Over the course of the 20th century, Israel made a name for itself as a wine-producing country. But now, a half-dozen Israeli entrepreneurs want to pioneer the nation’s role producing another strong spirit: whisky.
Milk and Honey Distillery bills itself as “the first artisan distillery in the land of Israel.” According to the website, the idea was hatched as a group of friends were sampling whiskies in a bar in Tel Aviv, talking about the spread of whisky production beyond traditional nations like Scotland, Ireland, and the US. They decided that Israel should join that list.
Their timing couldn’t be better. Whisky production has spread in part because whisky consumption has as well. A recent report found that India accounted for 48 percent of global whisky sales from 2006-2011, and China’s spirit imports grew 250 percent over the last ten years.
They recruited master distiller (and Scotland native) James Swan, and started buying or ordering the expensive copper stills necessary to make high-quality whisky. The idea caught fire, and the group was able to raise $1 million in capital–all when their first batch won’t be ready for four years.
But even with the success of their capital campaign, Milk and Honey started an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to generate early revenue, and also give small investors a chance to get in on the fun. Rewards range from a bottle of their first batch for $79 (available by the end of 2017, when the batch is ready) to a glass of whisky in space for $950,000 courtesy of Virgin Galactic (available when Virgin Galactic is ready).
The company said their first batch will be a Speyside-style single malt that is “fruity, flavorful,” and “not too sweet.” But they are eager to branch into other styles, like bourbon.
Milk and Honey has also said that their offerings will be kosher. This is good news for a growing group of observant Jews who are whisky fans. The spirit has become an increasingly popular luxury item of the last few years as kosher-observant consumers realized many varieties are naturally kosher, giving rise to a whole annual convention for the demographic.