The Spirits of 3 Countries

The Spirits of 3 Countries

In the middle of the media and political circus centered around the Kavanaugh confirmation process, there may have been an important piece of news for distilleries that went unnoticed. NAFTA has been renegotiated and is now called the United States Mexico Canada Agreement or USMCA.

1834 Federal Law Stops Native American Distilleries

1834 Federal Law Stops Native American Distilleries

Every once in a while, I come across a piece of information that is hard for me to believe is true. Most of the time it’s science or tech, like Pluto no longer being called a planet or octopuses possibly being alien organisms.

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.

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.

How Your Distillery Can Simplify Year End Paperwork

How Your Distillery Can Simplify Year End Paperwork

Wouldn't it be nice if all we had to do to complete our year-end reports was to press one single button, and POOF…it would all be magically done? Yes, it would. And maybe when some genius finally creates an accounting-bot (a Hooch-Bot) like something from Star Wars that will do everything for you. Until we figure out a way to make a real-life Hooch-Bot, you have Hoochware. It's close to a Hooch-bot already. It just lives in your browser instead of beeping around the office.

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.

More than Proof Gallons

More than Proof Gallons

It’s only been a short while since President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, and if you are like me, the reality of these much needed and wanted changes is still sinking in. For distillery owners, this is as close as it gets to winning the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes without Ed McMahon rising from the grave and knocking on the front door.

Ways to Capitalize on the New Tax Laws

Ways to Capitalize on the New Tax Laws

As of this writing, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act hasn’t officially received the final vote, and signed into law. It looks more than likely that it will come to be, but as strange a political season that the last two years were, anything can happen. I don’t want to risk jinxing it.

One Step Closer to Tax Reform

One Step Closer to Tax Reform

Most of the news coming out of Washington is about how our dysfunctional legislators can't get along with each other. As a result, deals on essential matters are going down in flames due to infighting, the usual tweet storms, and senseless drama. So, it's nice to hear it when something good is finally being accomplished. This goes double when it’s about something near and dear to our hearts, like distilled spirits. The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, Senate bill S. 236 and HR 747 are one step closer to becoming law.

5 Ways Distillery Software Simplifies Running a Craft Distillery

5 Ways Distillery Software Simplifies Running a Craft Distillery

Running a distillery is hard work, and it isn’t just in the physical labor side of things we are talking about here. The owner and managers are always on the move. There are the usual things like playing phone tag with vendors, staff meetings, meeting outgoing orders, reordering ingredients, bottles, and other raw materials. Then there are the wildcard days where you find out that part of the rackhouse’s roof is leaking, the company van decides to break down on the interstate, or a critical worker calls out with the flu on the worst possible day to call out on. Once all those fires are contained, it’s time to make sure all the paperwork is in order – assuming it wasn’t the paperwork that had to be done in the middle of said fires.

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.

Pennsylvania's Big Money Mess

Pennsylvania's Big Money Mess

It really says something about a state when their liquor laws are so messed up and broken that there is an entire Wikipedia page devoted to the mess that it is. Pennsylvania is that state. The liquor laws there is a culmination of general government mismanagement of their monopoly, regulation hell, moral busybodies forcing their views on others, the abuse of the three-tier system, and a string of other bad decisions made over the course of generations. Even selling beer there is a bureaucratic nightmare of red tape, which comes back to make the lives of consumers needlessly complicated.

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.

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."

7 Crazy Alcohol Laws Still in Effect

7 Crazy Alcohol Laws Still in Effect

Between temperance moralists wanting to create as much of a backdoor version of prohibition as they can and the politician's desire to squeeze every cent they can out of booze, the alcohol industry is bombarded by strange and arcane laws. And the stronger the booze, the more likely it is for a beverage to be hit by said laws. This usually shows up as legislation that prevents liquor sales in grocery stores or barring alcohol sales on Sundays. We have gotten used to those as being a fact of life, but some laws are just plain bat-$#!* crazy. Some are more funny than practical, but others are the kind that can put the damper on a good time while simultaneously not doing anything to fix the problems they were meant to solve. Take a look at a few of these.

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.

The Three-Tiered System: The Plague on Your Craft Distillery’s Distribution

The Three-Tiered System: The Plague on Your Craft Distillery’s Distribution

One of the biggest problems for a distillery, or any alcoholic beverage producer, is the three-tier distribution system. The three-tier system began in the early 1930’s shortly after the end of Prohibition as a way for states to control how and to what extent alcoholic beverages are distributed and sold. Now this scam on liquor makers has grown even more archaic and irrelevant, even though it’s 100% binding. Like with everything, the three-tier system is supposed to be for our own good, but what is it really?

Tax Tips for Distilleries

Tax Tips for Distilleries

With April 15th fast approaching, let’s all hope that everyone has already gotten started or already filed their taxes. Now, let’s swallow a dose of reality and remember that there are more than a few looking at a pile of paperwork with tears streaming down their cheeks screaming, “Oh God! What do I do now?” It’s a stressful time, even if you don’t owe anything.

The Water of Life, or Whiskey if You’re Irish

The Water of Life, or Whiskey if You’re Irish

Saint Patrick’s Day is a fine holiday. Something about getting rid of snakes, and achieving sainthood. It’s probably quite an interesting story, but I always end up coming back around to what makes the day great – whiskey. Specifically, Irish Whiskey because green beer doesn’t cut it.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Taxman Loves Your Liquor

The Taxman Loves Your Liquor

We all know that old saying, “The only sure things in life are death and taxes.” It’s also ironic how much liquor is taxed, considering taxes are one of the big reasons we have the occasional drink. We all understand that taxes are a necessary evil…part of the time. We need roads, a strong military, and good schools. What our tax dollars all too often get us are shrimp running on treadmills and schools that produce high school graduates who can’t read the diploma they’re given.