You cannot help but be fascinated by the efforts of Carin Castillo, the person who launched SIA Scotch whisky in the US in 2013 following a successful Kickstarter campaign.
I love an entrepreneurial story, especially one where the entrepreneur in question has a clear mission to introduce new consumers to a market and who’s passion shines through every word they say or print.
And that is exactly the case with Carin, who will be interviewed for GreatDrams in due course.
The journey from brand to market
The eloquence of the story behind the brand’s route to market and the honesty of what she needed to take it there astounded me, take a look for yourself.
Reading the back story, I went through both excitement and a strange sense of guilt that I had not gotten involved and invested, especially as one of the pledges got you a thousand bottles of SIA Scotch whisky named after you!
Key points from The campaign:
For the last 10 years, I’ve had a love affair with Scotch. I’ve loved exploring its richness and complexities. I especially love that moment when I introduce someone to the right Scotch and see the look of surprise and delight spread across their face.
I developed blind tastings of over a hundred different types of Scotch to find the unique flavor profiles that appealed to a modern palate. Armed with this research, I began testing and tweaking variations after variations, until I knew it was perfect.
Then the real work began.
- Researching and calling on over 80 distillers
- Carefully selecting an award-winning distiller to create the highest quality product
- Evaluating and securing the perfect importer that is completely aligned with the mission of this brand
- Spending long nights doing the painstaking work of building pricing, distribution, retail and marketing plans
- Working for over eight months designing a modern bottle and package to stand out from all the dusty stodgy bottles on the shelf
- Securing difficult and stringent approvals from the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau of the federal government and the Scotch Whisky Association
Ultimately she smashed the target and the SIA Scotch whisky movement was delivered to US consumers in earnest.
I know I’ve gone on a bit about the campaign but I believe that entrepreneurial spirit should be celebrated.
Now onto the product.
The bottle is definitely disruptive for the Scotch category, a tapered midriff forms an elegant, proud and vibrant product that will, like Haig Club’s revival, definitely attract non-whisky drinkers to the category from gin, vodka and potentially even wine.
Pale gold in complexion, the liquid almost glows.
With a nose full of spice, rather unexpectedly so, I was taken aback by the depth and character I experienced.
The initial sip was similarly curious; oily, buttery, creamy, all countered by fruity notes that had a very subtle lemony bite.
The finish was relatively long for a blend made of 50% Speyside, 40% Highlands and 10% Islay malt with lots of fresh barley lingering, as if you’re say in a barn relaxing after a tough day (not that I ever have done any manual work but this is what I imagined).
Overall I think the composition of the liquid and the consumption experience beats Haig Club (without the billion dollar campaign around it) for me and I would happily recommend this to friends who think they don’t like Scotch. SIA Scotch whisky will change minds and win hearts, you mark my words.