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The Scoop: Why it’s Hard to Find Craft Spirits at your Local Liquor Store

Meet Gil.  Gil was an architect remodeling homes from Chelsea to the Upper East Side.

man sitting in a barrel roomGil decided to make whiskey, specifically Irish whiskey, which is different to Scotch. A different process, a different flavor, a different country. And beyond the few major brands offered in the US, it’s actually hard to come by. So Gil decided to experiment with the style himself. 

Now, if you’re an American distiller, you can’t just travel to County Cork, steal a recipe from an old farmhouse, and create a world-beating whiskey.  So, Gil went back to the history books and put his own unique twist on things – creating a pot still whiskey with a high corn mash, a recipe that has been banned in Ireland since the early 1900s because it veered too far into bourbon territory. Back then, the rise of interest in the tastes of bourbon (and thus, US brands), threatened to capture the Irish drinker’s attention, and of course that wouldn’t be good for local business. That’s right, even a century ago the British government, which at that time governed Ireland, was trying to protect the local distillers from the insidious bourbon craze!

All of this led to the creation of All Points West Malt & Grain Irish Pot Still Whiskey bottle of whiskey against a yellow backdrop made at his All Points West Distillery, located in the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, NJ.  So Gil’s made a great whiskey and has a cool story.  Job done, right? If you build it, they will come?

Well, not really.  He’s done one hard thing: created an amazing award-winning whiskey. Now to the second hard thing: getting that whiskey into the hands of enough people who will love it and buy it so that Gil can keep on making his whiskey.  One problem is you.  Yes, you.  It’s hard to get you to pay attention! Massive companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year telling you about their spirits. Gil doesn’t have hundreds of millions! How is he going to compete with the Jims & Jacks & Jamesons of the world, not to mention all the others? It’s a crowded marketplace.  

The second problem is the system.  In 49 of 50 US States, we have the three-tier system.  Sounds ominous, right?  Not really.  It just means that distillers must sell to distributors who move the product across state lines then sell to retailers who sell the product to you.  The chain works very well for big brands: the product gets to people who want it, everyone benefits, and the party continues.  However, more often than not, the chain is the enemy of small but worthy products.  Someone in that chain never talks to the right person or has a bad day or simply “doesn’t see it” about a particular spirit.  They’ve become a gatekeeper, preventing that spirit from ever even showing up in the places most people buy spirits. As a result, you never get to see, buy, or taste Gil’s award-winning whiskey.

Curiada exists to solve these problems.  First, we help distillers like Gil by introducing them to distributors and retailers who can “build the chain.”  Then, we take the lead – solving that first problem by showcasing a small selection of carefully chosen spirits vetted for quality and distinctiveness to get you to pay attention!  With the chain in place, we help Gil tell his story and help you discover a new, fascinating spirit.  Finally, when you hit that Malt & Grain Irish Pot Still Whiskey order button, half the work is done.

Now comes the fun part!  whiskey cases on a pallet waiting to be picked up at a whiskey warehouseGil’s first orders are ready to be picked up. Over the next few days, it will touch trucks, warehouses, and retailers across several states before being picked up, packed gently in a box, and shipped to you. Now Gil’s whiskey is in homes across the country, where before it was only available at a few select outlets. 

It’s still far from simple.  But, we do our best to get roadblocks out of the way to make it seamless for you to discover and experience a new, amazing whiskey from a small, independent distiller. 

We do it so that brands like All Points West, which deserves to be celebrated and enjoyed just as much as those few big Irish whiskeys, can grow and thrive.

Comments on this post (1)

  • Jun 17, 2020

    Great read! This is the type of background story that draws my attention, explains the mission of Curiada, and makes me want to support the little guy in the David vs Goliath story of the spirits world.

    — Danny Redmond

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