Why Thanksgiving and Booze Mix

Why Thanksgiving and Booze Mix

I remember my old high school football coach who always stocked up on whiskey before each year’s homecoming game. The joke was that he would need something to drink whatever the outcome was. Either he would be celebrating a victory or drowning the sorrows of a loss. We always won because the school stacked the football schedule so that every homecoming game was played against the worst team in our part of the state, but there was a ring of truth in what my coach said. People tend to drink for a reason, and those reasons tend to revolve around the way we feel-- good or bad.

Big Data and Hooch

Big Data and Hooch

So, you think you know your customers? I am confident that you do, and in a lot of ways to boot. The smart distilleries did their research, found their niche, and focus on their target market with an eye at branching out to other related markets.

Why is Moonshine Called Moonshine?

Why is Moonshine Called Moonshine?

Everyone at some point in their life, probably several points really, will stop and ask, “Why is such and such called X, Y, or Z?” Sometimes the answer is pretty straightforward, like pizza being the Italian word for pie or any other instance where English has taken an untranslated foreign word hostage and used it to its own end. Other times, the answer isn’t so simple. Case in point – the word moonshine. The origin and meaning may not be what you expect, or even what you think you might know.

Hooch Branding and Marketing Trends

Hooch Branding and Marketing Trends

We all know that it takes more than an excellent product to be successful. Heck, if a good product was all it took to make a million bucks, we could have had Grandma make her meatloaf for us instead of building a distillery. Distilleries have to create a feel, a mental and emotional picture in consumers’ heads that pop up whenever they see a label or hear the name. But branding and marketing are a funny thing. Last year's sure-fire trick to drum up the business is next years guaranteed to turn off millennials. Unless you want to start a line of whiskey for Toys-R-Us, it's a good idea to stay on top of marketing and branding trends.

The Best Medicine

The Best Medicine

It’s hard to make it through a day without seeing an ad for prescription medicine. It doesn’t matter if you’re an old schooler still watching broadcast TV and reading magazines, or a cord cutter hoping the “skip ad” option comes up in the middle of a boner pill commercial. From cancer, restless leg syndrome, depression, to diabetes, there is a pill for everything it seems.

Celebrity Spirits

Celebrity Spirits

Sometimes it's easy to forget that celebrities are actual people with their own interests and hobbies. After all, we almost always only see them in their role as entertainers. That one-dimensional image is easy to get locked into our heads. So, when we look at a celebrity strike out and do something outside of what they are known for, we instinctively take notice - assuming it's a celebrity we care about and not a Kardashian. These things usually end up being a fashion line, maybe a restaurant or a random side project apart from what they are best known for. Other times, it's something unusual.

Must Attend Trade Shows of 2018

Must Attend Trade Shows of 2018

With 2018 winding up to be a big year for craft distillers, its time to start prepping for the conventions. Any distillery who has been doing this for a while knows how important these little get-togethers can be. This is where the best and the worst ideas (i.e., see the mistakes by the competition and avoid them) all come together for everyone to see.

2017 Distilling in Review

2017 Distilling in Review

What will historians say about 2017? Whatever it is, chances are they will need a drink first. Things have gotten so crazy in the world and national politics that when the Pentagon admits that UFO's are real, nobody notices. And with 2018 starting off with kids eating Tide Pods, chances are future historians are going to die from alcohol poisoning before they finish out talking about this decade. It will be up to us to make sure those drinks get made, so let's take a look at some of the big things that hit the craft distillery industry this year good, bad, and in between.

5 Ways to Manage Distillery and Distributors Relations

5 Ways to Manage Distillery and Distributors Relations

It doesn’t matter whether your distillery is beholden to the three-tier monopoly, or free from those shackles. Your distillery still needs a healthy relationship with distributors to survive as a business. They are the gatekeepers, and the only way to open that gate is to keep them happy. What keeps them happy is simple. Money. Keep the money coming in for them, and they will swing those doors wide open. Making money goes beyond raw sales though. A distillery needs to be a well-oiled cog in the distribution machine. The squeaky wheel may get the grease in the adage, but in the distribution game, it gets dropped. Don't be the squeaky wheel. Be the one that keeps everything running smooth.

Liquor Geek Outs

Liquor Geek Outs

The geeks have inherited the earth, or at least are the driving force in pop-culture these days. It makes sense when you think about it.

Patriotic Toasts for Your Distillery to Share During July 4th Fireworks

Patriotic Toasts for Your Distillery to Share During July 4th Fireworks

So, we are coming up on another Fourth of July and are getting ready to celebrate the birth of our great nation, during one of the most divided periods in history. There really isn’t anything that is going to change that anytime soon. People are entrenched on their side and are unwilling to give an inch to the opposition under any circumstances. Arguing with friends, family, and neighbors at the backyard bar-b-que isn’t going to win over any minds, and will only ruin what could be a perfectly good evening with fine spirits and amazing food topped off with some dazzling fireworks.

The Legal Hoop Jumping of Starting a Distillery

The Legal Hoop Jumping of Starting a Distillery

I keep expecting that one of these days, we are going to see a craft distillery, working its butt off day in and day out, come out and say, "Our secret is our lawyers."

A Guide to Answering Questions on Distillery Tours

A Guide to Answering Questions on Distillery Tours

Beware the gatekeeper mentality in yourself and anyone working in your distillery. What is the gatekeeper mentality you ask? This is when people who know lots about a certain subject are dismissive and condescending to newbies who ask a lot of basic questions. This was a huge problem in the geek community when things like superhero movies brought new people and non-traditional geeks into the fold of all things nerdy. Hipsters have also taken this up and applied it to everything they do.

Bypassing Distributors with Guerrilla Marketing

Bypassing Distributors with Guerrilla Marketing

Monopoly. Gatekeepers. Rigged game. Big time corporate protectionism. However you want to describe it, the three-tier distribution is one of the biggest hurdles a small-time craft distiller has to overcome. It squeezes what are often already thin profit margins, and exacts too much control over your business by telling who you can sell to and how much. Even if the deal you get is a good one, just remember that the only reason that deal is good is because some mover and shaker is using you to make money. You and your distillery will be tossed aside like garbage as soon as a better cash cow comes along.

What Your Distillery Should Watch for in 2017

What Your Distillery Should Watch for in 2017

It's easy to let yourself get too set in a routine, especially if what you've been doing for so long has been working great. The problem is, that sort of thinking can make a person blind to that constant change hanging around in the air. Remember that no matter what you’re doing, or for how long it’s been done, it was once the newest thing or idea that knocked what used to be the new/big thing out of the top spot. Change will happen. How does this affect the craft liquor industry? Well, look at these new trends.

What Your Distillery Can Learn from Going to Tradeshows

What Your Distillery Can Learn from Going to Tradeshows

There was once some wise individual who said something to the effect, “Just shut up and listen, will ya’.” It’s good advice for life, and it’s something that can work for craft distillery tradeshows as well. Sure, tradeshows are mainly about self-promotion and getting distributors, restaurants, and other vendors to notice your fine spirits. After all, you need to get people to buy your liquor to make money. There is more a distillery owner or manager can do other than promoting their brand, and that is watch, listen, and learn.

Farewell 2016

Farewell 2016

It’s a safe bet that 2016 will go down in history as one of those years everyone will say they want to forget as they talk non-stop about how bad it was to their friends. No doubt there will be endless toasts celebrating its demise this New Years. 2016 had its moments, that’s for sure, but why do we hate it so bad? There have been plenty of worse years, and I’m not talking that far back in history like 1916, 1929-1945, or 1968. 2001 and 2008, 09, and 10 were far more difficult years than 2016. So why the hate? Because we need the catharsis.

Tips for Distillery Managers

Tips for Distillery Managers

Distillery managers have a tough job. On the one hand, they’re working at a company that has to make a profit, just like any other cubicle farm in the big city. On the other, making spirits is more than a job. It’s a calling steeped in tradition. There is an inherent level of passion found in people working at all levels of a distillery that doesn’t exist in companies that make gaskets or slip covers.

The Best Craft Spirits for Holiday Gifts

The Best Craft Spirits for Holiday Gifts

With the demise of Turkey Day, the official start of the holiday season is upon us. It doesn't matter if you call it Christmas, Yule, Hanukah, Kwanza, Festivus, or just another Sunday. It's also time for a little shopping. Some of it will be easy. There are our casual acquaintances and coworkers who we will buy gift baskets full of meat and cheese or sweet soaps, and maybe the kids (our own or nieces and nephews) who will want toys, or gift cards if they're teens. What about your real friends and your closest grown up family members? For them, you should get something that they will enjoy and remember.

Drinks to Celebrate or Mourn the 2016 Election

Drinks to Celebrate or Mourn the 2016 Election

Politics is often the third rail of business. Say the wrong thing or admit to supporting a candidate that a customer doesn’t like, and a sweet business relationship can go down the crapper faster than sliders the day after a visit to White Castle. Unless politics is somehow directly tied to your business, you are almost always better off avoiding the subject. Even if you know your political leanings are in sync with a customer or client, word of which side you’re on might get out and cause friction with another one.

4 Things You Should Always do at a Distiller & Spirits Trade Show

4 Things You Should Always do at a Distiller & Spirits Trade Show

Liquor trade shows are a great way to showcase your distillery’s goods. Whether you are a regional player or have dreams of taking your booze national, there isn’t a much better way to get the attention of industry movers and shakers than hitting a few trade shows. The trick is, getting a big wig’s attention is easier said than done.

Host a Tasting to Showcase Your Craft Beverage

Host a Tasting to Showcase Your Craft Beverage

So you got your distillery up and running, and the first batch of your amazing whisky or bourbon has aged to perfection. Now you have to figure out a way to get the word out and gain your first customers. It’s really easy. Have a tasting. This is a great way to launch your brand and establish who you are in the eyes of your potential customers.

Distillery Warning: Understand the Olympic Marketing Rules Before Mentioning the Brand

Distillery Warning: Understand the Olympic Marketing Rules Before Mentioning the Brand

One of the more useful ways to market on social media is to ride the coattails of something huge. Some of the first big things that come to mind are the Super Bowl, The NBA Championships, or something like The Olympics going on now in Rio. But before you end any tweets about your new batch of golden whisky with #GoFortheGold, you better pay mind to the rules for using any of the Olympics’ brand recognition on social media.

5 Companies That are Rocking 2016 and What Your Distillery Can Learn From Them

5 Companies That are Rocking 2016 and What Your Distillery Can Learn From Them

Each business and industry, including craft distilleries, has its own litany of things that work or don’t work. However, some ideas can cross over. Some companies are built and run by experts while others are built by geniuses who change everything. Take the time to have a good hard look at what innovators in other industries are doing. They might be doing something that can kick your distillery into high gear.

Market Your Craft Liquor—3 Tips for Marketing to the Back to College Crowd

Market Your Craft Liquor—3 Tips for Marketing to the Back to College Crowd

It’s getting close to back to school time. Many of the people running distilleries might not take notice. After all, the first thoughts that spring to mind are crayons, backpacks, and notebooks for the kids. Hard liquor isn’t on the list there. But there is one group going back to school this fall who might be a good idea to market to. College students.

4 Marketing Ideas for Spirits in Summer

4 Marketing Ideas for Spirits in Summer

It’s always smart to capitalize on the seasons when you are in need of a good marketing campaign. As the summer months begin to wind down, there’s still a bit of time to capitalize on what the season has to offer. Here are 4 ideas to help you utilize what the summer has to offer your marketing plan.

Social Media and Your Distillery

Social Media and Your Distillery

There is no question that having a strong social media presence is vital for any business today, and that goes for distilleries. However, managing social media is more complicated than creating a Facebook page and forgetting about it or hammering out a tweet every couple of months. It’s a real job.