SIA Scotch Whisky is breaking all the rules. Created by a young woman of Cuban heritage, who originally didn’t like Scotch, it was funded through Kickstarter, and it was purposefully designed to be the Scotch for people who don’t even know they like Scotch.
Carin Luna-Ostaseski was a successful graphics designer who didn’t drink Scotch and really didn’t care for it. Luckily for her, a friend introduced her to Oban, a single malt from one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Suddenly the light went on and she developed a passion for Scotch. The more she became involved, the more she wanted to change the stereotype of heavy, smoky Scotch as the drink of white, middle-aged men. Her goal was a Scotch that would appeal to the contemporary palate.
Ten years of tasting, experimenting and even obtaining a bartender’s license led to a whisky created by Douglas Laing & Co. Ltd. that is a blend of Speyside, Highlands and Islay malts. The project was funded by Kickstarter, which raised over $45,000 from 245 backers providing a readymade market of enthusiasts who not only funded the project but wanted to drink it as well.
The name SIA (pronounced see-a) is Gaelic for six, Carin’s favorite number. A lovely honey color, SIA is luscious yet delicate, with notes of honey, caramel and vanilla. You may get hints of citrus, too, depending on your palate. It feels rich, full in the mouth with a finish that lingers softly. Carin’s designer hand and attention to detail is evident in the packaging. The tall, elegant bottle made in France is gracefully curved enhancing the visual and tactile experience. The finishing touch is an elaborate “S” etched on the back of the bottle that shows through to the front.
It took courage for Carin Luna-Ostaseski to step out of her comfort zone and break into a man’s world. She was encouraged by another woman, Lauren Shayne Mayer, head of sales and marketing for Spirit Imports who also served as a brand consultant. SIA is more than a gateway Scotch. It will appeal to the regular Scotch whisky drinker while surprising, and converting, the novice. It was not designed specifically for women but we are betting the flavor profile and beautiful packaging will appeal to the sophisticate and discerning woman.
The brand launched in San Francisco in January this year and will soon be available in Chicago. The San Francisco retailers are listed on the web site www.SiaScotch.com and some of them will ship to other markets where permitted by law. It is priced at $49.99 and the web site offers recipes for cocktails. We think it is so delicious that it would be a crime to add anything more than an ice cube. But that’s just us.