June 10, 2021
On the Road with Reservoir
If you’re asked any questions you can’t answer, just send those folks to me.
I looked at my boss. The one who brought me to the London Whisky Show with just barely enough information to sound like I was dangerously competent but not snarkily egotistical.
You mean like, “How many proof liters are you pulling off the still between noon and 6 pm on every third Saturday of the month?”
Or how about, “Exactly what percentage of liquor are you extracting from that rare twenty-five-year-old rum cask you’ve been resting your bourbon in for two years?”
Or even this one. How bout this one? “Will you marry me?” *hic* Can I lob that one over to you as well?
He gave me a look from beneath his brow. Umm … no. You can deal with the drunken fan boy bits on your own.
Fab. Back to work.
And work it was, as setting up a booth in Old Billingsgate—one of London’s myriad iconic buildings, notably a venue that used to house the world’s largest fish market—was not just as easy as plunking down a few bottles of booze and then flipping a shingle to say ‘open for business’ as thirsty customers strolled by.
Instead, it was setting up the most eye-catching, magnetically plumaged display of all your finest award-winning wares right beside hundreds of other eye-catching, magnetically plumaged displays of award-winning wares.
And for most of us, all on the size of a postage stamp.
The festival brought distillers and whisky lovers from all over the world together to experience some of the most coveted, laurel-wreathed drams begging to be savored. Participants wandered (and eventually stumbled) about from booth to booth over the two festival days with supremely developed palettes and highly developed expectations.
Now there may only officially be listed just over 100 carefully selected global distillers, but each one of them had some version of, You think that was good … (pulls bottle from beneath hidden shelf) … wrap your tongue around this one!
Altogether, a patron had somewhere between 600-800 drams of whisky to filter through in 48 hours.
As did their liver.
Of course, there was recommended show etiquette.
Spit, don’t swallow.
Drink lots of water—hell, bring your own IV pole if it’s not too unwieldy.
And if you are officially documented by the patrolling Security Stewards to have asked more than three exhibitors for their hand in marriage, the last one has the right to hold you responsible for their children’s college fund.
Gamble as you may.
One of the most challenging aspects of the festival was to reel in the participants, convince them that Reservoir’s whiskies stood head and shoulder above most others because we were not a carbon copy of the vast menu list available.
We source our own ingredients.
We pride ourselves on those ingredients being local.
Our process is different, our distillate is unique, our people are unprecedented and, for Pete’s sake, every day we festoon our bosses’ office doors with balloons and thank you notes because we just frickin’ love working here!
PLEASE JUST COME TASTE OUR WHISKIES!
In truth, we may not have sounded quite so desperate, but you get my point. You have to stand out. And not in a gimmicky way. You have to present them with something that’s memorable, that’s meaningful, that matters.
You have to make them want to take you home in a bag.
Okay, that did not come out right, but again you get my point.
It was an opportunity to meet people who love whisky and who make whisky from every corner of the Earth. To share what we’ve made, to learn from others, and to come home filled to the brim with the vim and vigor of pursuing our future.
We also came home smelling a little bit of fish, but that’s somewhat irrelevant.
We travel the world with our wares. Sometimes we come to you. Sometimes you come to us. Most importantly, we come together, our spirits aligned.
Now, agreeing whether you want to make monthly payments to the university or just one lump sum is where we might diverge, but we can always work that out over a dram or two.
Shelley Sackier--Director of Distillery Education