Life’s a Beach Whiskey
Writer / Janelle Morrison
Coming soon to a liquor store near you, the smooth and exceptional Beach Whiskey brand will be debuting “re-imagined” whiskey in the Indiana markets by the end of summer.
Beach Whiskey LLC Chief Executive Officer Smoke Wallin is a Carmel resident and is a well-known “serial entrepreneur.” Wallin is also CEO of Carmel-based Taliera. He has a successful track record in the beverage industry. He created Cameron Springs Company, the bottled water company that was eventually sold to Nestle Corporation in 2000.
Among many of his accomplishments, Wallin was the founder of eSkye.com, a software company designed specifically for the alcohol industry. eSkye.com ended up being the largest provider of winery production and sales software in the world and was headquartered in Carmel. It was sold to a publicly traded company from Canada in 2007.
Wallin received his BS in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University and his MBA from Vanderbilt Business School. He led the wine and spirits industry in Washington, D.C., as Chairman, President and Director of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) 1996-2004. He also served on the Government Affairs committee for the Craft Brewers Association. Wallin served the Young Presidents’ Organization as Chairman of the Global Beer Wine and Spirits Network for 2010-2013 and serves on the board for the Food and Beverage Network with over 1,700 CEOs.
The creation and launch of Beach Whiskey has Wallin and his co-founders excited for their “re-imagined” whiskey brand. Beach Whiskey, founded in 2015, was the collaboration of a group of entrepreneurs who represent the beverage, entertainment, lifestyle and business service industries.
The initial launch and rollout of Beach Whiskey Island Coconut and Beach Whiskey Bonfire Cinnamon will first appear in the Southern California and Florida markets, and according to Wallin, it should make its debut in the Indiana markets by late summer. Wallin and his co-founders ended up raising approximately $8.5 million in their Series A round. Prior to their launch, the Beach Whiskey Facebook page had well over 30,000 “Likes”. Beach Whiskey is produced in an old Seagram’s plant in Lawrenceburg, Ind., and bottled in Louisville, Ky.
“I’ve been working on lots of new brands over the years,” Wallin said. “I became interested in the whiskey category and began thinking of ways to re-imagine whiskey aside from traditional aged-whiskey that people sip on while lounging in their chair along with a cigar. I began to think of ways to make whiskey fun and relevant to today’s consumers, specifically on how to make it attractive to the next generation, Millennials.
“Co-founder Andrew McGinnis shared a story with me, prior to creating Beach Whiskey, where he had noticed the dusty whiskey bottles on the shelf at a beach club bar he frequented in Santa Monica. The vodka, rum and tequila bottles were perpetually flying off of the shelves, and he wondered why not the whiskey?
“We went to work on creating a new concept of whiskey that was made for the beach, for some fun in the sun and that would be relevant to the Millennial markets. My generation, Gen X, grew up in the shadow of the Baby Boomers and is a smaller generation by population. We didn’t mind drinking the volume brands that were out when we came of age. What I think makes the Millennials different and unique is that they are as big as the Baby Boomer generation. They have been brought up around technology and social media. They are savvy to having endless choices and how to access things quickly.
“We have followed the wine and craft beer trends over the years. The spirits industry has been grossly behind beer and wine until recently. We are not a huge conglomerate. We are an independent producer who has a different take on the market. I think that the timing has never been better to be innovative in creating new products, how we brand our products and how we reach our target markets in traditional and non-traditional ways. We have to connect in more natural and organic ways that make our consumers feel like they discovered us, and we have to make sure that we are positioned in a way that we can be discovered.”
Wallin has packaged the whiskey in a way that reflects the values of Beach Whiskey. The bright and colorful sea glass bottles reflects the company’s affection for the beach and its belief in sharing the responsibility for preserving the world’s water and beaches, while promoting a fun and relaxing beach lifestyle.
An official, unofficial Beach Whiskey Review:
After the interview, a couple of us were able to taste and review a bottle of Beach Whiskey Island Coconut at 26% abv (52 proof) and Beach Whiskey Bonfire Cinnamon at 35% abv (70 proof).
Included in this test group was the expertise of award-winning bartender David Hiner as part of the tasting team. Hiner is the bar manager for the Tap Room located in the lower level of the Carolina Grill in Zionsville.
We first sampled a pour of each flavor served neat and followed by a pour on the rocks. We then mixed each of the two flavors with a couple of the recommended mixed-cocktail recipes provided by Beach Whiskey.
“The Beach Whiskey Island Coconut has a clean and clear presentation with a starlight hue,” Hiner observed. “It is well-attenuated, well-balanced and smooth. On the nose, I got corn with subtle coconut. It is light bodied with a semi-sweet coconut finish. It is enjoyable served both neat or chilled. It does not have the traditional bite of some aged whiskey. It is smooth, making it palatable and more balanced in cocktails requiring a coconut presence.”
We sampled a Niu Kahakai, made with the Beach Whiskey Island Coconut, orange juice, agave nectar and orange bitters. It is shaken and served over ice. On the nose, it had a fresh, citrus bouquet. For those who enjoy fun cocktails served with brunch, this would be a fabulous alternative to the traditional screwdriver or rum punch.
Next on deck was the Beach Whiskey Bonfire Cinnamon. “On the nose, I got cinnamon rock candy,” Hiner enthused. “It has a star bright hue. It is quite enjoyable chilled. The cinnamon is subtle and works well as a supplement when building a mixed cocktail.”
We followed the preferred recipe for a Cinna-Mule. This spin on a classic summertime favorite is made with the Bonfire Cinnamon Beach Whiskey, ginger beer and lemon juice. It is shaken lightly and served over ice with a splash of club soda to top it off. It was the preferred pick of the night. It was crisp and fun and had a lovely finish.
“In my opinion,” Hiner concluded, “the Beach Whiskey brand has done an excellent job with the bottling and overall presentation of their brand. Each of the flavors has pleasurable features and exudes light, fun and summertime cocktails.”
For more, visit beachwhiskey.com.