Whisky Connosr

It's a game changer

By Dominic Roskrow

There have been many times in the past when I've been accused of hyperbole, exaggeration and sensationalism in my work. It's partly the tabloid journalist in me and partially because in my enthusiasm I get carried away.

But I defy anyone to look at the initiative announced today between myself and Bondeau and then tell me that the words 'game changing' aren't appropriate.

Simply put, world distillers now have a way of selling even individual bottles of whisky to trade and consumer customers in the United Kingdom in an efficient manner. They keep control of their business, they can speak directly to their customers and they keep the lion's share of the money the whisky is sold for.

If you're interested in whisky from around the world, today's announcement is seriously good news.

In recent weeks I have sounded out many world distillers, dealt with their questions and listened to their views. And in the case of several of the very smallest ones, this project will redefine their business. Many had stopped even thinking about selling whisky in Britain. Now they can.

The response from world distillers who have offered an opinion has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic, though understandably there's some caution, too, and I suspect many will watch to see how the first few weeks go.

For one or two there are issues with existing partnerships and we understand that. We have made it clear that we are not seeking to replace existing distribution agreements. We do not ask for exclusivity and our intention is not to cause friction or conflict.

If you're interested in whisky from around the world, today's announcement is seriously good news. Time will tell how many distillers join us, but we believe that for a select group of whisky fans - and of course it is a niche market - this could be a godsend.And the distillers have the chance to build a firm base and then perhaps follow Mackmyra through to a relationship with the Whisky Shop chain and a national High Street presence.

It's a win win for Bondeau and I, too: Bondeau because this is a very small part of a very ambitious business and this allows the company to dip its feet in to the water.

And for me, because it brings all the loose ends in my business together - with major implications for the Craft Distillers Alliance, The Whisky Tasting Club, The Wizards of Whisky and of course, World Whisky Review.

This online magazine will in the future reflect closely what is happening with the new project and pages will be given over to the distilleries who come on board. How much of it depends on how many people sign up, but it will be substantial.

Does this compromise my independence as a whisky writer? Not at all. I was asked the same thing when I set up The CDA, and I can state without any doubt that If I see a story, I'll write it, no matter what the benefit, or lack of it, to me. My track record speaks for itself, and nobody has ever accused me of being mercenary. World Whisky Review has never earned me a penny.

I also think that gaining the trust and respect and being close to a whole world of new whisky will benefit the other companies I work with and write for, because this is frontline writing with an endless stream of new and exclusive contacts and stories.

Does it distance me from the Scotch industry? Absolutely not. And if you if have any doubts, look out for the new issue of Whiskeria, published March 1, which is highly Scottish focused and is arguably our best issue ever.

I'm immensely proud of today's announcement and what it might mean, and I'm very excited about the future. Possibly over excited - but what the hell, I'm still calling it a game changer.