How do you convince wealthy people to invest in whisky they might never get to drink? By creating a whisky tasting room in Midtown that feels like a speakeasy. That’s the goal of Braeburn Whisky, a whisky investment company that allows people to buy lots of casks from a handful of distilleries in Scotland as Commercial Observer Read More Channel, 145 West 57th Street, Samantha Lopez, slideshow, The Plan, National, New York City, Braeburn Whisky, Green Velvet, Regent Antiques
How do you convince wealthy people to invest in whisky they might never get to drink? By creating a whisky tasting room in Midtown that feels like a speakeasy.
That’s the goal of Braeburn Whisky, a whisky investment company that allows people to buy lots of casks from a handful of distilleries in Scotland as investments — or to drink. Samuel Gordon, the company’s president, explained that aging whisky was not merely a reliable investment vehicle, but the model also provides shorter-term financing for distilleries that can’t sell their product until it reaches a certain age (which is at least three years by law in Scotland).
The firm’s newly opened Midtown office — a 1,300-square-foot space at 145 West 57th Street — serves as both a casual workspace for employees and a “whisky vault” where Braeburn can host tastings for investors. The design is somewhat Midcentury Modern, but with Scottish touches, including blue and green tartan wallpaper and vintage Scottish art on the walls. The moldings and parts of the walls were painted red, along with the doors to the tasting room/office.
The ceiling — which had once been ugly acoustic tiles — was replaced with gold mesh tiles, and then the borders were painted red. There are plenty of dark leather accent chairs, in keeping with the men’s club/speakeasy vibe, as well as unique wall sconces and a chandelier hung with brass chains.
The entry and reception area features floor-to-ceiling glass doors with brass handles, and red curtains have been hung on the other side to add a bit of mystery. Written on the doors, in small gold script, is something like the company’s motto: “an investment in your experience.” The space is across the street from Carnegie Hall, and the wallpaper in the reception area is in fact a print that came from Carnegie Hall’s museum, featuring a mustachioed man crying over his last bottle of whisky.
“The client really wanted a no-phones vibe,” explained interior designer Samantha Lopez, who designed the space and has her own firm, Green Velvet. “Face to face, eye to eye. How can we make it cool? So Green Velvet’s idea was we can make this vintage safe that feels fun when you’re at the door.”
On the way into the tasting room is a seating area with a leather couch and a long row of wall-mounted bookshelves, complete with antique collectibles like a vintage toy Porsche and dozens of old books, and on the other side is a curved wooden bar stocked with whiskies.
In the center of the room is a custom circular wooden table created by British-based furniture producer Regent Antiques, with the help of an Italian designer. The table incorporates wooden mats at each seat that can be pulled out to play a whisky taste-testing game, where investors can guess how old a whisky is or what part of Scotland it’s from, and bet on their guesses using poker chips.
Robert Khodadadian has long had a simple philosophy about selling real estate. The way he sees it, there are approximately a million buildings in the city, and the broker that gets to sell any one among the multitude that will hit the auctioning block at a given moment is, sometimes, simply the person who happens to pitch their services to the right seller at the right time.
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