Craft Spirits Magazine December 2019

Page 66

Binny’s has 41 locations across Illinois.

Take the heart of every craft distillery: its story. That’s something boutique retailers might find more relevant than larger stores whose staff can’t possibly rattle off the back story of every bourbon on the shelves. “The effective distilleries do well when they come in without an entourage, when it’s literally just them and they talk about having a passion for the industry. It’s really fun to hear that and understand their background,” says Erik Archambeault, owner of Rogers Park Provisions, a small Chicago market and liquor store. “It’s super easy nowadays to take a picture of the product I’m tasting, send it off

Cardinal Spirits

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to the staff and tell them ‘Hey this is the story behind this.’” But that’s not the information most important to Patrick Brophy, director of spirits sales for Binny’s, which has 41 locations and more than 1,500 employees across Illinois. Brophy leads weekly spirits education classes for small groups of staff, and he says it all comes down to what’s in the bottle. “Connect what you’re doing in the stillhouse with how those decisions and what you do differently in there affects what’s in the bottle,” Brophy says. “Any way a supplier can take details from the production level

and convey that to what someone sees in the bottle, we’re interested.” Brophy says he’d ideally like to see “nuts and bolts” details such as the mash bill, barrel entry proof, filtration information and fermentation time on a sales sheet that he could share with staff, as opposed to “marketing fluff.” So while a story, location and branding might matter greatly to how retail staff at a small store educates consumers on a product, that same information could be largely irrelevant to a multi-store retailer’s employees. At least there’s one asset both types of retailers agree is useful: product. “We ask brands to leave some behind not just for our customers to taste but staff as well,” Archembault says. “You can’t go off words because everyone has a different palate. We encourage staff to open a bottle, sample it off and tell the story behind it.” ■

Kate Bernot is a reporter covering beer, food, and spirits. She was formerly an editor at The Takeout and DRAFT Magazine; she now regularly writes for Good Beer Hunting, Craft Beer & Brewing, and other publications. She is a certified beer judge and lives in Missoula, Montana, with three backyard chickens and a well-stocked bar cart.

C R AF T S PI R I T S MAG .CO M


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