Technical Hooch

Technical Hooch

One of the most annoying aspects of craft distilling is how so many people who enjoy what a label makes have no idea exactly how much actual craft there is to it. The blending of science and art is unreal. There is still a large segment of whiskey drinkers out there that believe a distillery is only a scaled-up version of a still set up some toothless redneck hiding in the hills has going. They’re thinking of bathtub gin and moonshine that makes people go blind and not quality spirits. As we know, the distilling process and running a distillery is more like a chemistry lab at CERN.

Rebirth of a Distillery

Rebirth of a Distillery

Whiskey was considered a universal medicine by many folks. And, there was even a science to drinking while working in the fields. Drink enough not to feel like the sun is burning you alive while not getting so drunk you cut off your foot. To keep up with this demand, there were a lot of people making a lot of liquor. Then prohibition came along and pretended that this considerable demand didn't exist.

The Character Mystery

The Character Mystery

Sometimes you can travel a thousand miles away, and still have a hard time feeling like you left town. Gadgets keep us in constant contact, and texting someone four states away is the same as texting someone two blocks over. The biggest trickster is chain restaurants. It could be one of the casual dining chains or a universal fast food joint. It all tastes the same.

5 Must Have Apps for Your Distillery

5 Must Have Apps for Your Distillery

Running a craft distillery tends to be like giving a rabid cat a bath in the middle of a tornado. Most of them are run on rather slim margins, and even if they are deep in the black, it isn’t like they are overflowing with personnel. The big, corporate distilleries have foreign investors throwing millions into their stock. Craft guys and gals have their dreams and lots of coffee. That is why they need to take every edge they can get, and productivity apps can be exactly that.

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.

Hooch Trends So Far 2018

Hooch Trends So Far 2018

Trends in the distilling industry can be an odd thing sometimes since it involves trying to see the future. Most industries have it easy. If plaid suddenly becomes a huge fashion hit, clothing manufacturers only need to order more plaid cloth. Even when it isn’t cheap or easy for a given industry to switch tracks, they can usually do so in a short amount of time.

How Tariffs are Affecting the Craft Beverage Industry

How Tariffs are Affecting the Craft Beverage Industry

I’m not a big fan of cynicism. To me, it's a refuge for edge lords and moody teens who want to sound wiser and more world-weary than they really are. Cynicism is also a frontloaded excuse for failure for many to justify not even trying in the first place. Still, there some days where it almost feels like the cynics are right. The alcohol industry fought a long hard battle to get the Craft Beverage Modernization, and the Tax Reform Act passed. Now we have a bunch of new tariffs hitting us where it hurts. At best, we took two steps forward, and one step back.

Whiskey and Food Pairings

Whiskey and Food Pairings

We're all used to people gushing over what color of wine, goes best with what dish. On the other end of the spectrum, we have beer, which mostly pairs well with hamburgers, hotdogs, and pizza (and fireworks on the 4th).

Distilling in the Past

Distilling in the Past

It’s easy to get caught up in the romanticism of the “good ole' days." In the liquor industry, we actively try and do as much as we can the same way it was done a century or two ago, at least when it comes to the actual craft of making the product. Sure, some labor-saving machines increase production scale. And, don't forget the backend lifesavers like accounting software that keep you compliant with the man. But, we still use oak barrels and rackhouses instead of plastic vats and a glorified lab.

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 Holy Tasting Room Trifecta

The Holy Tasting Room Trifecta

Nothing today is just one thing. Your blockbuster film will also have everything from action figures, video games, and diabetes-inducing breakfast cereal attached to it as part of a bigger marketing operation. And that isn't even including all the fast food promotions and car commercial tie-ins.

Quality Isn't Cheap--But it Can Be Affordable

Quality Isn't Cheap--But it Can Be Affordable

If there is one negative thing that can be said about craft spirits, it would be the price tag can be staggering sometimes. Not very many labels are friendly to the bank account. It’s understandable, once you consider why that is. Craft distillers are small operations. They don’t have acres and acres of vats and rackhouses that they can use to bring down costs on sheer scale alone. Most also don’t have the nation or worldwide distribution and marketing arms that the big companies do which can sell a bottle anywhere from Finland to Japan. The other significant cost factor is quality. Genuine quality isn't cheap, and it also isn't something that can be done on the same scale of the major brands.

Themed Distilleries

Themed Distilleries

Every business must stand out if it wants to be successful. This is in addition to working hard and having a product that people want. One standard way craft distilleries put themselves apart from the competition is through sheer quality. But the thing is, quality stops being a standout feature when every other craft distiller can rightfully claim the same thing. This desire to stand out has given rise to unique blends and infusions, which are great. That said, these are usually single product specific. As amazing as one bottle of uniquely blended or infused spirit may be, it doesn’t help all the other products that aren’t it fly off the shelves.

The Art of Whiskey Tasting

The Art of Whiskey Tasting

The world is so familiar with the concept of wine tasting that it has spawned countless numbers of people who throw out all manner of wine tasting jargon while at parties or a fancy restaurant, even though they have no idea what they are talking about. They are also the type who hide their lack of knowledge behind a contemptible sneer when someone brings up whiskey tasting. Whiskey has every bit the levels of taste, aroma, and character as any wine, and thanks to the hard work and dedication of craft distillers around the world, everyone is starting to find out this remarkable fact for themselves.

Regionalization of Your Whiskey

Regionalization of Your Whiskey

There is a reason that we have no single "American" whiskey or spirit. It's too big of a place. Sure, we have bourbon which is unique from a place in America, but not from the whole of America in general. Why? Kentucky is larger than Scotland by close to ten thousand square miles. And like Scotland is different from Spain, Kentucky is different from Minnesota or California. So are the liquors produced in these different places. And now many craft distilleries and states themselves are embracing these differences.

Hooch Apps

Hooch Apps

Everyone has a smartphone, whether they like it or not, and businesses taking advantage of this new fixture of life is nothing new. I’m not just talking about Facebook taking all your data and doing unspeakable horrors to it either. I remember seeing a trucker struggling with an iPhone a few years back, and after striking up a conversation with him, I came to learn it wasn’t his.

Packing Your Spirits

Packing Your Spirits

Craft distilleries are often born from the dreams of one person, or maybe a couple of friends who have an idea for a better or unique brand of spirit. Passionate people will plan out everything from the tasting room to how they will handle every step of the distilling process.

Taking the Que from Craft Beer

Taking the Que from Craft Beer

Beer hasn’t been doing all that well over the last few years. Most of the blame is focused on everyone’s favorite economic scapegoat the millennials. The more health conscious and frugal demographic tends to favor wine and spirits when it comes to alcohol.

Craft Distilling--Still Growing

Craft Distilling--Still Growing

It wasn’t that many years ago that a few brave individuals looked at the liquor industry and thought, “I can do it better!” Talk about a daunting task. Wanting to create a better bottle of whiskey, rum, or bourbon in a market that was both glutted and controlled by industry giants with their mega distilleries that filled liquor store shelves with endless gallons of mediocre spirits must have looked like a fool's errand to most people. In the end, quality not only won out, but it also became a significant player in the distilling industry to the point that all the big boys are shaking in their Underroos. Craft distilling is doing better than just good, as the 2017 Craft Spirits Data Project shows.

The Benefit of Hitting the Trade Shows

The Benefit of Hitting the Trade Shows

One common question going through the minds of people who have never attended a trade show is if it’s worth it? The flight or long drive, the cost of rooms, food, and often the price just to get in the door at a venue can climb into the thousands of dollars before you know it. And that’s before grabbing souvenirs for the kids or factoring in the cost of being away from the office. After all, won’t every distillery be posting all the cool things they have planned on Twitter and Instagram while live streaming it on Facebook? Probably so, but catching up on a few social media shares the next day is a poor substitute for being there in person.

Hooch Trends 2018

Hooch Trends 2018

No industry is static. Consumer tastes change, and so does society for that matter. What was taboo or relegated to the realm of stupid ideas a generation ago is the next generation's normal. This applies to the liquor industry too.

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.

New Years Resolutions for Distilleries

New Years Resolutions for Distilleries

As we languish in the midst of the Christmas hangover (not a literal hangover, but the quiet after the storm of family, road trips to see them, and all the wrapping paper and toys scattered on the floor), we look into the future. Or at least a week away into New Year’s Day. That magical day, for some reason, where we reevaluate our life decisions and get inspired to make permanent and drastic changes that last almost until the end of January. That’s when gym memberships spike. It’s the typical “New year. New me.” B.S. we roll our eyes at when that one friend we have says they are going to change.

Seasonal Pop Up Bars

Seasonal Pop Up Bars

We have all been to or at least head about bars and restaurants with crazy themes or a gimmick to get people through the door. Maybe the most well-known is the 20s style speakeasies all gussied up like a prohibition era bar, complete with a flapper on her iPhone. There are also your basic theme restaurants which are all over big tourist spots. Nashville has several “honky-tonks” around 2nd Avenue that look like a mix of saloons and cattle barns, sans the smell. We also have the big chains like Planet Hollywood and The Hard Rock Café in places like Vegas and L.A.

One Step Closer to Reform

One Step Closer to Reform

Times change, but often our laws don't. We all have a good laugh when we read a random article about how in some state still has a law on the books where automobile drivers are legally required to get out and dismantle their vehicle if some farmer's horse is too afraid to go around it.

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.

5 Whiskey Trends 2017

5 Whiskey Trends 2017

Whenever anything gains popularity with a new crowd or a new generation of consumers that comes along, some level of change always follows it. Music and fashion are the first things that come to mind since we can turn on the radio and see what people are wearing to the dying meccas of local retail. The liquor industry is no different. Millennials are a key element in this change, but not the only thing. Even longtime customers want a change of pace now and then.

The Importance of Packaging

The Importance of Packaging

The most important thing a craft distiller must do is make a great product. It could be whiskey, rum, vodka, or any spirit, but whatever it is, it has to be good. It has to be better than good, really.

What is a Petition's Chance?

What is a Petition's Chance?

Everyone in the craft distilling business wants a level playing field where a small operation isn’t overburdened by rules and regulations that the bigger distilleries can overcome by their sheer volume of sales and lobbyists. Buying a politician, or even renting their ear for a meaningful amount of time isn’t in the budgetary possibilities of most independent distillers. This means that we have to take another route, and a popular way to do that is via petition.

New Tax Reform Could Help Small Craft Distilleries

New Tax Reform Could Help Small Craft Distilleries

I say it would be hard to find anyone in the liquor business that is 100% behind what the government does to us. And that feeling doesn’t have anything to do with which party is in power either.

Accounting for Alternating Proprietorships & Contract Distilling

Accounting for Alternating Proprietorships & Contract Distilling

One increasingly common practice in the liquor industry is contract distilling or having alternating proprietorships. With the maze of laws and regulations that the states and federal bodies force distilleries to go through, it should come as no surprise that bringing in someone else adds to the complication. The TTB red tape is enough of a headache as it is. And if generic accounting software like QuickBooks doesn't handle the standard side of a distillery's books all that well, it will turn contract distilling and alternating proprietorships into an absolute horror show.

Distillery Tour Wishlist: Jim Beam, Clermont, Kentucky

Distillery Tour Wishlist: Jim Beam, Clermont, Kentucky

I was thinking of other distilleries to visit from around the world, trying to imagine all the exotic and far off places that are doing great things in the realm of liquor and spirits. Then I remembered the adage that any place is exotic if you aren't from there. So why not give a Kentucky distillery a try. I am also taking a step away from the non-traditional and craft distilleries to see what one of the big boys are doing. So, let’s take a look at what Jim Beam is up to these days.

Distillery Tour Bucket List--Mackmyra Distillery

Distillery Tour Bucket List--Mackmyra Distillery

When it comes to making whiskey, there are several places you can mention which will automatically paint a vivid picture of how it is connected to whiskey production. The big ones that come to mind are Scotland, where we get Scotch. After that, we can imagine small town Kentucky and old-fashioned distilleries that used to be there. We can’t forget bootleggers in the various hills and mountains of Tennessee, Arkansas, or wherever a still could be hidden from revenuers. This isn’t even taking into consideration the new era of craft breweries that combine old style techniques and a modern spirit, like those all throughout Washington State. There are lots of places that can spring to mind.

Distillery Tour Bucket List--Suntory-Hakushu-Distillery

Distillery Tour Bucket List--Suntory-Hakushu-Distillery

Travel is something that is on the top of everyone’s wish and bucket lists. It doesn't matter where, people want to see new things and have a few different once in a lifetime experience. It could be the old romantic finally booking that flight to Paris or the retired couple loading up the RV and visiting every state in the US where wheels can get them. For us though, it would be hitting some of the best and most fantastic distilleries in the world. My first stop on my wish list that I would hope to visit for real someday is Suntory Hakushu Distillery in beautiful Yamanashi, Japan.

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.

Toasting Dad This Father’s Day

Toasting Dad This Father’s Day

Once again, it’s time for Father’s Day. The people who created this holiday really knew what they were doing by putting it after Mother’s Day. For one, it keeps mom happy. Second, Mother’s Day is more expensive. The gifts have to be more extravagant, the restaurants nicer, etc. Even the cards have more thought behind them and are fancier. This extra cost and effort can leave a kid’s wallet somewhat depleted once Father’s Day rolls around. All is not lost though.

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."

Blended Whiskey

Blended Whiskey

Every product or industry has its basic products that can be described in one or two words, but go much deeper than most people realize. Take muscle cars, for example. They are more than just a sedan with a powerful engine. There are gear ratios in the transmission, the kind of tires, steering, and weight distribution that go into not only the design but the definition as well. The liquor industry has blended whiskey, which is just as complex.

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.

The Worst of the Three-Tier System

The Worst of the Three-Tier System

Anyone who has worked in the liquor industry for any amount of time knows that the three-tier system only benefits a select few while simultaneously screwing over both the producer and the consumer. However, there are some states where this is system is more intrusive and harmful than others. While the laws and regulations that govern a given state’s three-tier nightmare can vary, the actual motivation on why it is the way it is can boil down to two things – moralism and money.

So, You Want to be a Whiskey Collector

So, You Want to be a Whiskey Collector

Whiskey collection can become a profitable hobby if you learn the right way to buy, sell and trade. The trick to making it profitable is to learn what you are doing. A schooled collector knows which bottles have the potential to grow in value. He knows when to sell and when to wait.

Spring Drinks for Everyone

Spring Drinks for Everyone

Spring is such a weird time of the year. Sure, it's beautiful. We get the see the colorful blooms and the landscape go from winter gray to a living shade of green. That winter chill finally gets chased away too. What makes it weird is how it rolls through different parts of the country. For people in the Northeast, the first part of spring means there are only one or two snow storms left in the season. For southerners, it means warm, breezy days with light tornados later in the afternoon. For many, spring is a magical two days before summer roasts everyone, and at least one or two people is reading this are asking, "What's a season?".

Why Vodka Deserves Respect

Why Vodka Deserves Respect

Vodka hasn’t always gotten the respect it deserves, and some of that dismissiveness is understandable, if unwarranted. From a purely scientific standpoint, vodka is literally just water and ethanol. Even the official government definition says vodka is a flavorless alcohol. Translation – it isn’t all that complex or exciting. For distillers, vodka brings its own issues. The repeated distillations needed to make vodka makes it expensive to produce, which is ironic considering how simple and plain the end product is. This leads many of the craft distilleries to make flavored vodka and infusions or as a base for something like gin instead of straight up vodka.

Biggest Bar Trends of 2017

Biggest Bar Trends of 2017

One of the first rules of business is that you have to give the customers what they want. It’s a simple enough concept, but some people seem to have a knack for screwing it up. Maybe it’s because they think they already know everything, or they’re so enamored with what they want to do as a business they can’t see what they need to do. Either way, ignoring trends isn't the wisest move a business can make. Even if it isn't a trend, they can be a part of, adjusting plans to handle the impact it will have on the industry is important.

Want to Start a Craft Distillery? Consider This

Want to Start a Craft Distillery? Consider This

The desire to start one’s own distillery always seems to start with a moment of clarity – a drink from some generic, big brand whisky followed by the realization, “I could make better whisky than this.” Even if you’ve been a fan of good craft whiskey for years, you have probably been sipping your favorite brand and imaging what magic in a bottle you could make. After all, the real mark of greatness is that it inspires more greatness. What does it take to start your own distillery? A lot of work for starters, but there are some other things to consider before you begin building your rackhouse.

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.

Finding the Perfect Barrel for Hooch

Finding the Perfect Barrel for Hooch

When it comes to distilling, finding the perfect barrel to make your spirits is an easy journey to start, but not so easy to finish. It's like everything in this industry. There is and always will be the cheap and easy way to do things. We've seen liquor manufacturers put great effort into making the most significant amount of booze, for the lowest cost possible. And most of us have also had the misfortune of tasting those results, either from youthful inexperience before we understood how much quality matters, or just because it was there.

Best Craft Liquor Trade Show Giveaway

Best Craft Liquor Trade Show Giveaway

Trade shows are the time for a craft distillery to stand out and shine, and show the world why their brand of liquor is a cut above the rest. The only problem is that everyone else is also doing that, and chances are their product is also excellent – different, but every bit as good. This is when the cold hard gods of marketing need to be called on. Distilleries have to get their product noticed, or they aren’t going to make it. Chances are, you already have the samples ready to go, but there is still more to do.

Inauguration Inebriation

Inauguration Inebriation

Well, the big day is here. Inauguration Day. Now we get to see the peaceful transfer of power from the president to president-elect of the most powerful and influential nation in history. Half of you will see this as a rollback of the progress made on many fronts over the last fifty years. The other half will see today as the first day of a brighter future where the shackles will have been taken off the economy, after nearly two decades of malaise, and prosperity will return to all. To each his own. Don’t let this day, and your views on it ruin your relationships.

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.

Distilleries of the Past

Distilleries of the Past

It’s easy to get caught up in the romanticism of the “good ole' days." In the liquor industry, we actively try and do as much as we can the same way it was done a century or two ago, at least when it comes to the actual craft of making the product. Sure, some labor-saving machines increase production scale. And, don't forget the backend lifesavers like accounting software that keep you compliant with the man. But, we still use oak barrels and rackhouses instead of plastic vats and a glorified lab.

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.

Choosing the Right Distillery Software

Choosing the Right Distillery Software

There’s a good chance that, if you happen to be a distillery owner or are part of the management team of one, google has slipped several ads for distillery software into the webpages you visit. There are a ton of choices out there, but just like the liquor industry, there are the top-shelf accounting software suites and the bottom of the barrel rotgut some companies churn out to turn a quick buck. There’s a good chance that, if you happen to be a distillery owner or are part of the management team of one, google has slipped several ads for distillery software into the webpages you visit. There are a ton of choices out there, but just like the liquor industry, there are the top-shelf accounting software suites and the bottom of the barrel rotgut some companies churn out to turn a quick buck.

The Best Hot Drinks to Fight off the Chill

The Best Hot Drinks to Fight off the Chill

I might be channeling Yogi Berra a little bit here, but one of the best things about the weather turning cold is keeping warm. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve been running errands all weekend on a damp winter day, or if you’ve been out hunting since before sunup. That chill will seep into your bones, and getting back into a warm house where you can call it a day is one of the best feelings in the world. Why not make it better by topping it off with a hot drink? Here are a few drinks to give you the ideal pick me up.

The History of "Bottled-In-Bond"

The History of "Bottled-In-Bond"

As a small business owner, working in a heavily regulated industry, having to deal with all the rules and red tape to get even the simplest things done can grate on the nerves something terrible. It seems like every other week there is either a new rule we have to work with, or an existing one gets made more complicated. And the government is strict with all sides of the liquor industry. Other businesses can get away with a lot more than we can.

Whiskey Econ 101

Whiskey Econ 101

One of the big questions lots of people asks when they get that first idea about opening a distillery is, “How is the hard liquor market doing?” They probably already heard enough that it’s doing well, but how well? Is it just the big boys raking in the cash or can a small independent operator make a good living?

Legal Liquor in Alabama and What it Means to You

Legal Liquor in Alabama and What it Means to You

Well about a year ago, The John Emerald Distilling Company put out the first whisky to be legally distilled in Alabama in 100 years. That’s wonderful news. It was a pretty small batch, but a lucky few get to sample some wonder regional liquor from the Yellow Hammer State. It also highlights a major problem facing many men and women with dreams of opening their own distillery.

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.

Finding the Perfect Distillery Solution Supplier

Finding the Perfect Distillery Solution Supplier

One thing about the distillery industry is that nothing ever stays the same. As soon as a new bunch of politicians get elected, there comes the new and/or changed laws and regulations – usually right after we just got used to the old ones. There also seems to be a new trend popping up every other week, for better or worse. And new markets emerge along with other distilleries trying to do the same thing you are.

What You Need to Know When the TTB Calls

What You Need to Know When the TTB Calls

We all know what the TTB is, and we also know that we will all get a visit from them one day. It’s an unavoidable part of running a distillery. A lot of owners like to put on a brave face, and act like getting audited is no big deal. All their books are in order, and they got nothing to hide. The same can be said of most distilleries, but dealing with an agency that has that much power over your livelihood is nerve-racking on principle.

5 Things Craft Distilleries Need to Know about Generation Z

5 Things Craft Distilleries Need to Know about Generation Z

First off, they aren’t Millennials, but they are close. Also keep in mind that half of them aren’t quite legal drinking age yet, so be careful you don’t pull a Phillip Morris by targeting those too young to legally buy your booze. Even by accident.

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.

Favorite Presidential Hard Drinks

Favorite Presidential Hard Drinks

Every job has its own bits of stress that goes along with it, and that goes double for being President of the United States. Even during the years without wars and depressions, there’s always the other headaches that come from running the country. Past or present it doesn’t matter. It’s no surprise that most of our presidents liked a drink or three to deal with the long days, or to start one off. Most of them stuck to beers, wine, or various kinds of liquor. Not that there’s anything wrong with those choices, but a few of our past leaders liked drinks that were a little more exotic or exciting.

5 Habits of Successful Distillery Owners

5 Habits of Successful Distillery Owners

It takes more than big dreams and good recipes to run a successful distillery. Just because it’s a passion doesn’t mean that it isn’t a business that needs all the usual attention a business requires. It takes a lot to make a distillery successful. Going in willy-nilly and hoping things spontaneously work out is a sure way to failure. Some industry veterans will give any budding distillery owner tons of advice - some good, some more of an entertaining anecdote. It’s a great way to learn. If you don’t get a chance to talk to one of these gurus, here are five things to keep in mind if you want your distillery to be a success.

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.

Speakeasies—A Look at Selling Craft Whiskey in the Past

Speakeasies—A Look at Selling Craft Whiskey in the Past

When a mouthy bunch of paranoid people got the beer and liquor banned in the United States, there were scores of restaurants and bars that were forced to shut down. It’s hard to run a business when the very product you sell suddenly becomes illegal. Many of these were old establishments that had been run by the same family for generations, while others were startups built by people reaching for the American dream. All of it was gone, and the fallout was that no one had a place to legally gather and drink with their friends.

A Lesson in Rackhouse and Proof

A Lesson in Rackhouse and Proof

Most people go through life enjoying whatever products they use, without ever considering what it takes to make them, let alone make them good. It’s human nature. We have enough on our minds without wasting time wondering how they get the plastic straws wrapped up in their paper sheaths. Still, some things are more important than plastic straws and people should know how much work goes into making something amazing. And by something amazing, I mean craft whiskey and bourbon, or any worthwhile liquor.

The Hardest State to Start a Distillery

The Hardest State to Start a Distillery

Saying which state is the hardest to open a craft distillery in is a hard question to answer. The laws and regulations in one state are different than another, plus there’s the federal regulations to deal with, but they each poses their own unique problems that will be harder for some to beat than others. Some states have old laws still on the books from back during prohibition, others laws are there because of modern moralist/ temperance fanatics. Then you have the ones that are there to protect the people making all the money.

Top 7 Summer Spirited Drinks

Top 7 Summer Spirited Drinks

Seasons often trigger the senses. And as the seasons changes, so does our palate. So it makes sense that certain craft spirits taste better during particular seasons. With summer quickly approaching, it’s time to stock up on the right craft spirits to keep your taste buds tantalized. Here is a list of the seven best spirited beverages for summer.

Distilling the Past

Distilling the Past

There is no escaping the impact moonshine and distillers have had on the world and pop culture. NASCAR was born from moonshiners’ modding their cars to smuggle the booze and outrun the cops. The Dukes of Hazard was rooted in this legacy. (Bonus points if you knew the show was based off the 1975 movie Moonrunners, which was inspired by true events.)

Put a Lid on the Barrel Management Nightmare

Put a Lid on the Barrel Management Nightmare

For some craft distillers, finding a barrel in the warehouse is comparable to finding metaphorical homework your dog ate. Yes, you know you did it, but you have no clue where it is or even where to begin looking. In rows of literally hundreds upon hundreds of whiskey barrels, it’s like looking for one special needle in a pile of needles…