My husband David comes from a long line of distillers who produced Mahia, a traditional Moroccan spirit distilled from figs or dates. Mahia is to Morocco as Tequila is to Mexico or Cachaca is to Brazil. He grew up watching his mother and grandmother making Mahia using a simple alambic still, and clearly remembers the smell of fermenting figs that was a constant in their home. They sold their Mahia out of their apartment in Casablanca and his father distributed it throughout the south of Morocco out of the back of an old U.S. surplus army truck.
When we met 20 years ago here in New York, all he ever talked about was making Mahia. His dream was finding a way to revitalize this family tradition, but we both had good jobs and the timing just never seemed right.
In 2009, during the financial crisis, I lost my job as a commercial banker. Around the same time, David’s parents passed away and he returned to Casablanca. While there, he was reminded by members of the community that his mother was known for making the best Mahia in Casablanca. All signs were pointing toward fulfilling David’s dream.
By June 2010, it became clear we needed to take a leap of faith and try our hand at being entrepreneurs. We worked on opening a micro distillery that would allow us to realize this dream while supporting our family of five. It’s a very different lifestyle than we used to have. We don’t take vacations anymore. We pour everything we have into making this business work, but we’re so much happier.
Nahmias et FIls, a Hudson Valley company, is the first micro-distillery to be based in Yonkers, NY. We produce unique artisanal spirits such as Mahia which is a traditional Moroccan spirit distilled from figs, Legs Diamond un-aged rye whiskey and Legs Diamond aged rye whiskey. Since we began production in mid 2012 our Mahia has been awarded a Silver Medal at the 2012 New York International Spirits Competition and 93 points by Anthony Dias Blue. We have also received media coverage from the New York Times, NPR, and LA magazine.
We also recently released an aged rye whiskey under the Legs Diamond label, which Astor Wines describes as “This is one of the most impressive of the new wave of craft whiskies being created today.”
Our products are currently distributed in New York, Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington DC, Maryland and Pennsylvania, Florida and we will be launching in Georgia next month. Our Mahia is also featured at Epcot Center in the Moroccan Pavilion. Our growth strategy is to focus on key urban markets with vibrant cocktail and foodie scenes.
We source our raw ingredients locally as much as possible. For example, we source our organic rye from farms in the Finger Lake area of up-state NY.
To take our business to the next level, we need to focus on increasing awareness and consumption of our products in our current accounts, and go deeper in these markets. We have opportunities to leverage “local,” “Kosher,” and exotic “Moroccan.” We have foodservice and mixology opportunities. Iconic NYC restaurant Daniel for example, purchased 5 cases for a foie gras recipe. One of our NY metro sales rep is the VP of the New York chapter of the US Bartenders Guild, and can help us arrange opportunities with mixologists. We also want to develop new products and expand to new markets. We recently started making single malt whiskey with malted barley sourced locally in New York State. We have also experimented with apple brandy made with apples from Hudson valley orchards and are looking to make small batches of other types of whiskey such as bourbon and additional fruit brandies make with fruit grown in NY State, that can be sold at retail out of our distillery.
A Kiva Zip loan helps us to hire brand ambassadors and social media / PR help, create print and web marketing material, and purchase raw materials for our new whiskies in development. With increased marketing will come increased consumer awareness leading to increased sales. New product development will help increase sales as well.
Marketing (ie. brand ambassadors, new sales materials, recipe cards and dissemination, sampling, and web marketing materials, assessing how to increase consumption and depletion): $3000.00
Raw materials (ie. rye, apples) for product development: $2000.00