K&L Awards 2012: Best Distributor - JVS

When you buy liquor for a major retailer, you can't just call up the distillery and send a truck over. There are these guys called distributors who must act as the middlemen between K&L and the hard stuff. Southern and Young's are the two big players. Wine Warehouse is a distant third, followed by Henry, and Pacific Edge here in California. Then you've got little JVS, who also act as importers for us when we buy our casks in Scotland. Every analogy you can think of about size comes into play when you're talking about distribution. The big guys are slow, the little guys are fast. The big guys are more powerful, the little guys more cunning. The big guys spend money like the Yankees, the little guys have to do more research like the A's. Eventually, the little players find a superstar, only to have that superstar poached from them like Jason Giambi.

Being a little distributor, you do all the grunt work. You drive from account to account. You try and convince guys like me to buy your products. The big guys have all the brand names. People come to them, not the other way around. You've probably heard me talk about my friend Val before. He's the guy running the show over at JVS. He's the guy who makes sure that we've got Kilchoman in stock. He's the guy who will drop everything at a moment's notice to come and pour spirits in our tasting bar. He's the guy who busted his ass for years, spreading the word about Gordon & MacPhail and Signatory, before those two companies decided to move on to the big boys. The irony now is that both independent bottlers have gone drastically downhill in California since they left JVS. Why? Because no one understands the smaller independents like JVS. It was similar to the WWE putting the heavyweight title belt on Daniel Bryan. They have the talent, but they have no idea how to use it. Young's doesn't even know that they have Signatory in their portfolio. I have to remind them.

Then there's the cask importation side. Which casks arrived on time this year? Let's see...Kilchoman, Sovereign, Exclusive Malts, and Chieftains. Hmmmm......what a coincidence! All of those casks were imported to California by JVS on behalf of K&L. Which casks are not here yet? Hmmmm.....let's see......Benriach, Glendronach, Glen Garioch, and Glenfarclas! All of these barrels are being handled by Southern and Young's, the two biggest companies, and they're all ridiculously late! I called today about our Glen Garioch cask, which was supposed to be delivered four weeks ago. You know where it is? Fucking New Jersey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you serious?!!!!!!

When you need something done fast in the business and you need it done well, you don't call the big boys. You call Val at JVS and he gets shit done. No haggling, no prices that don't match up, no refunds due, no missed deliveries, no mismatched products, no mistakes. You need a cask, he'll get you that cask. You need a sample of something? It's there on your desk by the following morning.

What a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE difference between small distribution and major distribution. JVS gets it done. Chieftain's, Arran, and Kilchoman are all on the right team. JVS makes the playoffs this year and every year by busting their asses and working harder than anyone else.

Distributor of the year for 2012. No contest.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll