There are many ways of launching a new spirits brand. Varying business models differ in execution, but share a similar goal – generate enough revenue to stay in business. These models come in many forms: the “non-distiller producer (NDP)” route; the “I like ’em young” (unaged) route; the “sir speedy” (small barrels or state-of-the-art gimmicks) route; the “wait for it” route; and the “exit through the gift shop” route – to name a few. Some upstarts may even focus on a combination of said models. While we’re not saying there is an absolute wrong of launching a whiskey brand, we will iterate a precautious word immortalized by a famous shampoo company: you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
We recently had a chance to chat with Jason Eskind, Chief Manager at Capital Distilling Co., home of one of the latest whiskey launches – Cumberland Cask Tennessee Straight Whiskey. Jason’s knowledge of American Whiskey (and the industry surrounding it) far surpasses his years. He shared with the Trail how he is reclaiming a family brand by rectifying (sourcing) a whiskey he feels represents the pre-prohibition style. By the turn of 20th century, a great deal of brands in the industry were rectified spirits. Four generations removed from Manual Eskind, Jason has set out to resurrect a vestige of family heritage.
With a mash bill of 70% corn, 25% rye, and 5% malted barley, this first batch is composed of barrels aged between 6.5 and 8.5 years. There are two offerings of Cumberland Cask: the Modern Expression and the Barrel Cut. The Modern Expression weighs in at 80 proof, while the Barrel Cut is 120 proof. With the only difference being percent alcohol, these offerings lend themselves to being tasted side-by-side… and doing so provides the imbiber an educational opportunity to discover the nuances between the two, both similar and contrasting.
The branding and packaging is beautiful and worthy of mentioning. Even whiskey novices will recognize the bottle’s silhouette as being a dead ringer for Eagle Rare and the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. The image depicts a vintage map of the state of Tennessee askew, with a cask of whiskey pouring out to form the Cumberland River – the primary mode of imports/exports in Manuel Eskind’s day.
Both expressions of Cumberland Cask hit store shelves in October of 2013 and is currently only available in the mid-TN market. Retail cost is clocking in around $30 and $40 for the Modern Expression and Barrel Cut respectively… and as Chris Chamberlain at the Nashville Scene noted, that is a linear dollar-per-proof relationship. A fair deal for the consumer if you ask us.
Jason is focused and entrepreneurial. He idolizes the late Lincoln Henderson (of Brown-Forman and Angel’s Envy fame) and has studied his career. His strong business since leads us at the Trail to think we’ve only seen the beginning. We anticipate big things happening for Capital Distilling Co. in the coming years. Keep an eye on these guys. Pick up a bottle and let us know what you think. We got a good first impression.