Interview: Caskers.com co-founder Moiz Ali
September 10, 2012 § 11 Comments
As I stand on what feels like the edge of the tallest mountain looking down into the weeks, months & years ahead as I prep the launch my own whisky, Brenne, I am proud to find myself in like-company. There are a handful of other entrepreneurs who are in the midst of introducing their own whisky-focused companies – it’s an amazing feeling to be in this place in life period, but to be in this moment with others who have also brought to fruition their dreams is, well, magical.
Following the heels of last week’s post where I published my interview with the blogging team of the It’s Just the Booze Dancing crew, I thought it time to shine some light on more of these amazing whisky-loving folks. This week I present to you one of the two co-founders of Caskers.com. A very new and very cool craft spirits sale site.
And if you like what these guys are doing, they’ve given you the invitation code WHISKYWOMAN to use HERE which lets you skip the “request invite” step & gives you immediate access to their site.
Caskers.com co-founder Moiz Ali
What is Caskers.com? (Why is it so unique and what makes it different?)
Caskers is a website where we curate, market and make available for sale craft spirits. We work with industry experts, master distillers and mixologists to find the best craft spirits being distilled today, and then feature those spirits on Caskers. Our goal is to help customers discover great spirits and help craft distilleries earn brand-recognition among consumers.
We don’t aim to be the Walmart for spirits and stock every item ever made. Our goal is to feature only amazing craft spirits and only for limited periods of time. This way, we can help customers discover great spirits and eliminate the clutter that currently fills up the shelves of most liquor stores.
When did you launch Caskers.com?
We launched into public beta on June 18, 2012.
How long did you work on it until the time you were ready to launch?
My co-founder, Steven Abt, and I recognized the problem while we were both in law school in Boston. After a few weekend trips to places like Chicago, New York and San Francisco, we realized that we couldn’t get access to spirits that we tried in other major cities when we came back to Boston. We knew there had to be a better way.
In late 2010, we came up with the idea of Caskers and then at the beginning of 2012, we quit our jobs and began focusing on Caskers full time.
That must have been a thrilling feeling! But your based in New York, right? Fill in the gap for me, please. How did this become a concept in Boston to a full-blown company in NYC?
We are based in NYC. While we came up with the concept of Caskers in law school (we both went to Harvard in Cambridge, MA), my co-founder and I both ended up taking jobs as lawyers in NYC. He worked at Wachtell Lipton and I worked at Simpson Thacher. Even while we were lawyers, we always kept talking about how this concept would be a great business venture. And while being a lawyer was fun, we knew this would be better! We quit our jobs at the beginning of 2012 to found Caskers!
Tell me about the types of products you feature in your flash sales?
We like to think of them as private sales rather than flash sales, because we don’t want to imply that the products we’re selling are being discounted because of quality or that we’re having some type of close-out sale.
The products we feature are the best craft spirits being distilled today. We get recommendations from industry experts, master distillers and mixologists (not to mention customers!) and then our team tries everything to see what spirits really stand out. Once we find a sprit that we think is amazing, we work with the distillery to feature it on Caskers. We really are looking for the best stuff out there – we’ve already rejected a number of distilleries that reached out to us because they weren’t the right fit for Caskers.
Who should join Caskers.com?
Everyone! Well, everyone over the age of 21 actually. The spirits we feature are incredibly unique. They have distinct aromas and flavors. While we readily admit that people have different palates and preferences (for instance, Steve prefers rye and I prefer bourbon), the spirits we feature are amazing and you’ll be able to find something you love on Caskers. And even if you don’t drink, you’ll like the stories that we tell on Caskers. At Kings County Distillery, the label on each bottle was originally created by a typewriter the master distillers found on the street in Williamsburg. At Caledonia Spirits, the owner of the distillery was a beekeeper for nearly 50 years before he decided to incorporate his organic, raw Vermont honey into gin and vodka.
Caskers has something for everyone.
What does it cost to join?
Caskers is free to join!
What was your inspiration for creating Caskers.com?
Steve and I both took a number of weekend trips during law school, and realized that the spirits we tried in Chicago, LA, New York and San Francisco just weren’t available back in Boston. To us, that was crazy and we knew there had to be a better way!
You have had tremendous growth and success in the short time since the site has been live, what do you attribute that too and where do you hope to be this time next year?
I think we’re just filling a need that has been there for awhile. Spirits aren’t like soft drinks – you don’t just choose between Pepsi and Coke when you’re young and stick to that brand the rest of your life. You want to try a broad range of spirits and taste everything out there. We know people have limited resources, both in terms of time and money, so we help people try the best spirits being produced today. So long as we do a great job curating spirits, I think we can continue to grow quickly.
What were you doing (professionally) before Caskers?
I was a corporate lawyer for about 2.5 years before starting Caskers. I worked at a firm called Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, after graduating from the University of Florid and Harvard Law School.
Steve was also a corporate lawyer before starting Caskers. He worked at a firm called Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, after graduating from Princeton and Harvard Law School.
Have you always loved craft spirits?
If you’re a cop, I’ve loved craft spirits since I was 21. Otherwise, yes! I love that they have original flavors and love thinking about master distillers when I drink them. These guys and girls work tirelessly to produce something unique and interesting. They really are pioneers.
How has running your own business, particularly in the Spirits industry, changed your life?
It makes me want to run to work everyday! It makes me love craft products – not just in the spirits industry but in everything. I want to eat food from farmer’s markets, sit on chairs made by an artisan whose passion is to make great furniture, and live in a unique home that was designed by an architect who knows what he is doing.
Would you do it all over again if you could?
In a heartbeat.
Final thoughts from me to Moiz Ali & Steve Abt: Thank you so much for sharing your story and for letting us have a peek behind the curtain! I love that you’re really helping edit down & pick out the great craft spirits from a sea of choices for the educated consumer – which in today’s busy world is very much appreciated. Job well done, guys!