Whisky enthusiast, collector and show organiser Mahesh Patel is about to become an independent bottler with the launch of four whiskies under the Sirius name. All four – two malts and two grains – are high quality, super premium releases and The Whisky Shop will be stocking them. So I asked Mahesh what Sirius is all about.
DR: Please tell me about Sirius?
MP: Sirius is all about my travels around whisky. It brings together my love for whisky and my search to find the best whiskies the World has to offer. I am trying to bring these very limited whiskies to share with fellow whisky lovers. That’s why all my whiskies will be all natural and straight from the cask.
DR: Why did a whisky fan decide to turn in to an independent bottler?
MP: After 25 years of enjoying and collecting some of the finest whiskies, I decided that it was time for me to share my passion through the liquid itself. What I mean is that I have tried and collected many whiskies, but I wanted something unique and different, so I started searching for whiskies that were still maturing in casks, which I could bottle and enjoy, but most of all share with others.
DR: You have gone for the top end of the market. Why?
MP: Well, I wanted to have a very boutique product that reflected my experiences, which involve the rare and high end whiskies. There are many independent bottlers out there producing some great whiskies, but many do not cater for the older, rare end of the market. I understand this area well, so that’s why I decided to focus at the top end. Plus I had a lot of fellow connoisseurs encourage me to pursue this, and they will support me.
DR: How much work went in to picking the casks and why these ones?
MP: A tremendous amount of work. As this was going to be a high-end whisky line I wanted to have the very best. I went through all the casks initially and got a small group of friends to help with the narrowing down of the selection. I sampled over 300 casks from not just one company, but several.
DR: Why two grains, cask strength and of such age?
MP: I personally feel that single grain whiskies and particularly aged ones have been totally overlooked by the whisky world. I have known for a while that these whiskies have great merit, and had to create a range of aged single grains in my brand. I feel that this is going to be one of the new trends in the whisky world and I want to be a part of this, because I strongly believe in the product.
DR:. How did you set about pricing them?
MP: As you know the liquids that we are bottling are all very old, rare and limited in quantity, which when you purchase from a distillery, come at a high sticker price. I also felt that when you have a product of this high calibre it has to be presented equivalently, so I decided to make the bottle and packing very premium also. I have spent a lot of time and money developing this line plus all our first release products are limited in quantity, so the pricing is reflective of this.
DR:. Who are they aimed at?
MP: These whiskies are aimed at connoisseurs of premium whiskies, collectors and whisky investors, as this whiskies will appreciate in value, simply due to their rarity.
DR: Are they attracting interest already?
MP: We have done a series of tasting around the United States as well as having them at the last Nth – (Ultimate Whisky experience this march in Las Vegas). The response has been fantastic. Each expression has got it followers, but I was very pleased with the positive reception of the single aged grains, even from hard core single malt drinkers.
DR: All the whiskies are from one company. will that change in the future and how are you going about sourcing more casks, how often do you think you might release them, and have you already identified future casks?
MP: Yes the first release casks were bought from one company, but they are all different distilleries. This will change as I have already bought and put away a small quantity of casks for future releases, including grains. I am actively sourcing casks from all over the world, through my contact in the industry. My current goal is to release something every 15 to 18 months and yes, I have identified one or two gems for future release.
DR: Demand for whisky is very high at the moment, putting pressure on supply. How will you ensure you get stock for future releases?
MP: You are absolutely right – demand is high and scouring casks is very hard. But I am a boutique producer in search of the high-end stuff, so I am able to negotiate with different companies to buy a few from their stock – after a lot of persuasion!
DR: You’re becoming a big name in high end whisky – what are you planning in the next 12 months?
MP: I have many plans, but in the near future I want to grow the Sirius range and place it on a world platform as a uber-premium independent bottler of fine whiskies. We will continue to develop the whisky show and I will be launching some new concept whisky soon.
DR: And what are your aims for Sirius going forward?
MP: Well as I mentioned above I want to grow Sirius into a very luxury premium boutique brand.