Matthew Lillard’s Whiskey Brand Is Slaying Sales

Food & Drink

The idea of a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) inspired whiskey might seem like a fantasy to most people. But the recent successful launch of Quest’s End Whiskey from Find Familiar Spirits highlights an often overlooked segment of the drinkers with two things that drive sales: passion and deep pockets.

That is something that the co-founder of Find Familiar Spirits, the actor Matthew Lillard, knows all about. A lifelong D&D player and self-professed nerd, his company Beadle & Grimm’s, which he founded with four gamer friends five years ago, has become a leader in selling high-end gear for tabletop games. Their premium boxed game kits priced between $95 to $500 quickly sell out, and their website offers a whole host of other items for gamers. When his good friend, screenwriter, and producer Justin Ware introduced him to Tim Sparapani, one of the founders of Blue Run Spirits (which Molson Coors
just acquired), he knew what he wanted to do.

“As a lifelong gamer, I felt that there was a consumer market just begging for attention; Beadle & Grimm’s showed me that. So, the three of us sat down and hatched this plan to launch a spirit company,” says Lillard. “We landed on the idea of Find Familiar Spirits; it’s named after a very famous D&D spell that appealed to the inner gamer in me. We decided to produce high-end bespoke spirit verticals around different fandoms, much like what we have been doing for several years at Beadle and Grimm’s. Our first one is Quest’s End, a fantasy-inspired D&D-themed whiskey.”

First launched in 1974, D & D is widely credited with launching the roleplaying genre of game playing. For years, generations of adults and children have gathered online or in-person to engage in its elaborate roleplay adventures and quests. Along the way, roleplay games have grown into a $2.2 billion industry. Numerous movie franchises, apparel, and gaming companies have created products specifically aimed at the industry, but alcohol has mostly ignored it.

By launching the first brand focused solely on this fanbase, Find Familiar Spirits might have found a whitespace to exploit in a crowded alcohol marketplace. Their initial offering, a bourbon called Ouest’s End: Paladin, went on sale online at their website on October 6th, and all 5,000 bottles priced at $149.99 sold out within two weeks. The liquid inside was sourced from established distillers and crafted by Master Blender Ale Ochoa to ensure a quality product.

Part of what makes Find Familiar Spirits initial offering so interesting is the level of attention they put into Quest’s End. Designed to be a sixteen-bottle set that will be released over four years, each bottle’s flavor profile and name reflects a specific character that is inside an elaborate tale. It’s a boozy roleplay adventure that only inspires its fans to continue to collect bottles since each one will continue the storyline and offer a different whiskey.

Each bottle is covered with D&D-themed art and comes with an elaborate full-sized booklet that tells the story of the bottle’s hero. The brand worked with Kate Welch, the first female game designer on Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, to create an authentic storyline that would resonate with fans. Tyler Jacobson, a world-renowned fantasy artist, created the bottle art and booklet design.

The next bottle in the Quest’s End series (Rouge, followed by Warlock and Dragon) will go on sale at the beginning of January, with a new one following every three months. By doing limited bottlings with specific artwork and liquid, they are taking a page out of Blue Run’s playbook. Due to the strong initial demand, they plan on bumping their bottlings up. Rouge will be 6,500, and Warlock will hit 7,500. According to Lillard, the waiting list for the next release is already overflowing, and that is due to Quest’s End’s connection to its fans.

“The reality is that whiskey drinkers and D&D players have this idea of story, right? The real connoisseurs, the whiskey collectors, love a good story that accompanies great liquid,” says Lillard. “That’s very similar in the Dungeons and Dragons world. You’ve got a bunch of people sitting around a table playing a game two, three, or four years at a time that love a good story. We deliver that in a way that speaks to both communities, whiskey lovers, and gamers. That’s why we love doing direct-to-consumer sales from our website. It allows us to connect to our fans and continue to over-deliver and let them know we are there for them.”

All good adventures end up with the hero completing their quest and good joy all around. Only time will tell if Find Familiar Spirits will come out on top, but the first steps in their journey are leading towards something good.

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