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Shetland whisky - update

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Shetland whisky - update

Postby Sally Toms » Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:23 am

Blackwood Distillers is looking to convert a former RAF base on Unst into its new whisky distillery. Developers hope to buy the site at Saxa Vord from the Ministry of Defence.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Jun 08, 2006 1:07 am

This constitutes a complete site change, and an enormous setback timewise. Were there problems with the Catfirth site? I recall that there had been some revision there due to environmental concerns or similar. The whole project is now years behind the original timetable. Don't look for information on the Blackwoods website though; it hasn't been updated in many months.

Mr Blackwood, if you're out there, how can we take you seriously or care what you're doing when you don't bother to take the time to tell an interested public what's going on?
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Postby Jan » Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:30 am

Yeah, I think the reasons for moving the site seems a little unclear. But as I understand it, the difference is that they now can modify some fairly modern buildings to their purpose, as opposed to building them from scratch. So perhaps the setback timewise is not that great?

You can read a bit more on this at the Shetland news; Here's an article covering it.

Cheers
Jan
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Jun 10, 2006 6:14 pm

Mr. T. it's a woman in charge of the project.....I read about it in WM, many years ago now it seems.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Jun 11, 2006 2:27 am

Yes, Caroline Whitfield. But there is indeed a Mr Blackwood, described on the website as "legal guru"--I imagine he's a major investor to get his name on the label--and in fact, he addressed us here once. You might recall that I was musing on the name, since there is pretty much no wood in Shetland. I was hoping he might be looking in now and then.
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Postby Lawrence » Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:39 pm

I missed that point, thanks,

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Shetland Distillery

Postby wandering pict » Thu Aug 10, 2006 9:21 pm

There is indeed a Mr Blackwood, who happens to be Caroline's husband. Having met her she is a very enthusiastic person, who is commited to Shetland and is trying to do everything right for the Islanders. The plans are progressing and there should be production starting next year, all the planning issues hopefully resolved. I know that she is also commited to a good quality spirit so I for one am looking forward to trying it
:D
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Re: Shetland Distillery

Postby dram_time » Tue Aug 22, 2006 5:21 am

wandering pict wrote:There is indeed a Mr Blackwood, who happens to be Caroline's husband. Having met her she is a very enthusiastic person, who is commited to Shetland and is trying to do everything right for the Islanders. The plans are progressing and there should be production starting next year, all the planning issues hopefully resolved. I know that she is also commited to a good quality spirit so I for one am looking forward to trying it
:D



My I ask....

Did you invest ???

I thought about it, But I think they are going to rely to heavily upon supermarket trade.

Dt
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Re: Shetland Distillery

Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Aug 22, 2006 5:47 am

dram_time wrote:Did you invest ???

I thought about it, But I think they are going to rely to heavily upon supermarket trade.

Dt


That's an interesting thought, and it makes sense, considering the market presence they have created with their vodka and gin. I shouldn't think it would put you off investing at all--it strikes me as a very savvy idea, from a marketing and financial point of view. Findiing a market for a new malt is an iffy prospect at best, and if Blackwood whisky is suddenly on all the supermarket shelves in six or eight years' time, then they will be well ahead of the game. Do you have some particular reason to believe that this is indeed their strategy?
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blackwoods

Postby dram_time » Tue Aug 22, 2006 7:19 pm

MrTattieHeid,


I did get a couple of news updates from them regarding the share scheme, which I don’t seem to have any more, and I seem to recall that they were wanting to pitch for tesco’s own brand whisky.

Not a bad idea, but supermarkets can drop suppliers just like that (have seen it happen with fish factories), with out too much notice. Their vodka drink seems to be going well, but it is its own brand and can be sold any where. I think relying on selling whisky branded as a ‘supermarket own brand’ is a risky business, because when some one else offers them a whisky that’s cheaper, that’s where they will buy. I also think they will have huge costs from building converting etc..And feel it would be very risky if they do indeed rely on getting an ‘own brand’ deal.

Plus, Shetland is a long way from the mainland and with transport costs rising weekly, its going to cost a fortune just to get the stuff to the mainland.

Also at £8.00 a share (they originally wanted £12.00), for a company, that as yet has no distillery on Shetland, I think is a bit much. Diageo trades at around £9.30 and is a drinks Giant.

So, to sum up then, I don’t see too much to make me want to put any money into them. Just yet that is.

Cheers

Dt
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ummm

Postby dram_time » Tue Aug 22, 2006 7:26 pm

The more i think about it, it might have been vodka they were wanting to pitch as an own brand, but realy not sure too now??

either way, i thought it was too risky a deal for me.

Dt.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Aug 22, 2006 8:15 pm

Understood...it's a risky business in any case, not one I would pick for investing my pension money; more just for the fun of saying I have a share in something I love. I for one certainly don't have any great amount of spare cash lying around for such! Ain't no such thing as "spare cash", anyway.
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Investing in Shetland

Postby wandering pict » Thu Aug 24, 2006 6:23 am

Haven't invested but considering doing so. Malt whisky prices are rising and these products will have unique provenance thereby enhancing their value. Having met Caroline I am convinced of her genuineness and drive to create high quality products.

:)
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Shetland.

Postby dram_time » Fri Aug 25, 2006 6:18 am

I had heard she has an infectious personality !!!

How do they justify building a new whisky distillery that far from the mainland??

Its great for the island and its people and I wish them the best of luck, I really do, but I can not see the reasoning behind putting it all the way up there, except for the fact that there is not one there yet already???

There is plenty of space, peat, clean water, great scenery etc on the north west coast, and no distilleries. Why not put it there ?? and save transport costs at the same time.

If they built the place in Thurso, imagine how much money they would save by not having to pay transport costs to Shetland.

I just don’t get it.

Dt
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Aug 25, 2006 1:21 pm

What's to get? It will be whisky from Shetland. Who wants whisky from Thurso? There's already whisky from Wick that no one much seems to want.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Fri Aug 25, 2006 2:00 pm

Well immediate Island Whisky status can't be a bad thing either and they are closer to Norway for handy exporting :wink:
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:12 pm

:D That's a very good point Adrian! I for one welcome a shetland distillery!

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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:37 pm

I foresee shopping trips on Smyril Line....
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Shetland again.

Postby dram_time » Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:43 pm

I too welcome a distillery in Shetland, but for INVESTMENT purposes, it’s not such a safe bet that’s all.

If they offered a scheme like Arran did then I would definitely be interested in supplying cash up front, at least I would get something back for my money(in fact I have a bottle of Arran founders reserve on the shelf) I just think they are trying to run before they can walk. Its good to be ambitious, but you have to realistic.

Best of luck to them and I hope I regret not investing in them. Their malt may even become my favourite in years to come (I like coastal/island malts) and I wish them all the best.

Dt.
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Re: Shetland again.

Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:56 pm

dram_time wrote:I too welcome a distillery in Shetland, but for INVESTMENT purposes, it’s not such a safe bet that’s all.


I don't think any distillery start-up is a safe bet. As I said before, such investment will probably be done for reasons other than the expectation of a steady return. Go with your gut.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:53 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:I foresee shopping trips on Smyril Line....

Yes, I'd love to! I've heard a lot of good things about Shetland - from your earlier posts also - so it's very tempting.

Christian
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Postby Onefortheditch » Sat Dec 09, 2006 1:15 am

I've been visiting Shetland every year for a long time now. It's a really nice place and the people are really nice too.

However the ones I've spoken to think this distillery is a bit of a con. Tourists have come looking for it, but it doesn't exist yet. :?:
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Dec 09, 2006 11:41 am

I'm going to stick my neck out a bit here and it will no doubt come back to haunt me - but I don't think that there will be a Blackwood whisky distillery on Shetland.
To my mind, there has been too much talk and precious little action. It is a nice marketing idea to bet Blackwood's name in the frame and they've sold a load of "Shetland" Gin on the back of it. But setting up a distillery is a significant step up.
We can see the effort that went into setting up Kilchoman and it produces only a small amount of whisky. I really doubt the financial viability of setting up a new distillery on Shetland and I'd suggest that serious investors would not consider it a worthwhile risk.

My heart supports the idea, but my head say no - it ain't going to happen.
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Postby dram_time » Sun Dec 10, 2006 11:21 am

Crieftan wrote:I'm going to stick my neck out a bit here and it will no doubt come back to haunt me - but I don't think that there will be a Blackwood whisky distillery on Shetland.
To my mind, there has been too much talk and precious little action. It is a nice marketing idea to bet Blackwood's name in the frame and they've sold a load of "Shetland" Gin on the back of it. But setting up a distillery is a significant step up.
We can see the effort that went into setting up Kilchoman and it produces only a small amount of whisky. I really doubt the financial viability of setting up a new distillery on Shetland and I'd suggest that serious investors would not consider it a worthwhile risk.

My heart supports the idea, but my head say no - it ain't going to happen.


That sums up my sentiment on the Shetland project as well, the costs of getting stuff there and back must be astronomical. Reading Alfred Barnard, you can’t fail to notice that most distilleries were sited near or next to a rail line or waterway for easy transport. A new distillery would be better sited in the lowlands or on the west coast, north of Kyle of Lochalsh, all that Atlantic air and salt !!! bit of a gale blowing now, my house must be about 900m from the sea and the windows are caked in salt!

Good luck to them though, I see they have recruited some big-wig from Diageo just lately to the management team. May be we are both wrong??

Dt.
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Postby Wendy » Sun Dec 10, 2006 3:45 pm

Hello,
I know very little about this subject, but this newspaper article came my way and I thought others following this thread would find it interesting:

http://www.shetland-news.co.uk/pages/ne ... istmas.htm

Cheers,
Wendy
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Postby Jan » Sun Dec 10, 2006 5:41 pm

Thank you for the link Wendy.

Interesting to know that the plans are still on, if somewhat delayed. (If the article is to be believed.)

A line struck me as a bit implausible though:

The Shetland News wrote:She added that the first shipment would be matured over winter for release in spring. Options on the first bottles have already been sold for many hundreds of pounds.


Surely it must be options on the first bottles distilled at the upcoming distillery - not on a vatted whisky stored at the island for a few months?!?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Dec 10, 2006 5:52 pm

I agree with you Jan.
The main question I have is - why bother? Simply moving whisky to Shetland for vatting will not influence the whisky is the slightest and the logiostical costs involve are stupid.
What whiskies have gone into the vatting? Is it a single or blended malt?
Having I read the article a second time, I'm less and less convinced by the set up. It seems to be all about pushing the idea and even less about getting sleeves rolled up and actually making whisky!
White Elephant comes to mind :(
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Dec 10, 2006 5:59 pm

An interesting scheme, if I understand it right. Presumably the vatted whisky is already of age, and is being finished in new casks in Shetland. Will then be marketed as "Old Lerwick" or "Cursed In Unst" or some such. I see it as a stop-gap measure to get whisky out under their name, maybe a bit like Glentromie. I'm not so sure it's a great idea, as it will color people's perception of Shetland whisky for years to come. But there won't be any Shetland-produced whisky for years yet, at least, so getting some product out may not be a bad thing. Arran was producing a blend for a while before their stuff was ready.

As for the prospect of a real distillery, I guess the only attitude to take is "I'll believe it when I see it." I don't like to be cynical, but I don't think the folks involved have done nearly enough to allay these kinds of thoughts. And I note just now that I am unable to access their website to see if there have been any updates. Last I saw, there had been nothing new for many months.

Oh, as for transport--yes, probably very expensive, but also probably no worse logistically than what is dealt with in Islay. The ferry runs from Aberdeen every day, so getting malt from Aberdeenshire would probably be not much worse than Bruichladdich getting theirs from Inverness. Hell, half the stuff surrounding me here in the Midden Heap was made in China; transport seems the least of the problems.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Dec 10, 2006 6:05 pm

As to "why bother?", Crieftan, so they can market whisky matured in Shetland. I actually see it as a good sign, as far as their intent is concerned. No, it will not be much influenced by local conditions, but you know that I think that is overstated, anyway. It's all marketing. Likely they hope to sell it locally to tourists in the summer, to get out the idea that there is indeed Shetland whisky.

I do hope, for their sake, that it's better than Glentromie.
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Postby vitara7 » Sun Dec 10, 2006 10:00 pm

i dont think personally either that a fully functioning distillery will be opened up by them on shetlands.

theyve got shed loads of free or very cheap advertising to build there brand, i do however see this shipping casks up and maturing them for a bit up there to continue, and i feel thats as close as one will become.
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Postby The Fachan » Sun Dec 10, 2006 11:31 pm

Folks,

Maybe I am being a little picky but to mature 3yo+ whisky on the island hardly means it can call itself Shetland Whisky. The large majority of maturation has occured on the mainland somwhere.
Maybe its a blended malt but still hardly reason to be a Shetland Whisky.
I would suggest they give a little thought to the label before bottling.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Dec 11, 2006 12:29 am

I'm sure they will...I imagine the label will read "partially matured in Shetland" or some such, as well as "Blackwood--the Shetland Whisky Co" or similar.

All this blether on our part, with none of us really knowing anything, is exactly why they are doing themselves a disservice by not being more forthcoming. One is left with the impression that they have nothing to report. I'm trying really hard to be charitable here.
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Postby The Fachan » Mon Dec 11, 2006 12:33 am

Mr. T,

I fell exactly the same as many of the people that have posted before me in that I want them to prove me wrong and produce, but the longer it goes on one begins to wonder..
Why bring the whisky to Shetland in the first place??? Label it and sell it. The liquid in the vodka and gin was never in Shetland.
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Postby Admiral » Mon Dec 11, 2006 3:46 am

Maybe I am being a little picky but to mature 3yo+ whisky on the island hardly means it can call itself Shetland Whisky. The large majority of maturation has occured on the mainland somwhere.


That hasn't stopped Diageo calling Caol Ila (and even some Lagavulin) "Islay whisky", despite the fact it's entirely aged on the mainland! :cry:

Cheers,
AD
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Dec 11, 2006 3:56 am

Okay...but Mr Picky says at least Caol Ila was made in Islay. So the real point is that it isn't Shetland whisky because it wasn't made in Shetland. And we are dealing with a straw man here, because we are supposing that they are going to try somehow to call it Shetland whisky. We don't have any idea how they intend to label it; we are only guessing. But I am sure they will have to be careful. There are things they simply can't get away with in that regard, so there's no sense in us being outraged over it.
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