One year in business…a little reflection…

One year ago our first product was launched…Wagging Finger Gin exercise V1.0. It was well received, we were proud as a peacock but it was only the first one in a line of three. While you read this, the last drops of distillate flow from the still. This distillate will make up the first batch of out standard expression of the Wagging Finger Gin. We also recieved to award in our first year. NY and Berlin International Spirits Competitions awarded the V2.0 and American Oak gins with bronze medals.

We’ve entered the world of the “craft-distillers”. A beautiful term that is misused a lot. Craft-brewers and craft-distillers…when these were up and coming years ago you know exactly what “craft” stood for. It usually started as a hobby that spun out of control while the most important part was a passion for the product and a small-scale approach. In that case you are a craft-brewer/distiller in our eyes. But hasn’t the word “craft” lost a lot of its appeal? A few months ago I was at an event in Rotterdam where a smartly dressed PR gentlemen from one of the world largest brewers told me that Heineken had just presented itself as a craft brewer with the launch of their new pilsener. I couldn’t help but laugh…which was met with a look of disbelief. And that was propably the worst part of this encounter. He knew who I was, knew my background but was completely unable to detach himself from the carefully constructed PR message…

And it is not only the world of beer that has to be carefull that a vulnerable term like “craft” doesn’t fall prey to the large marketingmachines of the distilling multinationals. Some of the the big Scotch distillers are quite good at misusing the term. When, as one of Scotlands biggest producers, you fill a few casks that previously held beer you, all of a sudden, are experimental, hip and “craft”. And when the PR-budget is big enough you succeed in letting everybody know that it is actually true. Mind you, we are not saying that the products aren’t good. But the way the consumer is led to believe that such huge companies are all of a sudden “experimental”, “small-scale” and “craft” is what bugs us. It is clear that in these cases the PR department saw a development in the market and decided that they had to chip in.

It is like McDonalds all of a sudden serving “healthy” food….just do what you are good at, be it Hamburgers, lots and lots of cheap pilsener or a fine single malt. But don’t pretend to be something you are not (anymore)!

We are not screaming on the top of our lungs that we are a craft distillery. In our opinion the term is contaminated and misused so much that using isn’t making things more clear for the consumer. We are just a small distillery, working by hand, with a passion for the product and the way we make it. Trying to make the difference in the taste of our (in this case) Gin. And everything we do we do under the watchful eye of “Willemijn”. Put them next to each other, the Beer or Gin form that small producer next to the bulk-product from multinational X. And then, after tasting it, you can qualify the your preference.

Luckily a lot of you know how the wonderful world of marketing works and most of you know how to discern between on honest story and marketing BS.

Support the small ones…Be it Wagging Finger or Kalkwijck or Eaglesburn or Sculte of Schouten or one of the many others that are rowing upstream and working really hard to pursue their dream.


Erik Molenaar