The Drinks Trust Interview Simon Aron

Cask Trade

The Drinks Trust Interview Simon Aron

In June 2024, Cask Trade announced their fundraising project in support of The Drinks Trust. Simon Aron, CEO and Founder of Cask Trade, spoke to the charity about his journey into the cask whisky world, Cask Trade's story, and why it is so important for people and businesses to support the work of charities such as The Drinks Trust.

Simran: Hi Simon, thank you for taking part in today’s interview, can you introduce yourself a little bit?

Simon: It’s a pleasure and nice to be here. My name is Simon Aron, and I am the Managing Director and Founder of Cask Trade. We are a lovely organisation that exists in London and Edinburgh, we also have offices in Hong Kong. We employ about 23 people, this is our 6th year of business and we are pleased to be involved with The Drinks Trust.

Simran: That is amazing, we did some background research on you and found out that you have a background in technology, could you describe how you got into the drinks industry and what inspired you to work in the industry?

Simon: I’ve been an entrepreneur and started my own company at the age of 22. I’ve run multiple companies over the years, I’ve bought and sold companies and started new ones, I was an angel investor, so I’ve helped mentor young business owners as well over the years. However, there has always been one consistent factor and that is whisky. I’ve always been a bit of a whisky geek, and really interested in it from every aspect; how it’s made, the people involved, the taste and the profile. I fell in love with Scotland from the first time I went. I’ve seen the industry change, but it was my hobby. I then decided I wanted to follow my passion and my hobby and so that’s what I did with Cask Trade.

Simran: That sounds great, can you tell us a bit about Cask Trade?

Simon: My objective was to create a marketplace which gave people the option to get involved, to buy a cask of whisky, but also to exit into the market. When I got involved in the business, many people didn’t even know you could buy a cask. It was either whisky enthusiasts, people in Scotland or people inside the industry - access wasn’t widespread at all. I saw there were a lot of people like me, who collected bottles of whisky, that wanted to collect casks of whisky.

I am also a big fan of independent bottlers, people who have their own brands, who still use their original distillery name, who are doing some pretty creative stuff with whisky. They were bottling casks at natural cask strength, from different distilleries but put into blends, since the whisky was not marketed openly, they were finishing it in various types of wood from different ages - very creative stuff. I also wanted to build a marketplace for that.

Whether it was form an investment/private client, or trade/bottling view, I wanted to make sure that people could get access to casks, to buy and sell them and trade them. We started in 2018, and we’ve done very well. We’ve got a lot of international clients that put whisky in bottles, with their own brand. We have sold to the on-trade, retail and wholesale on almost every continent. It is an interesting market.

Simran: That sounds really cool, this year is the 5th anniversary of Cask Trade, can you tell us a little bit about how you will be celebrating?

Simon: We have a bottling that we are doing for The Drinks Trust. It is a particular cask that’s been picked by my co-director. It is a young cask and very indicative of what we do as a company. We will be bottling that and selling that to raise money for The Drinks Trust at a party for around 200 clients at the Watches of Switzerland on Regents Street.

Simran: We are really happy that you are supporting The Drinks Trust with this generous initiative. Cask Trade will bottle 200 bottles from a 2015 cask from Speyside Distillery’s 2015, and you will donate part of the profits from the sales of the bottles to The Drinks Trust. Could you kindly tell us why you decided to work with us?

Simon: So there are a lot of different reasons. I think the most important fact is that we educate people as much as we can in cask strength, Scottish single malt whisky. People need to know that there is probably a whisky for them, even if they’re not a big whisky drinker. Most of our customers bottle individual casks at a pretty high ABV, which is pretty strong stuff, so getting it from cask to bottle takes some education.

I think that what The Drinks Trust do matches that. If there’s a partnership that needs to be had, we need to share our knowledge with young bar managers, cocktail makers, and apprentices working in hospitality so they can differentiate between the whiskies. It is pretty strong stuff, so there is certainly an educational piece about being careful while enjoying whisky.

Cask Trade is at the start of the journey, holding a cask, then there are lots of people in front of us and ultimately it all gets bottled and it all gets drunk. The Drinks Trust follows all of that because it represents people who work behind the bar and others who work throughout that industry, from producers, distilleries, breweries and in the Scotch whisky market.

Simran: Can you talk a little bit about how people can get involved with the initiative?

Simon: The initiative from our point of view is to make sure people recognise the charity bottling. They understand why we’re doing it, how we’re doing it and they can appreciate that it will be at cask strength. It’s a floral cask, a beautiful colour and a bit different because most people have tried whisky that has perhaps been diluted a little. This stuff is cask strength and just completely natural. People can get involved by seeing if they can buy a bottle. The other thing we are very much interested in is making sure we educate people on all the different styles of whiskies with no particular distilleries involved, “independently”. I know you have initiatives with apprentices and bar managers, and we can help.

Simran: We are super excited for the evening in June. Can you explain a little why it is important to donate to charities like The Drinks Trust?

Simon: I could use cliches like, what you give you get back. The fact of the matter is, an industry is made up of multiple parts, if you’re not involved in other parts, supporting all of the other complimentary businesses that make up the drinks industry, then really you shouldn’t be part of it. It’s as simple as that. If The Drinks Trust can help people struggling in hospitality and want to re-educate, then we need to be a part of it. We’ve seen it, we’ve operated the business through COVID, and it was tough.

Simran: That’s amazing, last question, what would you say to companies wanting to work with The Drinks Trust?

Simon: Get creative, you do with your businesses, so get creative in how you can interact with The Drinks Trust. I know how I can interact, even though I am very much in the background of the industry. There is a lot of scope, and I think that’s because The Drinks Trust is pretty broad in the way that it helps people. You hear in the newspapers about people struggling and then you hear about the government putting up taxes on particular alcohol to such an extent that customers don’t want to go to the pub anymore. It covers all areas, and the same people who could lose a job or have to retrain are the same people who may not be able to pay their bills. It covers all areas. If people want to get involved, get creative, because there is definitely a place to plug in.

Simon: Cask Trade is proud to support The Drinks Trust and play its part in the industry. Although we sit at the back of the industry, we certainly sit at the back of a very long process, where a cask gets to a glass and gets enjoyed by a client. We’re celebrating our fifth anniversary by bottling a whole cask at natural cask strength, literally from the cask to the bottle, and we’d like people to buy that bottle and proceeds from that bottle will go to The Drinks Trust. Everything we do, standing behind the industry needs to be felt by the people who enjoy the benefits of The Drinks Trust. Come buy a bottle!


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