A little over a week ago, I heard of a late entry exhibitor for this week’s Whisky & Spirits Live festival. There was concern over whether they would be able to get their whiskies cleared through customs in time, and I am happy to report that they have! When you see the list of whiskies that are going to be available at the Stilnovisti stand, I’m sure you will all agree with me that we are all better off for them having made it!
I caught up with Michał Kosior who is flying out to South Africa to represent Visit the Stilnovisiti website at the Whisky & Spirits Live festival in Johannesburg from 31 Oct – 2 Nov.
WTF: Hi Michał, can you give my readers a bit of background into who Stilnovisiti is, and how the company got into whisky as an investment option?
MK: Hi Mark, it’s very nice to meet you and we’re thrilled to be a part of Whisky Live Johannesburg 2018. Stilnovisti is the oldest alternative investment company in Central and Eastern Europe. We focus on assets such as art or wine but at the core of our business lies whisky – peacefully “sleeping” in its casks, waiting to be either bottled by us for our clients or sold to another whisky brokers. We manage investments for private and corporate clients all around the world. According to new figures, Scotch whisky exports value climbed by 10.8% in the first half of this year – proving once again that investing in whisky casks is currently the safest and most attractive form of investing in spirits.
WTF: Where is the company currently based, and what does your whisky portfolio consist of? I’m assuming you purchase a lot of casks. Do you also have high-worth bottles and whisky collections in your portfolio?
MK: We obviously started from Poland as our country of origin but we quickly scanned the vital points of whisky trade and located our offices there. Apart from Polish office we opened one in London and the most important – in Dufftown, a small city in the heart of Speyside region which hosts over half of whisky distilleries in Scotland.
As for our whisky portfolio, I invite to join us on the Whisky Live event to see a portion of it for yourself. There are two kinds of whisky bottlers: ones that design their taste by carefully vatting, marring casks together and making delicious whisky that way. The second type – which I think we’re representing – are the explorers, the seekers, tasting different casks from different distilleries, searching for the perfect ones that can express what we think will be unique for whisky drinkers.
WTF: Can you tell us more about yourself Michał? What’s your background?
MK: I joined Stilnovisti after 9 years of bar-tending. My journey has taken me through retail shop desk and bar-tending at events and whisky festivals, to spirits buyer and cask brokering. With Stilnovisti I have managed to co-work with some of the best whisky experts I could have ever dreamt of. Dominic Roskrow and Charles MacLean just to start off the list. It’s a dram joy ride, full of solid knowledge – seeking…
Don’t get me wrong – you cannot cut corners when it comes to answering whisky geeks questions – they know it all ! I’m really happy that there is so many people I can share my passion for whisky.
WTF: This is the first time you are coming to South Africa right? What prompted Stilnovisti to sign up as an exhibitor at Whisky Live?
MK: Yes, this will be our first time coming to South Africa and we are very excited to do so. Especially because we joined forces with another independent bottler – Murray McDavid and ACEO Spirits. South Africa has a one of the “hottest” markets in the world right now, and we want to be a part of growing whisky culture in this part of the world.
WTF: What are you hoping to achieve through attending the festival? Is it to simply raise awareness of your brand? Are you looking to sign up new investors? Or establish a presence in the country to sell hard-to-find single cask whiskies?
MK: We are striving for all of things that you have listed above. Stilnovisti is an international company, we have a history of exhibiting on Whisky Live in Tel Aviv, taking part in Spirit of Speyside and a future of premiering our 50yo whisky in Beijing. We always try to be wherever there is a need for venerable and unique single malts.
WTF: I’ve seen the list of amazing whiskies that you will have available for the festival. How did you go about selecting which whiskies would make it across to SA?
MK: As for Murray McDavid we just went for the whole 2018 range of single casks and curious vattings, those whiskies are certainly well put together and mindfully chosen. It would be a shame not to bring every bottle that we possibly could. With the Stilnovisti brand – as we deal only in single casks and limited releases – it would be very difficult to gather all of our bottlings together. We tried to pick the ones that we think express in the best and most honest way the quality of our casks.
WTF: If you had to pick three “must-try” whiskies from the list, what would they be? Yes, I know this in an unfair question to ask! 🙂
MK: It’s a very difficult question and honestly I would pick the 50yo Macduff over every and each bottle from our stand! If only I could pour that for everybody… But back down to earth I think that from Murray McDavid, the Mission Gold series is a must for every connoisseur. Then there is this year’s revelation for me – a 17yo Ledaig from a Jurançon wine cask. For Stilnovisti I recommend the Bunnahabhain 28yo – a single cask that can only be described as a “big boys dram”, complex and robust whisky with uniqueness that only an old cask of Bunnahabhain can have.
WTF: Any tips for people new to whisky, or something the seasoned whisky drinker may not know about Stilnovisti?
MK: I think that the best recommendation for people that are new to whisky is to try every possible dram that you can get your hands on. Even the ones that they’ll know that would not be the best whisky there is. And the reason for that is that experience and knowledge of “good whisky” and discovery of own favourite taste is based on comparison and is paved with many drams. (WTF: Sound advice!)
WTF: What happens after Whisky Live? Are you planning on maintaining a presence in the country?
MK: Yes. We would like to leave behind only the best memories of unforgettable drams that will be poured at our stand and hopefully establish Stilnovisti, MMD and ACEO Spirits brands and make them accessible for every whisky enthusiast in South Africa.
WTF: Thanks for your time Michał, I look forward to catching up with you and your team at the Stilnovisti stand at the show!
MK: Thanks Mark – see you at the show !
Stilnovisti have a wide portfolio of brands that their whiskies fall under. Here is the breakdown:
- Rage Whisky: Young and bold single cask expressions at cask strength
- Puffin Whisky: Well-matured, but easy drinking single malt, single casks whisky bottled at 46%ABV, with no colouring and no chillfiltration
- Stilnovisti: Single malt, single cask expressions reflecting the quality of casks that we are using
- Lucullan: A new brand, with older expressions, all single malt, single casks
- Aulquerc: The newest addition to the family and the oldest whisky yet – a 50 years old Macduff – single cask, single malt
Stilnovisti Whisky List
For those of you who haven’t seen the full whisky and exhibitor list guide I created for the 2018 Whisky & Spirits Live festival, here is the list of whiskies that will be available at their stand. I’ve highlighted the whiskies that I’m interested in trying in red.
|Clynelish 1996 21YO 1st fill Koval Bourbon||2|
|Glen Grant 1992 25YO Refill Bourbon||2|
|Tamdhu 1987 31YO 1st fill Koval Bourbon||2|
|Aberlour 2009 9YO 1st fill Oloroso||1|
|Caol Ila 2011 7YO Grand Cru Classé St Emillion||1|
|Deanston 1996 21YO 1st fill Koval Bourbon||1|
|Ledaig 2001 17YO Jurançon Wine||1|
|Macduff 2007 10YO Sherry Butt||1|
|Eòrna • Lòin II 1997 20YO 1st Fill Bourbon||1|
|Ìle • Mòine 2008 10YO Refill Bourbon||1|
|North British 2007 10YO 1st Fill Bourbon||1|
|Invergordon 1987 30YO Refill Sherry||2|
|Port Dundas 1971 46YO Refill Bourbon||2|
|Bùrn • Toabh 1991 26YO Bourbon hogshead||1|
|Coinnich 1995 22YO Refill Bourbon||1|
|Malts of Islay – Àlainn 1989 27YO Sherry Butt||1|
|Peatside 2011 7YO 1st Fill Pedro Ximénez||1|
|Rìgh Seumas I 2007 11YO Bordeaux Red Wine & Bourbon||1|
|The Speysiders 2009 8YO Bourbon/Sherry/Wine||1|
|Air Leth 1988 29YO Bourbon hogshead||1|
|Coinnich II 1996 Bourbon hogshead||1|
|Rìgh Seumas II 2007 10YO Bourbon/Sherry/Wine||1|
|Young & Old 2011 7YO Bourbon, PX, Oloroso||1|
|Glenlee Blended Scotch 1/2000 bottles||1|
|Smoky Scot Islay Single Malt Whisky||1|
|Parkmore 7YO Single Malt Whisky||1|
|Glen Cooper Teaninich 5YO Single Malt Whisky||1|
|Puffin Whisky 21YO Glenrothes Single Malt||1|
|Bunnahabhain 1989 28YO Single Malt||2|
|Glen Keith 1995 21YO Single Malt||2|
|Carsebridge 1964 52YO Single Malt||4|
|Clynelish 1997 15YO Single Malt||2|
|Aultmore 2008 7YO Single Malt||1|
|Ledaig 2005 9YO Single Malt||1|
|Macduff 1962 50YO Single Malt||4|
I’m sure I’ll see you at the Stilnovisti stand. Until then, na zdrowie!