Behind the Brand: Talking with the Founders of Misunderstood Whiskey

When asked to describe Misunderstood Whiskey in three words, brand founders JD and Chris said “The People’s Whiskey”. And truly for the last few years, their goal has been to create a product and a brand that strips away the preconceived notions about whiskey and re-introduce the spirit as an accessible and deeply delicious drink for rookies and connoisseurs alike.

In their own words, the founders of Misunderstood Whiskey give you a bit more insight into their unique process, thoughts on whiskey, and why they’re striving to make a more understood whiskey.

What is the story behind your brand? How did you get started with Misunderstood Whiskey?

Misunderstood started simply as a passion project out of our mom’s kitchens about 5 years ago. We had no idea what we were doing at the time but saw an opportunity to bring something new & refreshing to a saturated and archaic market.

Our goal with Misunderstood was to develop a beautifully authentic and quality whiskey that would be accessible to a lot more people than just the connoisseur - we wanted to introduce a non-pretentious brand that could be appreciated by just about everyone. After a lot of late nights experimenting after work with hundreds of infusions, ginger was the one ingredient that was the perfect mellowing agent.

The reaction to our test batches was so positive that we quit our jobs and officially launch batch #1. Within the first 24 hours of launching Misunderstood, we sold out online and shortly after, completely sold out of batch #1. We literally had to buy back bottles from liquor stores in order to stock the bars and restaurants for their cocktail menus.

We quickly realized that the company was exceeding expectations and distributors we’re already knocking on our door within the first 4 months of sales. In 2017, we sold out twice and expect to sell over 3,000 cases in 2018. While our audience has grown, our motivation has remained the same. Go against the grain to change people's perceptions about whiskey. That's why we’re Misunderstood.

Why do you feel whiskey is “misunderstood”?

Misunderstood has a couple meanings. Our goal with Misunderstood is to truly be “The People’s Whiskey” so we wanted to bridge the gap between whiskey connoisseurs and those who were newer to whiskey. To the connoisseur - flavored or infused whiskey gets a horrible reputation.

We use our ginger more as mellowing agent for the whiskey rather than flavor. Most perceive whiskey as an old, harsh, and expensive spirit which isn’t the case at all. You can still enjoy a quality smooth whiskey without breaking the bank.

We’re getting rid of that “whiskey face”. Misunderstood is something for everyone.

What makes Misunderstood Whiskey unique?

We understand our target market because we are our target market. Millennials are extremely experimental. They always want to try new out of the box things. They also love versatility so when you show them a product that can be easily paired with fresh watermelon in the summer or enjoyed in some hot apple cider in the winter and is around $30, it’s tough to beat.

Other than the uniqueness of our flavor profile and quality of our whiskey, we’re creating a brand that is directly targeting our consumers. We want people to truly connect with our brand and “think outside the bottle”.

We put our whiskey on tap, we think of fun, delicious cocktail ideas that can easily be replicated at home. We also create a ton of content that hopefully make someone’s day.

Our brand message is “Craft Your Legend”. Basically meant to inspire those to live life to the fullest, pursue their dreams and create memories that will last a lifetime. Define who you are by doing what you love and create a legacy in your own right.

What piqued your interest in whiskey? Why not stick with lemonade?

We love whiskey. Each whiskey is unique, different, and has a story. There are so many factors that dictate the outcome of whiskey – grains, water, wood, time, finishing techniques, barrel finishing, weather, elevation, etc. It’s a true American craft and now we’re just so happy to be a part of it.

Are there any differentiating factors in the creation of the ginger spiced whiskey that truly make it special?

Infusing the ginger is the very last step to our process. Our whiskey is distilled and aged in oak barrels just like all the others.

What makes Misunderstood unique is our finishing and blending process. We blend our bourbon with American whiskey finished on various types of oak for different flavor profiles way before we finish with the ginger. We do this so when you get different flavor profiles, the mid-note, and finish, it's coming from our grain, our wood, and of course, our ginger.

What's your go-to cocktail made with Misunderstood Whiskey?

It’s so simple, clean, and refreshing. As far as classic cocktails go, it’s tough to beat our Misunderstood Manhattan or Mojito (that’s right - a Misunderstood Mojito...TRY IT!).

Why ginger and spice? How did you decide on those flavors? What makes those flavors a fan favorite and how do they complement the whiskey?

We weren’t just going to throw ginger in our whiskey and call it a day. Misunderstood needed to be an experience and take your pallet on a rollercoaster.

New notes needed to appear on the first smell, the first sip, and on the finish. We infuse other complimentary earthy spices with our ginger for a unique experience. We also have a high corn mash bill for sweetness so you get a subtle sweet and lingering ginger finish on the end.

Any exciting upcoming news for your company?

We’ve been growing like crazy since our launch last April and we can’t thank our supporters enough! We will be expanding into new markets come 2019 such as CT, NY, and PA.

Our Ginger Spiced Whiskey is just our first offering. Our goal is to break whiskey out of its box. We may have something else in the works … stay tuned!