• A very tiring and yet energising week. I was lucky enough to be up in Scotland, working with a family-owned whisky distillery. We’re kicking off a new brand creation project, and it’s been really interesting so far.

  • This project has reminded me how much I like stakeholder interviews. I spent my early career as a journalist, and I still find that process of meeting someone, figuring out what makes them tick, and sniffing out a story to be fascinating. There’s also that feeling of not wanting to look an idiot, and so diving deep into the research beforehand, which I really enjoy.

    Once you’ve got a sense of each person’s story, the job is then to stitch them all together into a coherent narrative. What’s going on here? Who agrees with whom? Where are there interesting points of tension and disagreement? Where is there group-think that needs to be challenged? I couldn’t imagine starting a project without them.

  • The distillery itself is incredible, too. They’ve been operating since 2017, but are still two years away from actually selling a bottle of Scotch that they’ve distilled. This is not an industry for the impatient! The quantity and quality of the wood they’ve invested in, and the skill with which they’re maturing their whisky, is really remarkable, and it’s equally remarkable that they’re not launching a gin or a young whisky, even though they could easily do both. It’s an impressive commitment.

  • More than anything, though, I just bleedin’ love being in Scotland.

  • In Honest Umami news, we’ve just got our first retail listings which is very exciting. We’re now available in Superette, in London’s Islington and Highgate; in Block & Bottle, in Newcastle; in Reuben’s, in Suffolk; and Laura’s, in Liverpool.

    The operating model of these food stores and delis is interesting; they’re differentiated, I guess, by being ahead of the curve and being the place that their customers go to in order to discover new and exciting brands. That means they have to work hard to uncover brands like us, which makes our sales job easy, but I suspect it also means that we’ll only be able to remain in them if we remain cool – which potentially means remaining niche.