This weeks spotlight is on Daniel Humphrey, founder and director of the Summerton Whisky Club.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
Hi, my name’s Dan. I launched the Summerton Whisky Club in January 2018, which has slowly grown into the largest full-bottle whisky subscription out there. It’s not my first business; having founded a social enterprise that allowed the physically disabled to rate the accessibility of hotels (think tripadvisor for the disabled). Building the brand has been a hobby for me that has developed to be my main occupation, and we now have a team of five.
My background is in sales and marketing for food & drink brands, such as Müller, Haagen Dazs and Blue Dragon, something that has been extremely useful in helping build the Club.
How did you get started with your business?
The Summerton Whisky Club started as a Christmas present for my Dad. Having spent a fair few Christmases and birthdays giving him bottles of whisky, I wanted to do something different and to stand out from previous years. I wanted to sign him up to a whisky subscription that would deliver a rare and unique bottle to his doorstep every month or two, but couldn’t find one. Undeterred, I created a whisky subscription for him that has now grown into the Summerton Whisky Club sharing whisky with hundreds or members.
What’s your biggest success or achievement so far?
In October 2019 we were able to share our very first UK exclusive whisky, ensuring our members are drinking something no one else in the country can get hold of. The most significant part of this for me, is that it shows that we have now grown to a size that makes us of interest to whisky brands, something we have been aiming for from the start.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Not working isn’t really possible running your own start-up, but I use sport to shut off for short periods. I play for football and roller hockey teams, and open water swimming when the weather allows.
What’s next for your business?
Christmas is key for us, as we started as a gift, so we have been focusing our marketing efforts on that. We also have our first exclusive bottling as our Christmas Bottle of the Month, another milestone in our development.
Once we get through Christmas, my attention will be on building the extras that our members can benefit from, such as our whisky festival, unique discounts, international distillery tours, competitions, etc, to ensure we have an engaged audience.
Building awareness on a tight budget, compared to some of our competitors. We have to be nibble to take any opportunities that fall our way and work hard to build conversations and relationships with whisky drinkers.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I love finding new whiskies to share with our members, that’s the best bit for me. When I get a rare & unique bottle to share with members, it’s a real challenge not to share what it is before it reaches them.
What advice would you give to people starting out?
Be aware that everything takes longer than you expect, but don’t be disheartened. You will have tough days, but you will pick yourself back up and go again. And build your social media profiles as early as you can, they are a free way to start conversations, understanding your potential customers, test ideas and get the word out there.