Diageo defends its ‘craft’ Bourbon credentials

18th July, 2014 by Amy Hopkins

Diageo has defended its right to market its products as “craft spirits”, arguing that “not all small distilleries are craft, and not all craft distilleries are small”.

Orphan-Barrel-Whiskey-Distilling-Company

Diageo has defended its right to play in the “craft” whiskey sector, despite being the world’s biggest drinks group

The UK drinks giant experienced criticism when it launched its Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company – a programme which bottles “forgotten whiskies” and markets the product under a new identity.

Upon the launch of the programme late last year, Larry Schwartz, president of Diageo North America, declared to investors at a conference: “We’re going to be the number one craft distiller in North American whiskey in the US. Why? Because we have the whiskies.”

Although there is no binding legal definition of craft whiskey in the US, a number of commentators argued that whiskey owned by a company such as Diageo – the world’s largest alcoholic drinks group – could not be constituted as craft.

However Ewan Moran, master of whiskey for Orphan Barrel, told The Spirits Business that the “conversations and debates” surrounding craft were what made the sector “so interesting”.

“As for what is or isn’t a ‘craft spirit’, that’s up for debate and can vary across categories such as single malts and Bourbons,” he said.

“Everyone has their own opinion and should have the right to voice it, just like all those in the business have the right to be creative and innovative with the products they sell.

“Craft is about artisanship, passion, experience, great liquid, great products. Not all small distilleries are craft, and not all craft distilleries are small.

Moran added that he believes the lack of official definition in the craft sector is a “good thing” and that the “best parts of distilling have always been flexibility and innovation”.

He also said that while Orphan Barrel was not directly working with other craft whiskey distillers, then project could lead the project to work with “dozens of other distilleries around the world”.

Three whiskeys have so-far been released through the Orphan Barrel programme – Barterhouse, Old Blowhard and, most recently, Rhetoric.

The Spirits Business recently reported that two noted US craft distillers, Lance Winters from St George Spirits, and Chip Tate from Balcones, do not believe an official, legal definition for craft spirits would not be “beneficial to the sector”.

For a more comprehensive overview of issues surrounding the production of craft spirits, see the July issue of The Spirits Business.

2 Responses to “Diageo defends its ‘craft’ Bourbon credentials”

  1. Charles says:

    Wow. What utter bunk. I may have to avoid all Diageo products now.

  2. Mike says:

    You have fun with that, Charles.

Leave a Reply

If that's interesting, how about these?

Brown-Forman bolsters TR whiskey line for IAADFS

Brown-Forman Global Travel Retail has launched recent brand development more...

Tristan Stephenson joins Lidl's spirits team

Famed bartender and author Tristan Stephenson, co-founder of London’s Worship more...

Breakthru Beverage restructures leadership team

Breakthru Beverage Group has announced a new leadership structure for its more...

How will Brexit affect Irish spirits producers?

As the Article 50 trigger date draws closer, The Spirits Business considers how more...

Top 5 bars in... Aspen

A snowy paradise for some of the world’s wealthiest skiers, Aspen is also more...

Adnams hails 66% spirits volume growth

Suffolk-based brewer, distiller and retailer Adnams witnessed 66% volume sales more...

ProWein 2017 attracts record numbers

Düsseldorf trade fair ProWein closed its doors yesterday after attracting more...

Berry Good launches Cofaidh Liqueur

Artisan producer Berry Good is to launch Scotland's 'first' cold brew coffee more...

Diageo unveils 'industry first' e-learning tool

Diageo has launched a new e-learning tool on its responsible drinking website more...

Unmissable exhibitors at IAADFS 2017

For the final IAADFS Duty Free Show of the Americas in its current form, taking more...

Distell and Stock Spirits ink UK distribution deal

Central and Eastern European producer Stock Spirits has expanded its more...

Rum's renaissance 'a complex picture of growth'

Rum might be the last spirit category to truly go premium, but there’s more...

Southern Glazer’s hires Redell for Campari brands

US drinks distribution company Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits has appointed more...

Irish Spirits Association hails distillery sales bill

Trade body the Irish Spirits Association (ISA) has hailed a new bill that will more...

SWA hails £30bn Scottish trade ambition

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has welcomed a new strategy by the Scottish more...

UK bars to cut booze prices on Tax Equality Day

Thousands of bars and restaurants across the UK will slash their prices by 7.5% more...

Devils River Whiskey debuts with grain focus

President of the Texas Distilled Spirits Council Mike Cameron has launched more...

St Patrick's Day with Jameson in pictures

Irish whiskey brand Jameson invited journalists, writers, bloggers and more...

Oregon spirits producer buys craft bottler

Oregon-based Eastside Distilling has acquired third party craft spirits more...

WSET welcomes Berry Bros as newest patron

Berry Bros & Rudd has signed up to support the Wine & Spirit Education Trust as more...