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James Iles

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

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By James Iles, Jun 23, 2015
  1. Last year, Castello Cities Internet Network's CEO Michael Castello announced the sale of one of his most prized domain names: Whisky.com for $3.1m. In the first of a weekly feature entitled "Inside Interviews," I talk to the new owner of Whisky.com 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 Whisky.com Media Corporation is a spin off of The Whisky Store (Whisky.de), which happens to be one of the biggest whisky mail order stores worldwide. Due to red tape work whisky.de does not ship outside Germany.

    Whisky.com Media is still a small company with only three employees. We are developing the whisky.com domain and it will take still some time until we are as successful as whisky.de is today (10 million page views per month).


    2. Congratulations on the acquisition of Whisky.com. 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 Whisky.com 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 Whisky.com?

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


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

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


    6. Would you ever consider buying other premium domain names - such as Whiskey.com (an alternative spelling)? Or are you content with the domain names you own?

    Whiskey.com 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 whisky.com. If you look at the estimates of Google, then whiskey.com has a higher value than whisky.com.

    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 Whisky.com domain name?

    Whisky.com lay nearly silent over the last few years. The page rank at Google wasn't really good. In the past few months we moved whisky.com 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.
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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 [email protected] 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 Established Member

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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 Whiskey.com domain though. That would definitely complete their portfolio.
     
  7. Skyvisum

    Skyvisum Top Member 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 Member 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.

    -Omar
     
  9. cdboard

    cdboard Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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  10. kawalsukhi

    kawalsukhi Top Member VIP

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    Great article!
     
  11. 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.
     
  12. RJ

    RJ Top Member 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!
     
  13. mitok

    mitok Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Whisky.com is a great example how important EMDs are! I am talking about Google only as I think it is clear Whisky.com 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 Whisky.com as an example of importance of EMDs when selling EMDs. I set one simple website where I took Whisky.com 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 TheWhishyExchange.com are much better than of Whisky.com, but Whisky.com is above TheWhiskyExchange.com ;) Their content is comparable, but all other SEO factors are on the side of TheWhiskyExchange.com, 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. TheWhiskyExchange.com has better TF, DA, PA, more backlinks etc. but it is under Whisky.com 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 :)
     
  14. sam roy

    sam roy Top Member 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.
     
  15. freddy

    freddy 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 whiskey.com 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 beer.com with U$7M, Vodka for U$3M in 2006, almost 10 years ago! And now the U$3,1M for Whiskey.com, so what is wrong in the buyers assumption comparing Whiskey.com and Whisky.com (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 whiskey.com. 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 beer.com, 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 whisky.com 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 whiskey.com 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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