James Iles

Inside Interview: An Exclusive Look at the 3.1 Million Dollar Sale of

By James Iles, Jun 23, 2015
  1. James Iles

    James Iles Writer/Consultant/Broker PRO VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Last year, Castello Cities Internet Network's CEO Michael Castello announced the sale of one of his most prized domain names: for $3.1m. In the first of a weekly feature entitled "Inside Interviews," I talk to the new owner of to see how the domain is being used almost 18 months after the sale.

    1. For some of our readers who aren't aware of your company's background, could you give us a brief overview of your company?

    The Media Corporation is a spin off of The Whisky Store (, which happens to be one of the biggest whisky mail order stores worldwide. Due to red tape work does not ship outside Germany. Media is still a small company with only three employees. We are developing the domain and it will take still some time until we are as successful as is today (10 million page views per month).

    2. Congratulations on the acquisition of Could you tell us how you went about acquiring the domain name?

    We were contacted by a domain broker from Canada. If you search for the keyword "whisky" or particular brand names on Google, there is no chance of missing us.

    3. Could you tell us some of your reasoning behind the $3.1m valuation?

    If you look at the raw figures and the estimates Google gives for advertisement revenues, then such generic domains have a maximum value of a few hundred thousand US Dollars. But Fortune 100 companies pay a lot more for their names. There is an ideal value in these domains. But only for those companies, which are firstly able to afford them and secondly able to unleash their hidden value.

    4. Would you have considered paying more than $3.1m for

    No, it was the absolute maximum. But the Euro was strong then and from a European standpoint it was affordable.

    5. How has owning affected your business? Has there been an increase in website visitors & sales since your acquisition?

    We do not sell over the website. We are still building up traffic. It took us more than 20 years to bring to the pole position in the German whisky market. Give us five to ten years to achieve this for

    6. Would you ever consider buying other premium domain names - such as (an alternative spelling)? Or are you content with the domain names you own? was often offered to us through brokers from Canada, US, Europe and Australia. But we are not willing to pay more than 310k$. That is a tenth of the money we paid for If you look at the estimates of Google, then has a higher value than

    But if you look at the market and the whisky lovers, then 90% of the connoisseurs go for expensive Scotch Single Malt Whisky and not for cheap Irish Whiskey or widely available Bourbon Whiskeys. And here lies the hidden reason, why we paid more for our domain. Professionals inside the domain buying and selling business do not have the insights into the markets.

    7. What does the future hold for the domain name? lay nearly silent over the last few years. The page rank at Google wasn't really good. In the past few months we moved to [Google's] first page and today, we are quite often already above the fold. In Germany we were able to beat Wikipedia and have a stable Number 1 position for the major whisky searches. It will take some years and if we are Number 1 in whisky worldwide we will find out what the future holds for us. We are thinking long term. Whisky is nothing to rush - whisky has so be savoured slowly.


    *The interview has been edited to correct grammatical errors*

    Inside Interviews is a blog series profiling the buyers of high-value domain names. Find out their motives, negotiation tactics, and their opinions on popular domaining topics only on the NamePros Blog.
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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  4. James Iles

    About The Author — James Iles

    James is a domain name industry professional currently working on numerous domain industry research, acquisition and sales projects. Contact james (at) For all inquiries relating to NamePros stories and interviews, please email: [email protected]

    This is James Iles's 21st blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

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  5. Comments (12)

  6. enterscope

    enterscope Gold Account

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    They show up Number 2 on Google for "Whisky" when I search. Looks like a great resource. I bet they really want that domain though. That would definitely complete their portfolio.
  7. Skyvisum

    Skyvisum Top Contributor VIP

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    Better investment and money well spent.I Like "Whisky is nothing to be rushed".If you have a long term plan for any investment you make,you wait long term for reaping on your harvest.
  8. Omar Negron

    Omar Negron Top Contributor VIP

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    Nice piece James.

    I remember hearing about this sale some time ago. It was brokered by a guy known as Toronto Domainer. He also posted a picture of him holding the commission check. I use to read up on his blog but noticed it was down the last time I went to see what was the latest with him.

    Either way, great sale and it looks like this company is in it for the long haul with this domain name.

  9. James Iles

    James Iles Writer/Consultant/Broker PRO VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger ★★★★★★★★★★

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  10. cdboard

    cdboard Top Contributor VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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  11. kawalsukhi

    kawalsukhi Top Contributor VIP

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    Great article!
  12. Paully

    Paully Established Member

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    Not everybody is aware that whisky and whiskey is different, and I am sure that many people searching for whiskey are actually looking for whisky and vice versa.
  13. RJ

    RJ Version 2004 PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    This interview is real gem because it gets you inside the mind of an actual end-user buyer. We hear a lot from the domain sellers after transactions, but not too often from the buyers. I like how he talks about using Google stats and the currency differences between Euros and dollars that made $3.1m a good value for their company.

    Well done Mr. Iles!
  14. James Iles

    James Iles Writer/Consultant/Broker PRO VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger ★★★★★★★★★★

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  15. mitok

    mitok Top Contributor VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    768 is a great example how important EMDs are! I am talking about Google only as I think it is clear is a better brand than any other whisky related name.

    Many will say content, content and only content when it comes to search engines. But they are just "wannabe SEO experts" and far away from real experts. EMD is very important for ranking, even after EMD algo update. It is a fact!

    Recently I started to use as an example of importance of EMDs when selling EMDs. I set one simple website where I took as an example how superior EMDs still are. If you are interested you can find it under subtitle "How strong exact match domains really are?"

    Domain metrics of are much better than of, but is above ;) Their content is comparable, but all other SEO factors are on the side of, except one :) That one is EMD!

    I think we should be educated about EMDs as if we don't know advantages of the domains we are selling how we can expect an average webmaster will know.
    From my experience, an average webmaster will tell that EMDs are not important at all and I strongly disagree.
    Take this "whisky" example. has better TF, DA, PA, more backlinks etc. but it is under if you search for "whisky" ;) No surprise for me.

    Google ranking is only one big advantage of EMDs, but overall perception is also very important. I am sure @Ali Zandi will agree :)
  16. sam roy

    sam roy Top Contributor VIP

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    @jamesiles Thanks for the great interview.
    I don't understand the interviewee's assertion that the domain is worth few hundred thousand dollars but they paid more. If past sales of similar domains are any indication the deal price seems right if not higher.
  17. freddy

    freddy VIP Member PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    exactly, and I believe that the buyer maybe not fully understand it, otherwise he would think different about and value the domain name differently. He is a very strong expert in the Whisk(e)y scene, I love his Videos! He should have tried to get both in the same time. Now he has set a price tag for those type of names. Actually it has been already confirmed now the third time with this transaction. The first was with U$7M, Vodka for U$3M in 2006, almost 10 years ago! And now the U$3,1M for, so what is wrong in the buyers assumption comparing and (F... I am always misspelling the ky-Version), 10 years ago a domain of a broad consumer Product rarely advertised on TV sold for 3M and he is saying the rare Whiskys are more valuable as the more popular well known consumer product Ok, maybe thats where he should have first talked anonymously to some domainers or online marketing experts. Where are my users comming from? What do they type in, most whiskey lovers I talk to write whiskey, rarely whisky. So not only for Marketprotection or Brandprotection and acquisition of clients for whiskey should be considered. But also for expansion reason, moving Whiskey drinkers maybe to Whisky. The Market becomes suddenly X-Times bigger. It is like Porsche suddenly decide to build SUV´s or Diesel engines, it was like a market explosion for them. But reading the interview made me understand that making the .com a big biz might be not a high priority.

    Yes you are right, it is good to hear this feedback, few years ago I talked to the people which bougth originally the, they werent able to unlock the underlaying value of the name. A generic domain like that gives so much authority, but most businesses which buy those type of names usually just redirect it to the main domain.
    With the labyrinth of new gTLD´s, the acquirer did with a really good deal, those type of names (Ultra-Premium EMD´s) will build even more authority over time in the consumers mind as they are more easy to remember. Bla bla bla everybody knows this already.

    but after all I still believe his assumption is wrong valuing the at a 1/10 of the money he paid for the ky. The market is similar but not the same, where does Dr. Pepper Cola catch the client? already in their store or there where the consumer gets Pepsi and Coca Cola? Thats also a reason why Typos convert so well ...

    OK, I could go for ever because every time when I am selling one of those type of names I have to explain it (with or without Whiskey). always, really always the brand owners confirm at the end what I am saying even if they are not able to pay my price.
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