Source: BrewDog

BrewDog: beer pioneers “frustrated” at state of the Scotch market

BrewDog has unveiled a slew of new spirits spanning whisky, gin and vodka under its BrewDog Distilling brand.

It launched Rogue Wave single malt vodka (40% abv) and Zealot’s Heart gin (44% abv), which will sit at a slightly higher price point than its existing Lone Wolf spirits, at its AGM in Aberdeen this weekend.

It has also teamed up with three other distillers for a trio of ‘Boilermaker’ collaborative drams designed to pair with BrewDog’s beers.

They are: Transistor, made with Compass Box and designed to pair with Punk IPA; Skeleton Key, a peated whisky made with Duncan Taylor to pair with BrewDog’s Jet Black Heart stout; and Torpedoed Tulip, a rye whisky made with Zuidam Distillers to pair with Dead Pony Club ale.

Transistor will be the first to hit national retail - The Grocer has learned BrewDog has signed a deal with Waitrose to exclusively stock the drink.

BrewDog wanted “to establish our credentials in this space with disruptors and people who share our same philosophy”, its co-founder James Watt told The Grocer, ahead of the launch of BrewDog’s first single malt whiskies later this year.

“Beer is omnipresent for us,” added co-founder Martin Dickie. “The thing for us when we came into spirits was our slight frustration in the Scotch market. They think a Christmas label is innovation. Or David Beckham. So for us the real excitement is to shake that up.”

‘Brewer’s approach’ to spirits

“Scotland might have been making whisky for 300 years, but that process wasn’t perfected 200 years ago,” said Dickie. “At what point was that the pinnacle of what whisky can be?

“The thing with distilling specifically is people get caught up in the actual distillation as opposed to the first half of the process which is equally important - making the wash, which you then distil, and being brewers that’s the part that we know as bread and butter.

Source: BrewDog

Zealots’ Heart and Rogue Wave vodka were unveiled this weekend

“We’re super spoiled in this respect. In a lot of distilleries the stills are the focal point and the stuff at the back of the house, how you make the wash that goes into them, is a bit of an afterthought - as long as there’s alcohol in it they will distil and make a credible spirit. We treat the wash as if it’s beer.

“There are simple off-flavours in beer like diacetyl, acetaldehyde or dimethyl sulfide. And I guess this is the other difference between beer and spirits – the way it’s talked about. In beer it’s very cut and dry and scientific, but in the Scotch or wine industry they’re quite artistic. They might call something a ‘butterscotch’ flavour but actually that’s acetaldehyde. There’s none of those off-flavours in our beers, so none in our wash, which gives us a great starting point when we’re making spirit.”

Certain whisky brands’ recent attempts to reinvigorate the category by targeting millennials were “inauthentic and f**ked up”, said Watt.

“F**k millennials. We don’t give a s**t who we’re talking to. That starting point of ‘how do we talk to millennials’ is so wrong and whatever you do from that is going to be so inauthentic and so f**ked up and nobody will give a damn.”

The news comes as BrewDog also announced this weekend a sixth round of ‘Equity For Punks’ crowdfunding. The brewer is targeting £7m, which will be used to finance the growth of its operations in Europe (it this week bought the Berlin brewing facility previously owned by US craft brewer Stone) and the development of a craft beer hotel in London.

Read more: can BrewDog shake up spirits the same way it has beer?