I caught WhiskyFest Chicago in 2017 (and I will do WhiskyFest 2018 in Chicago, D.C. and NYC) and it was an eye opener to many of the new brands flooding the market. The boom in whiskey is running wild right now from Scotland to Japan to Canada and all over America. There was this old association with Scotch for example, where you thought of old guys smoking cigars in a cherry wood wainscoted room laughing at the aristocrat joking and talking about how much money they make in the stock market.
Those old stereotypes have fallen.
And this brings me to John Drew Brands. When I first discovered their whiskey, I was at WhiskyFest Chicago and I heard music. No, not bagpipes. I heard some bass. I heard some legit NYC hip-hop. It may have been M.O.P. Ante Up or Mobb Deep Shook Ones, I don’t recall but they had the right playlist right that night. And I started thinking, these guys are onto something so I got in the line. I saw a couple of Brooklyn guy’s husting their product including the Toasted Oak Rye which our group enjoyed very much. They were New York guys, looking New York, sounding New York, just hustling with some good drinks, swag and great music.
Very different than everyone else that tries to paint some picture of an old distillery in Ireland or Scotland or some crazy back story on how their grandad ran liquor in the mountains in Kentucky during prohibition. This was a fun whiskey brand, it was modern, it was hip in the sense of the streets, not hipsters. When you meet John you see authenticity. You see a straight NYC hustler that was on the grind trying to make his companies grow. Where I came from, I have to appreciate that because so much of growing up where I did, was hustling and trying to make a buck on the streets. See their brand is not stuffy, not uptight, not boring, not bland, not uninteresting….
Authentic. Fun. Street. Modern. A Party.
9 times out of 10 if I am drinking whiskey, I am listening to hip-hop or EDM. The John Drew Rye is one where you want to turn on some M.O.P., some old Jay-Z or even the Biohazard guys from Brooklyn (don’t you remember Tales from the dark side or Judgment Night with Onyx? No? GO look those up!) and sip some whiskey. When you think of lifestyle brands, John Drew is such a different lifestyle than what you see in the whiskey world.
They are true marketers at heart with the swag and you see fans line up at WhiskyFest to meet John because he really is a celebrity in a room full of brands that have been around for 100+ years. When you’re at WhiskyFest hit the John Drew booth and try the Toasted Oak Rye and other offerings. Look for the Irish looking guy with a flat cap on that looks you don’t want to F with and ask him for a sticker for your glass. It is a WhiskyFest honor to have the small pewter like colored sticker added to your WhiskyFest glass. That’s some of the best marketing I have seen.
I have met John a few times at the WhiskyFest events and you can tell he just has that animal ambition. You see some people sitting in chairs and chilling, John is in the crowd shaking hands, taking photos with fans and giving out swag. As an entrepreneur, I enjoy people like this, you have to applicate a true hustler. Welcome to the new world of whisky, people like John Drew are bringing a different vibe to the scene, a much-needed vibe.
Wine had its time, vodka had its time, and beer had its time. Right now, whiskey is having its turn. Whiskey is now hip and for all ages. Neat, on lots of little rocks or one big rock, in a manhattans or old fashioned, whiskey is in and breaking down barriers. Hell, when is the last time you heard someone order a Rob Roy?
When you want a whiskey that is fairly priced and you want to associate with a brand that has a different lifestyle vibe, check out John Drew Brands.
Written by James Philip
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