UK – Israel trade links
About three weeks ago, I wrote about the strong and deepening trade connections between the UK and Israel. Since then, tearing up 70 years of protocol, it has been announced that Prince William will make a formal visit to Israel in June. To be blunt, royal travels are almost invariable followed by an increase in trade between countries.
However, what drew me to these comments was my visit yesterday to a small start up in Tel Aviv, as part of the delegation of the Israel Britain Chamber of Commerce. We were hosted by Eitan Attir, CEO, and Gal Levin, business development, at the Milk and Honey Distillery.
Some background is required. The distillery was created on the whim of some entrepreneurial spirit – pun intended – back in 2012. The idea was to make Scottish whisky in the Holy Land. Yes, the origin of the word whisky is the “water of life”, possibly associated with Medieval monks creating a passionate drink.
As Eitan carefully explained his passion, it was clear how his start up is linked to Britain, and far beyond the basic concept. For example:
- They contracted Dr. Jim Swann, who before his untimely death last year, was a pioneer in setting up distilleries in hot climates. His knowledge has proved to be invaluable.
- Second hand equipment was purchased from Scotland.
- Malted barley is imported from Yorkshire.
- Of the four main export markets to be targeted later this year, UK is on the list.
For the IBCC, the event was labelled as a power networking breakfast. Certainly, sampling tastings so early in the day did take some extra effort from the participants.
As for the distillery, last year, Milk and Honey became the first Israeli distillery to release a 3 year old whisky. The 300 or so bottles, or what is left of them, are apparently already available on the sites of ‘hard to find’ whiskies. It is currently expanding its floor space by a further 20%. This will allow it to produce to around one million bottles a year, placing it alongside some of the smaller Scottish producers.