarantee you they are drastically different whiskies even though from the same batch (we’ve tested this many times). One could easily think they were from different distilleries and different age statements. The cask makes a dramatic impact on the whiskies flavour, structure and finish.

    Here is an article from Vic Cameron who sat on the IBD Barley Committee and the MAGB Technical Committee speaking of barleys impact on flavour (it’s non-existent, other than it tastes like barley that’s been distilled) and been tested across many varieties https://scotchwhisky.com/magazine/features/8844/does-barley-variety-affect-whisky-flavour/

    Your angle on the cask much like Hydes angle on it was spot on. You’ve seemed to shy away from this or for some reason want to warn newcomers not to use this angle because of either…
    A. you want to keep this as your own or
    B. You saw Hyde get smashed on this topic and want to avoid this happening to you

    Hyde were right.

    Stuart McPherson the Master of Wood at Macallen said
    “”The Biggest single influence in the creation of Macallan is the cask, We have this obsession for wood. The wood itself is responsible for up to 80% of the final flavour””.

    Stuart has been around the cooperage and Macallan since 1979 and has seen first-hand, thousands of times, new make whiskey turning into something totally different because of the cask and where the cask came from. If the worlds most iconic whiskey brand doing 15M LPA reckons its the cask that makes them great, and the experts Like Vic Cameron at Diaego came to the same conclusion, maybe it’s not a marketing ploy and its actually the cask flavouring the whiskey, lol. Your a tiny brand with no market penetration, your not a distiller, master of malt, wood or the likes, so you really can’t write a blog posing as an expert offering an advice piece to others when you dont really know a lot about whiskey and haven’t spent your lifes work in it like myself or other experts have.

    I feel that at the very least 100+ new brands will enter the Irish space in the next 20 years and we should be excited about it. Each brand will pour in marketing dollars and more entrepreneurial spirit into expanding our reach as an industry. Taking Irish whiskey to bars we would never get to visit in our lifetimes. There’s enough money with this upcoming growth for plenty of more brands. Plus they will bring innovation and some new interesting whiskies for the online whiskeyphiles to try. Without being nasty, as this can easily come across this way, your not part of some “indie brand collective”. You’re a whiskey brand on your own that is relatively unknown and you’ve made pretty much all the same markety claims your trying to now tell others not to do, and still have some of these claims front and centre on your website. A tad bit of the “pot calling the kettle black” here Louise.

    If you really care about Irish Whiskey and not just your back pocket, maybe reach out to these newcomers and give them a few pointers offline, rather than the blog filled with sarcasm and false information disguised as an advice piece. As I step down from my tenure as a distiller in the next 12 months, that’s what i will be doing. Some free advice and hopefully land a role as their consultant.

    I understand its a stretch to ask you to offer advice to all these new competitors (offline and with sincerity, not sarky and online as a way to try and get them laughed at), but I only ask as if all the newcomers get attacked like the Hyde whiskey debacle for doing exactly what all the other brands were doing at the same time (Teelings claiming Dublin, Yourselves with Chapelgate distillery, Jameson with Bow St, Connemara being from Dundalk and the list goes on and on) then we will create this horrible nasty circle of venom and online attacks in our industry. And then Irish Whiskey loses.

    What do you think will happen if one of these new brands get so badly attacked like Hyde, but they can’t survive the bully bashing you give them so they lose their family home or life savings? Do you think they won’t get nasty and sit in a dark room for months like a keyboard warrior with the sole aim to get revenge on everyone who participated in this “gang up on the newcomers” mob and see to it you suffer the same fate? Or maybe they have huge pockets and go legal and hire press companies and ruin your brand before anyone globally knows who you are… You get the point, it becomes a big vicious circle, when the newcomers are the ones we should all be helping. Don’t be as naive to think the 30-40 brands or so are all we will ever have. How can we compete with Bourbon or Scotch with such a small selection? More brands equal more growth.
    People in the industry pissed and moaned about Conor Mcgregor, but he has opened the door for you in so many bars globally you haven’t really seen the impact of this yet. Embrace the newcomers, give them a helping hand if needed, don’t blog about them online to make yourself look like more of an authority or keep linking to the post about Hyde. Hyde has gone on from strength to strength. They fixed their ways and the post by Bill was necessary at the time and served a purpose. However, everyone was doing similar to Hyde, they were the ones to get slammed because they likely took it too far. My point is that its old news from 2 years ago. We should applaud them now and not link back to it in 2019.

    The people writing about negative things online are the ones hurting our industry. If newcomers have a labelling issue or a marketing jargon that’s wrong or it’s fabricated for effect, we now have governmental bodies that can fix it. Let them do their job and let the market phase out the bad whiskies or ones that their brand doesn’t stack up. As you said its all made in similar distilleries so the quality will be on par, its more about the maturation, flavour and finish. So why worry about a bad whiskey, when according to you, they are likely buying from the same people as you are.

    If they lie on the lable it won’t be approved by HSE. If they say things you feel are factually incorrect or markety and it might hurt the industry, reach out to them, get clarification as you’re also a newcomer and don’t know everything, they may have commercial information you’re not privy to. Don’t assume as you did on the 80% thing. You were right with a plethora of scientific evidence to back this up (had you looked into it properly), and shouldn’t have second guessed yourself to dodge an attack.

    Excuse my very very long response. Felt it needed to be said as the post seemed like it would or potentially could begin a “Us vs Them”. Newcomers vs brands who are “in already”, and if that happens, we all lose for the reasons stated above. This isn’t a closed-door industry and tons of newcomers are on the way. It won’t take long to know if they are out to profiteer and hurt the industry or they are trying to promote it. Let them thrive and help, or suffer their own mistakes, but I think its a bad move to try to be some sort of watchdog and out them publicly online as was done to Hyde. Would you want the same thing done to you? Could have easily happened with some of your claims. Does the Irish Whiskey industry need that type of press? Everyone was doing it. Now the government are stepping in, so us whiskey producers can focus on promoting rather than the negatives.

    People are still making unsubstantiated claims. Take Mark Reynier with his terroir. Total fabrication and 100% cannot be tasted in the glass after maturation. I’ve personally proven this. But its a story, it will surely help sell whiskey and if it makes the consumer feel better to know where the barley is from then where is the harm? Where is the harm in saying where the water is from as you said in your post is a bad thing? Your water for your GND mass produced stock is most likely from Slieve Na gCloc. A mountain in Cooley. Why not find out for sure and then use it. So what if your whiskey is made in a commercial facility. Its still whiskey and still uses Irish spring water. Believe it or not people actually want to know where the water is from. Every single water brand on earth does this Fiji, Vos, Evian etc. Are they scammers, liars, shysters? No, they have a story about the water and they know the people want to know this story, so they use it. The goal is to get people to try your whiskey. it’s not un-authentic to say where the water is from if its true. Kentucky bourbons use this (Jack Daniels uses it heavily for the limestone content they claim adds a sweetness to the whiskey) Mark has a barley story. you have a story. So go sell it and don’t conform to try to avoid being laughed at by a few ejits who will point the finger at everything you do anyway. Leave the newcomers alone and help them with real advice, not try to pick holes or laugh at them online for the rest of the world to also see to elevate yourself. I think a post like this hurts Irish Whiskey more than helps it.

    Like

    • Hi Sean,

      Thanks for picking apart my post. See my responses below.

      1. This post was written in response to a lot of noise on social media about a brand which launched a few weeks ago claiming to be the World’s Most Collectible Irish Whiskey. The brand is one of those that does not seem to have much substance and whose story was murky and potentially harmful to the categories reputation so I put this up there. I was not alone in thinking this, if you are on social media you would have seen that neither were many others involved in the Irish Whiskey Category. It was 100% meant as a snark piece as most people picked up by its tone….

      2. I don’t know the founder of the brand, they have never reached out to me in any capacity for advice unlike many others in the indie space. I’m recent founder and I give my time, advice for what its worth, and energy in to helping everyone in the Indie world where I can. We share suppliers, sell each other kit, call each other up about Revenue issues. Just because YOU are not aware of this collective, does not mean it does not exist. It does, and it’s a wonderful community of people who have nothing but the interest of the larger industry at heart. I’m proud to be a part of that collective and I speak to, meet with, encourage and answer everyone who is looking to join the industry. I don’t expect to be paid to be their consultant when I retire so Pot Calling Kettle there on ‘Lining your pocket.’

      3. I’m not in any GND or Stafford’s box. Of course I source from GND but I have several other sources. I am building a library of whiskey spirit from all over the country. I match new-make spirit to casks (that I source) and let maturation take its course in our bonded rackhouse here in Clare, the first of many that I’m building on site which brings me on to point 4.

      4. You’ve spent 4 or 5 paragraphs here trying to prove to me what I have bet the farm on (LITERALLY MY FARM) ; cask influence. My entire business model is based on sheparding spirit after it comes off the still. If I did not believe in cask influence I would have opened a distillery and focused on mash bills. I have not shied away from this approach I have a robust wood program in place which will bear fruit in about 5-10 years. My point on 80% is that the number is too debatable and you open yourself up to attack when you use it, that’s a real piece of advice. I kept the video up because I don’t mind defending myself on the statement but I would not recommend others do. Defending yourself from people who don’t agree with you is exhausting, I mean look its Saturday and I’m sitting here writing a response to you.

      5. As for Hyde…Their printed material now talks about them being “PASSIONATE ABOUT WHISKEY BONDING” they never mentioned the term until they got caught out lying about having distillers and blenders, so whatever. Good luck to them in their future endeavors, they’ll be on to terrior next I’m sure.

      6. Are you aware that in your own post, you have just gone ahead and attacked a newcomer into Irish Whiskey? All the while berating me for doing so? You even MENTIONED THE NAME!!! Pot calling Kettle Colour Check Over?

      7. Given that you are retiring, I am assuming you have been in the Irish Whiskey Industry for a long time. I know that change is uncomfortable and the last few years has been unsettling for many, in particular the role that the Internet plays in Irish Whiskey now. I have a forum here on this blog to express my opinions on the industry and on how I would like to see it shaped for the better. If you’ve read many or any of my other posts you’ll see that by and large I’m a positive player. We’ll agree to disagree here, but I will continue to defend the category publicly whilst helping our our collective privately.

      Thanks for reading my blog.

      Like

  3. Louise,

    Quick response to the 7 comments.

    1. If it’s a snark piece, why try to pawn off as an advice piece in your comment to whiskey lover.
    “if your business model changes tack to stay honest and not confuse other whiskey Lovers. Like I said its an advice piece. Thanks though!”?
    Just because a few on social media want to attack, does it mean you should too? As it was a clear snark piece, it kind of came off as the new girl wanting to be accepted by the hip kids..
    Ok, i’m now aware of who the piece was aimed at primarily. Yes, I seen a video on this brand the other day. Not sure how any of what they claim can damage the industry though, that’s a big stretch. A video inside a shared warehouse with casks of their whiskey and a unique casking method. If they actually cask at this 55% and source their claimed “premium barrels” that are dried for longer then whats the problem? The issue will be if they are lying. But how can any of us know that without speaking to them? The content of the video was no different than every other brand that doesn’t have a distillery.

    2. have you reached out to them to invite to your collective privately before writing about them. You say their founder never reached out to you. Why would they or should they? Your not an authority nor have a collective that helps other brands publically listed for them to find you. They might not even know you exist. If you’re attacking them in particular, I feel it’s your responsibility to reach out them first and clarify their position. I actually think the 55% casking is interesting, either genius or a flop. A similar technique is done in the US to outstanding effect. Granted the US has different weather so I feel they need to get the cask right when maturing in Ireland. Likely virgin, but i’m excited to see how it plays out. They could fall on their face with shite whiskey or likely make the best whiskey ever tasted from our shores. Myself and a couple other distillers I spoke to this morning are leaning toward the later, but we’ll see. I’m going to test this theory out soon too.
    Regarding me making money from my years in the industry, why not? These new brands need it, the irish whiskey industry needs it. More of us should do it. A lot better than creating some private collective that none of these new brands can find, who you claim all share advice they cant access and then slam them if they say something you don’t understand or agree with. Not really a fair game in this regard is it? consultants are needed for the future of Irish whiskey.

    3+4. I’ve huge respect for what you’re doing regarding the staking the farm. I like that you buy from multiple distilleries and are focused on the wood. But again dont go after another newcomer when your touting the same thing as they are. Who are all touting it from the major Scotch firms (who are all correct)!

    5. Hyde would be insane to claim terroir. its not factual, whereas the wood actually is factual. They hit the nail on the head with “its all about the wood” why blow that for something that’s not factual regarding terroir. All the terroir will do (should Waterford win any awards) is get farmers to charge more because of where their barley is from, which will hurt you in the long run. Why the hatred towards Hyde. They share the same dream you do, as does all these newcomers on the way in

    6. Yes I am. I’m guessing he’s part of your collective given I found your article on his twitter feed. I think terrior will help Mark sell more whiskey so cudos to him. But I won’t lie and say its real when it isnt. I was merely comparing the attacks he makes on how cask has very little to do with it and “its bulshit” as he says, when he’s writing articles and reports to help push his own “barley is the key” narrative. it’s self-serving and false. He did the same thing in Scotland

    7. defend is a good idea from outside attacks. To attack other brands in your industry is bad for Irish whiskey in my humble opinion.

    Like

    • Sean,
      You are entitled to your opinion of me and my motivations for my business, the industry and for this piece, whether that opinion is negative or not..My stance is and always has been that if you join the category you should be open and honest about what you are doing, otherwise its damaging for the category and I will always defend the category. That all and that is what this piece is about. I don’t do online debate as its never very productive, its too easy to misinterpret in the written word and it gets mean (New Girl?) . Again, thanks for reading the blog have a good weekend and retirement.

      P.S. Who are these cool kids???? They Sound AWESOME!
      Very Best,
      THE NEW GIRL (with 22 years of experience in the drinks industry…..)

      Like

  4. Let me take back any harsh words toward you and mark. I respect both of you for going after the Irish whiskey industry to maker it better (whether your right or wrong). The market will determine what works and what doesn’t. So I apologise for any words that seemed offensive. I just want to forward Irish whiskey passionately and hate when the negative narrative that social media has created in the world lately leaks into the industry i love

    Like

  5. Mr Carroll, you would be most welcome as my guest to come to Waterford, since you will soon have time on your hands, where I would be delighted to let you taste terroir and prove to you that it is indeed very real and not “total fabrication and 100% cannot be tasted in the glass after maturation.” After a career in distilling you might be surprised, even enjoy learning something new.

    Like

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