A SCOTCH whisky collectors’ club which is building a name for its collaborations with Scottish artists is aspiring to double in size this year.

Edinburgh-based Caskshare offers enthusiasts the opportunity to acquire “unique and interesting” whiskies from distilleries across Scotland and further afield, with prices ranging from £75 all the way up to £3,000 per bottle.

The company has several thousand customers and is gearing up to expand its international footprint significantly. It recently established websites in the US and European Union which allow people to purchase whisky in their local currencies and receive products promptly through relationships with partners in those territories.

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Crucially, the new arrangements ensure customs hold-ups are avoided and duty is applied at the local level, overcoming some of the logistical barriers which had arisen because of Brexit.

Caskshare, which is majority owned by co-founders Bill Dobbie and David Nicol, is led by managing director John Robertson, who arrived at the company from Whyte & Mackay a little more than a year ago.

Mr Robertson, who can also call on the counsel of Alasdair Day, co-owner of Isle of Raasay Distiller and shareholder of Caskshare, said the firm’s international growth will necessitate the recruitment of two more people to support that ambition, adding to its current team of five.

Asked what the company’s aims are for the second half of this year, Mr Robertson told The Herald: “(To) continue to bring really unique and interesting whisky to customers that they want to buy. In this financial climate, we are an early-stage business [and] we need to manage the bottom line very closely and make sure our marketing spend is driving as many customers as we can, and we are as lean and as effective as we can be in this market.

“And international growth. We have got logistics in the EU and the US all set up. No matter where you are you can access this great, unique, and interesting liquid and pay in your local currency and have it shipped to you very conveniently by our local partners.

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“We are trying to more than double the turnover of the business this year. We are pushing for £1.5 million of turnover.”

Mr Robertson said Caskshare, which originally started life as a whisky mail order business, continually looks for and assesses new and unusual whiskies that it hopes can capture the imaginations of collectors.

Some of the whiskies it sells are from Scotland’s new and up-and-coming distilleries but equally it deals in gems from long-established producers such as Springbank, Macallan and Highland Park. It also casts its eye further afield, offering whiskies from Sweden and Israel, and is looking to add Indian whiskey to its roster.

Mr Robertson said: “Our consumers tend to be really passionate about whisky. They want to try the closest thing to tasting the whisky directly from the cask and that is what we give them access to. They might be buying to collect as well.

“One slight nuance with our model is that you can buy into whisky from maturing casks as well as product that has bottled. We have worked with many new up-and-coming Scottish distilleries to allow customers to buy whisky before it has been bottled. We have worked with the likes of [Isle of] Raasay, which are a relatively new distillery. We have worked with Holyrood Distillery in Edinburgh.

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“We have certainly seen an influx of new distilleries, certainly over the last five years. It keeps everyone on their toes. They are all having to market their product in unique ways.

"It keeps things interesting for us. As someone that pulls together a mix of product from a lot of different distilleries it allows us to offer our customers [whiskies from] new distilleries, some things they have never heard of, but also things that they are very familiar with.”

As well as striving to offer whiskies that pique the interest of its members, Caskshare invests to ensure its packaging makes a big impact.

It has begun collaborating with renowned Scottish artists whom are commissioned to create bespoke designs for its bottlings.

A depiction of the old ABC cinema in Glasgow was recently provided by 95-year-old Glaswegian artist Thomas McGoran for a bottling of Auchentoshan 33-year-old. More recently the prolific Scottish artist Gordon Mitchell supplied the artwork for a Highland Park 35-year-old finished in an Oloroso sherry octave.

Mr Robertson said the aim of the collaborations is to ensure the “incredible” liquids Caskshare is selling are presented in ways that look “unique and collectible”.

“We are trying to create a unique and interesting proposition for our customers and do things a bit differently,” he said. “By bottling our own products, it allows us to really play with the artistry with all these unique and interesting distilleries and do things in a slightly different way.

“All of our releases come partnered with a unique piece of art that we commission. We want customers to be really delighted when they receive our bottles in the mail.”

Caskshare is this month holding a series of tasting events at its luxury private room at Manor Place in Edinburgh, where whisky lovers can sample bottlings such as a Macallan 30, Springbank 30, Highland Park 35, and a Glenrothes 31.


What countries have you most enjoyed travelling to, for business or leisure, and why?

I love visiting countries where my normal is challenged. I've travelled between India and Nepal and was blown away by how culturally unique and fascinating these countries are, including an experience where one of my friends had their dinner stolen by a cow in a restaurant. 

When you were a child, what was your ideal job? Why did it appeal?

I did want to be a snooker player at a very young age as I loved playing. As much as my snooker career never took off, I've tried hard to form a career out of things that I thoroughly enjoy doing. 

What was your biggest break in business?

I was fortunate enough to be accepted on to the Saltire Fellowship Programme in 2015, a fast track MBA-style programme that took place at Babson, the No 1 university for entrepreneurship in the US. It changed the way I viewed the world and encouraged me to take my first steps into starting my own business.

What was your worst moment in business?

Something you don't learn in business school are the hard decisions that you need to take in business and those decisions that impact people's jobs have been the toughest. 

Who do you most admire and why? 

My family for sticking by my career path through the good times and the bad. 

What book are you reading and what music are you listening to?
I'm currently listening to Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller & The Founders Tale (The story of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society) by Pip Hills. 

I listen to electronic music when exercising and classical music when winding down in the evening.