New York Startup Caskers Offers Rare Spirits Online

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Whether you’re into delicately sipping a fine brandy in the company of beautiful men and women in some smoky, wood-paneled bar in Zürich or, like me, you would rather drink an entire bottle of Maker’s Mark in your shed while dreaming of Melissa Wycliffe, the girl who wouldn’t go to prom with you, Caskers aims to be your one-stop shop for all your tippling needs.

Founded by Harvard Law School graduates Steve Abt and Moiz Ali, the pair left the legal profession to pursue drinking full-time in January 2012.

The site sells artisanal and rare booze and so far it’s been going quite well. They’ve reached $1 million in annualized revenue and have 20,000 members who participate in the site’s flash sales of craft booze. The pair bootstrapped their business and haven’t found the need to seek funding.

When the pair says they curate the spirits on the site, they mean they curate the spirits on the site.

“Between 2009 and 2011, 1,800 new spirits were launched,” said Ali. “Our team samples and tastes each spirit we feature on Caskers before we feature it in order to ensure that it represents a compelling value to our members.”

While online booze sales are nothing new, by adding a bit of flash-sale frisson and some nice design, Caskers makes looking for booze just a bit cooler. “We recognized that the spirits industry was ripe for disruption – while thousands of new brands were being introduced each year, there was no one curating the products for consumers and thus, no way for consumers to discover the best new spirits,” said Ali. When traveling they’d try new tipples and find that they weren’t available back home. Caskers was their solution.

“Brick and mortar stores have limited shelf space, and devote most of it to ‘corporate spirits.’ In addition, B&M stores aren’t designed for browsing – the spirits are often located on a shelf behind a cashier who simply asks you what you want.”

For example, the pair recently spoke with the folks at the Van Brunt Stillhouse about carrying their whiskey, grappa, and rum and they’re constantly in talks with small distillers about new boozes.

“We target the person who has an interest in spirits, but doesn’t want to spend 2 hours a day reading Whiskey Advocate. In just 60 seconds, we educate you about a new spirit and tell you why you might want to buy it!”

The site is live, but it’s invitation-only and invitations are hard to come by. With a little perseverance, however, I’m sure we’ll all soon be able to fill our red Solo cups with sweet, sweet bourbon.

TechCrunch readers can join by entering invite code “TECHCRUNCH”.