April 2016…the first Wagging Finger Gin is bottled and ready for distribution. It is Exercise V1.0. The months leading up to that moment were the most invigorating of my professional life. The proces of buying a still, finding the right building (for now) to put it in, developing a brand identity and starting the search for a matching recipe was fun and exhausting at the same time. A rollercoaster of decisions had to be made and somehow they all felt right. It all felt “easy” (it wasn’t but it felt like it) and the curious onlooker might have thought that starting a distillery was all fun and games. What people didn’t see were the occasional panic attacks, the hours of sleep lost over financial worries and the really long hours (I’m not complaining) I put in to this endeavour.
Fast forward…september 2017. After releasing 3 limited versions of my Gin (Exercise V1.0, V2.0 and V3.0) today the first pallet with THE Wagging Finger Gin will leave for the distributor. This is the Gin constructed from the 3 versions that were previously released. There is the nice Citrus influence from V1.0…the Balance that got V2.0 a bronze medal at the International Spirits Competition in New York and the bold expressiveness from V3.0. By adding a little cloves and aniseed a slight spicy edge was added. I couldn’t be more proud of the result of the search for the perfect recipe.
Realitycheck…. I’ve stopped counting the hours per week that I pour into this adventure, my hands hurt because of the handling of the manual bottling line, I’m rowing upstream in a very fast flowing river, the money is tight and progress is slower than expected. Yesterday I did a Gin tasting in a Wine&Spirit store somewhere in my country and while telling the audience about Wagging Finger, Willemijn, the Gins and our future plans I fully realised how much I love what I am doing. I thrive when I “perform” in front of a group of people that want to hear my every word, I cherish the moment when I’m alone with the still that steadily releases the distillate, the hum of the agitator is almost like a mantra. I curse the bottling line after 500 bottles with hands hurting, I curse the long drives to wherever I need to be for a festival, promotion or tasting but love being there and telling people about my passion.
I took a big leap of faith in 2015. From a steady well paid job into the unknown. After a year and half in production I know that the branding, the quality of the product and the amount of effort I put into Wagging Finger to make it a succes will eventually pay of. The (inter)national drinks business isn’t easy…if you’re looking for a quick win…look further (and yes there are always exceptions to the rule). I am in this for the long run…
Next month I’ll be installing a mash-tun, a fermenter, hot water tank etc… That will give me the opportunity to mash and ferment my own grains. This way I can start working on grain- and maltspirits for Genever, Korenwijn and Whisky. Many times Wagging Finger is perceived as yet another Gin brand…but Wagging Finger is more…I didn’t just come up with an nice bottle and asked some big industrial distiller to churn out a couple of thousand liters for me. Wagging Finger is all about the love for the craft and to prove that even now it is possible to start a small independent distillery and have people make informed choices of what they buy and who they buy it from….You want to support the big corporate alcohol multinationals, be my guest. But at least once try my product and come and tell me which you like best.
You can follow all of this closely through Facebook, Instagram and the website. Please support Wagging Finger in any way you can…share our posts, get the word out, buy a bottle. Support the small Dutch distillers. I’ve met wonderfull people in the last 2 years, all wanting to help in whatever way they can. People that helped distilling, people that helped bottling and people that just listened and sometimes gave advice when I wasn’t sure what direction to take. To all of you a big THANK YOU! The biggest however is for my wife Mirjam. Her never ending support for and complete trust in this undertaking is indispensable. Couldn’t do it without you!
If you are interested in retailing Wagging Finger products please get in touch with de Monnik Dranken in Oldenzaal . They exclusive handle the distribution for Wagging Finger products.
If you are interested in importing Wagging Finger products for your local market please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 0031 (0)6 81500577
Thanks to 1923 and Nice Try Productions for the photos