What do gypsy moths, lost glassware, alcohol volumes and shipping deadlines have in common. They all almost stopped the 1st Edition Scotch Whisky Calendar from ever getting to market.
I could literally create a very long list of key moments over the past year where we had to overcome a project killing challenge. At a later date I will no doubt be able to tell even more of the story but for now I will just list four major obstacles that all threatened to derail the Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar train. One which was in our control and 3 that were not.
Firstly after exhaustive proof reading by not only us but 5 other seasoned pro’s 3 of the 25 whisky labels ended up with the wrong alcohol volume upon their arrival in Scotland. Our Scottish Bottler’s Craigton Packaging did a great job in finding a local source to re-do the labels however this definitely held up the production time by almost 2 weeks. One other label was also left intentionally blank as the cask had not been tested when the labels were initially printed.
Those who have a calendar will be able to spot this as it is the only whisky that has the alcohol volume hand written by the awesome staff at Craigton.
When we initially went to market with nothing but a picture and a concept we were able to secure 1600 calendars worth of pre-sales. As time went on and production and other events pushed everything back we realized that in order to make sure we could get everything to market in time we would have to settle with 400. It’s a good thing we did……
So with newly minted labels and a looming deadline things became very stressful as we realized that the drop dead shipping date was quickly approaching. The final hurdle to having the whiskies released and ready for shipping was the signing off on the paperwork so that the in-bond alcohol could leave the bottling plant. It was at this stage with multiple emails and phone calls and seemingly very slow progress we received word that all the 50ml mini’s had to be ready for pickup the next day or we would miss the boat and our chance to sell into the market before Advent began.
As it was, our shippers Containerworld would have to do something extraordinary by picking up the shipment and load it into the container then onto the ship the same day (pretty much unheard of). I sent a last email to all concerned stressing that it had all come down to making this deadline and went to bed not knowing if it was all going to be done when I woke up the next day. To say I had a fitful sleep would be putting it mildly.
At 3:30am I sat bolt upright in bed and reached for the iPad only to see no emails from the UK as yet even though their day had already begun.
Falling back to sleep I managed to get through till 6:30 and with fear and trepidation I opened my email to find………..CONFIRMATION that everything shipped. My wife and I shared high fives, hugs and tears of joy. I don’t ever think I have gone from being asleep to being so completely wide awake in my life.
So with the whisky now safely on it’s way to Canada we turned our attention to the calendar boxes themselves that were on the water and due to arrive in Vancouver from China within a few weeks. The timing of everything coming together was crucial, in the background we had the Spiegelau whisky tumblers shipped from Ontario to Edmonton to have the 1st edition logo added before then shipping them to Connect Logistics to await the arrival of all the other components.
Imagine my surprise when in the middle of a freak Fall snowstorm in Calgary I get a phone call that the completed glasses are about to be delivered to my home rather than to Connect in Edmonton.
Well after diverting the truck to its rightful destination it was delivered to the wrong receiving area and so they were swallowed up for over a week before finally being found.
Know that when you take your first sip of the Day 1 whisky that your 1st Edition glass is extremely well traveled.
So onto the calendars themselves. having allowed an extra month of time in making sure that they would be at Connect in plenty of time we were set to become so very very thankful that we had that time available to us. Upon reaching the Vancouver port it was discovered by the Canadian Customs Port Authority that the ship in question had a Gypsy Moth infestation.
It was immediately quarantined and sent back out to international waters for the crew to rid the vessel of said infestation before they could return for unloading.
These things don’t happen quickly and it was almost 3 weeks later that the calendars were unloaded and on their way to Connect in Edmonton.
So now Connect had the job of putting together the various pieces for each calendar as well as inserting the correct whisky into the correct alcove. Just so you get the full picture below is a list of everything that had to be added to the calendar before it could be placed in its box ready for sale.
Attach hand written numbered sticker
Insert Launch Party Invitation
Insert Christmas Card
Insert Whisky Tumbler
Add 25 whiskies in their correct positions (note that the numbered alcoves are scrambled just to make it more fun) 🙂
Attach bar-code and alcohol volume sticker
Connect Logistics did a great job in putting this all together but in order to maintain quality control only one person was allowed into the “calendar quarantine area”. The entire process from receiving to hitting the warehouse and being available for sale took another agonizing 2 weeks+. Our initial aim was to have the calendars available at the end of September at the latest with our emergency only backup plan being the end of October. The first calendar allocation was available for retailers on the 28th October and 76 cases went out to stores that week. Talk about using every single day to hit a deadline.
I can sit back now and report that every single case has been accounted for and ordered and already most retailers have sold out. By the time you are reading this there will be very few available on shelves so I hope you have yours safely tucked away waiting for December 1.
I could and might possibly write a book about this whole fun ride at some time in the future when I can divulge more about some of the additional challenges we faced. This has been an all consuming passion to bring this 1st Edition to you and what makes me most happy and fulfilled is to see the glimmer of childlike expectation and excitement when I see someone look at a calendar for the first time and scurry to the till with one of 400 safely tucked under their arm.
This one is for you my whisky loving friends!
See you on the 1st December for whisky No. 1
Your taster of secrets