Good George opens doors to Kiwi whisky entrepreneurs

Good George opens doors to Kiwi whisky entrepreneurs

Good George has unveiled its eagerly anticipated whisky program called The People’s Cut, the first of its kind in New Zealand.

The program gives whisky lovers an opportunity to own or have a share in their very own barrel of whisky, cultivating a unique flavour profile and reaping the financial rewards in as few as five years – the minimal barrel ageing time for a world-class, single malt whisky.

With craft whisky currently riding a wave of popularity across the globe, the People’s Cut makes it easy for Kiwis to jump on this international trend and develop a custom product without the pricey set-up.

Co-founder and in-house whisky maker, Brian Watson says “People are eager to learn and get hands-on but, with whisky, it’s not quite as easy as having a home brew set-up in the garage.”  

“At Good George we’ve always been about maximising the fun factor and bringing people together.  Lifting the lid on the science and the mechanics of whisky production and making it more accessible by offering shares, is all part of this new offering."

Word’s been getting around and some barrels have already been snapped up by Kiwis eager to develop a signature drop.  There’s been strong interest from the expat community too who want a hand in a developing a Kiwi-made product with their own personal twist.  Investors can purchase a whole barrel at $16,000 or take a 10% or 50% stake and expect their whisky to be ready in five years, yielding approximately 250 bottles per barrel.

Brian is not surprised the interest is coming from both near and far, saying an annual visit to see the distillery in action, do some taste testing and inspect barrels is not just achievable but rather appealing for many.

He says “We’re a trusted New Zealand brand with a track-record of staying one step ahead. We’re stoked to embark on what is essentially a co-creation journey.”

“Whisky is a product where you bring the secret sauce. We just help you make it happen - with a few guardrails in place. What’s most exciting about the flavour combinations in the pipeline is they are uniquely Kiwi and will stand out from the crowd.”

While it’s difficult to forecast what the precise profit margins will be, investors can be assured this is an appreciating asset and globally set to outshine gin in the premium spirits market over the next ten years. Brian says barrel owners can expect anything from an 8-15% return based on current market trends from overseas.

What’s clear, of course, is whisky is on the rise and it’s a long game with no shortcuts.

Thanks to New Zealand’s sub-tropical climate, it is well positioned to get ahead of the pack, with warmer climates significantly accelerating the ageing process.

With a warehouse in Hamilton that has been recently reconfigured to accommodate a growing number of whisky barrels, Good George is well and truly committed to this new operational pivot which has been brewing for several years, inspired by a raft of similar initiatives around the world.

It gained momentum once Brian and the team realised that the extreme temperature variance unique to the Waikato region provided an additional boost, accentuating the expansion and retraction of the wooden barrels, adding colour and depth to the flavour.

Of course, resale is not always the goal - many private purchasers will be keeping the finished product to themselves, to share and enjoy with friends and family for years to come.

As its traditional fan base ages, whisky has been recruiting a new type of fan in recent years, with some brands collaborating with high-end fashion designers and others like Glenlivet overtly targeting women in their advertising campaigns

There is also a lot of potential to manipulate the flavour profile of whisky, unlike gin which is ready to consume immediately.  Brian suggests this delayed payoff is almost a novelty in our fast world where there’s a shortcut for almost everything, with single barrels particularly sought-after for being one of a kind.

While the People’s Cut has hit the ground running, Good George’s very own whisky product remains a work in progress after plans were derailed when the business shifted focus to meet the demand for hand sanitiser during Covid-19.   In the meantime, the focus is squarely on enabling others to come along for the whisky making ride, with all eyes are on the mighty Waikato.