Page 1

Summer 2013

is your Profit Evaporating? a new trade association joins the craft revolution


speedbumps on the road to Legal Compliance the Devil’s in the Details a Micro-Distiller tells all

the rise of

craft distilling guilds




Table of contents A Letter From the Editor


Taking a Long Shot


Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

The Joys of Floor Drains


Jan’s Corner

“The Big Guy”


What can craft distillers learn from Jack Daniel’s?

Doing It Anyway10 The Story of the Kill Devil Spirit Co.

We the People12 The formation of the American Craft Distilling Association

Let’s Get Started32 Skip the 5 most common speedbumps on the road to legal compliance

Are You Ready?


The realities of opening a craft distillery

From Boat to Bottle


Bluewater Distilling

First Impressions



American Distilling Institute 2013


An emerging distiller’s perspective



From Function to Recognizable Design and Purpose

A Brand New Day


Painted Stave Distilling


Lessons learned on the road to legalization in Delaware

Small Company. Big Vision.


Loggerhead Deco

Taking Back the Angel’s Share43

The Spirit of Cooperation23 How State Distillers’ Guilds are Making the Industry Better

Be The Change

AGRA Trading

Advertiser index from the Cover

On the cover: Spring44, distillery of Colorado Distillers Guild President Rob Masters. Photo by Petra Lansky.


Volume 1 Issue 3 Summer 2013

a little of what we do.


Rockwell Rutter


Brian Christensen

Creative Director

Amanda Joy Christensen


Amanda Joy Christensen Andrew Faulkner Firefly Imageworks Yip Ho Petra Lansky Jan Morris Lisa Simpson




Jason Barrett Lanette Faulkinberry Ron Gomes Chris Lozier Jim McCoy Jan Morris Katie Pyle Mike Rasmussen Lisa Simpson

Sales & Marketing

Ashley Monroe

Artisan Spirit magazine is a quarterly magazine by Artisan Craft Distilling University General Inquiries (509) 944-5919 Advertising (509) 991-8112

703 W. 7th Ave. Suite 220 Spokane, WA 99204 All contents © 2013. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Neither Artisan Craft Distilling University nor Artisan Spirit magazine assume responsibility for errors in content, photos or advertisements. While Artisan Spirit makes every effort to ensure accuracy in our content, the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. We urge our readers to consult with professional service providers to meet their unique needs. At Artisan Spirit, we take the opportunity to enjoy many different craft spirits and adult beverages. However, it’s also our responsibility, and yours, to always drink responsibly. Know your limit, and never drink and drive. Artisan Spirit’s number one goal is to share and celebrate the art and science of artisan craft distilling. But please remember to follow all the laws, regulations, and safety procedures. Be safe, be legal and we can all be proud of the industry we love.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Our mission at Artisan Spirit Magazine is to share and celebrate the art and science of artisan craft distilling. We are humbled by the support and sponsorship provided by Bruni, Pharmco-Aaper, Rogue Spirits, St. Louis Litho, and Tapi. With their help, we can further our common goals of supporting creativity, innovation, and integrity within the industry we all love so much. Bruni Glass was founded in Milan in 1974. Bruni Glass’s core business is the design of new forms of packaging. The technical staff takes great care in trying to understand the latest aesthetic trends imposed by marketing, taking into consideration the limitations of filling and closing technologies. The company’s in-house staff of designers and its research and development team have turned the company into one of the market leaders in terms of innovation and technology.

PHARMCO-AAPER produces Grain Neutral Spirits with total control and ownership of the alcohol from raw corn kernel to finished product. The entire operating system is fully dedicated from their production plant, railcars, storage tanks and filling equipment through to the final package. With ISO, Kosher and Organic operations, lot-to-lot testing, TTB expertise, multiple packaging options and 9 DSP warehouses across the USA, they provide absolute consistency and absolute quality from batch-to-batch to the beverage industry.

Celebrating their 10th Anniversary, Rogue Spirits is an artisan varietal distillery creating award winning, multi-ingredient small batch spirits on traditional hand crafted copper pot stills. Rogue Spirits has won 140 awards for taste, quality and packaging and are available in 45 states and 5 countries. Since 2008, Rogue has remained committed to saving the terroir of Oregon hops and barley, one acre at a time by growing, malting, roasting and smoking their own.

St. Louis Litho has three locations nationwide with over 130 years of combined printing experience. The team at St. Louis Litho proudly serves their customers and works with them to build long term relationships that anticipate their future needs so that they can grow together. With digital, flexo and offset printing capabilities and a wide range of finishing techniques, St. Louis Litho can service

An AC Label Company

every aspect of your print packaging needs.

For over 60 years our company has produced cork stoppers and a wide variety of bottle closures. Family-owned and operated since its inception, Tapi USA continues to develop new products and enter new markets. Tapi USA is proud to support the growth of the artisan distillery industry and is honored to be the Bottle Closure Sponsor for the Artisan Craft Distilling University and Artisan Spirit Magazine.

Seriously. Thank you.


A Letter From the Editor: It’s easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm for the future of craft distilling. The industry’s skyrocketing growth is hard to miss, and makes

That conversation, more than any other, illuminated the vast

for an exciting topic of conversation. The future seems so bright

workload each and every craft distiller faces on a daily basis. I realize part of our job is to

that it’s easy to lose sight of just how much is happening here and now. Sometimes we forget to live in the moment.

Meeting so many of you at the ADI conference in Denver was such a great thrill. You’re a fun bunch!

help wherever and whenever we can. One of the best ways to do that is to gather and

Industry changes are not

share the information that you

just on the horizon, they have

need most. If you want more

already reached our doorstep.

news and information on the

Just in the last few months

legal side of the industry, then

we have seen the formation

say the word. Or perhaps you

and announcement of a new

want more stories of individual

trade association helmed by


a who’s‑who of major players

their community and finding



in the industry (see page 12).

suppliers. Maybe you need

Laws are changing on an

a more reliable source of








tasting opportunities in WA

strategies and sales campaigns.

and OR, tax reductions in

Perhaps you want us to tackle

British Columbia, DE pushing

the topic of truth in labeling.

through legislation to allow craft distilling (see page 39), the

Whatever the case may be, we intend to find the information

NY distillers guild lobbying to update the federal excise tax for

and ask the questions you want answers to. Let us know what

craft distillers, and the list goes on. Many of you are on the front lines directly driving the growth

topics and education you think Artisan Spirit Magazine should cover next.

and effecting the changes we are seeing. Yet, most distillers

And remember, take a moment and appreciate that you are

are focused on something even more important to them: their

experiencing one of the defining periods of the craft distilling

craft. While attending ADI in Denver this year I had a great

industry. You are living in the good old days, today.

opportunity to discuss what a regular day looked like for craft distillers. During one such conversation, I was informed of the myriad duties my new friend was responsible for. Including, but not limited to: communicating with distributions, drumming up

Brian Christensen

purchase orders, attempting to fill purchase orders, managing production staff, ordering supplies, gathering additional financing, budgeting resources, directing marketing campaigns,


handling social networking, working with the state guild, fielding


questions from startups, and so on. The distiller in question finished his job description by adding, “And sometimes I even


(509) 944-5919 703 W. 7th Ave. Suite 220 Spokane, WA 99204

make whiskey...” 7

jan’s corner



written by Jan Morris photos courtesy of The Hardware Distillery Co.


Floor Drains W

hen we first started thinking of starting a distillery, we

holes in the floors and large gaps in the old hardwood floors, I

sought advice from everyone. With respect to the building, like to call ‘self-draining’. No need to invest in floor drains here,

we were mostly advised about location and size. Only one person

told us about floor drains. So far, I have found this to have been one of the best pieces of advice, ever. We included floor drains in our plans and had three large

or so I thought. Most of the holes have been plugged, but some were missed. Last summer a little girl was fascinated with the floor holes in the tasting room, and kept trying to push candy through them.

ones installed in our production area. I dearly love each one of Finally she succeeded and was reduced to tears. I believe that them. The floor drains are near our stills, and I have learned that stills and spills go hand in hand. The floor drains are put to use everyday.

there is a saying about this. Some of our fermentation takes place in these self draining areas. While we were at the ADI conference in Denver one of

Our distillery is an older building, and before it fell into

our fermenters, which was full of fruit honey mead, tipped over.

disrepair, it had been a hardware store. The floor is uneven, and

While we were miles away and blissfully unaware, the spillage

in the location of our floor drains, this is especially true. So, a

oozed its way into the holes and cracks in the floor. From there

large squeegee is indispensable.

the sticky mass flowed, like a warm moist glacier, into the

One of our first mishaps involved a river of foam. We were

basement. This sounds like it might be good news, but it landed

alerted something was terribly wrong when we saw something

everywhere. We have spent many hours scrubbing, and the job is

odd in the parrot’s beak at the beginning of a run. We opened the

not done. If only we had floor drains everywhere!

still, and this beautiful gold foam began gushing out like a river,

Floor drains. They can bring great happiness, and you cannot

and there appeared to be no stopping it. It just kept coming. We

have too many of them. If you are looking for advice on your

ran back and forth with buckets trying to catch it as it poured

building and layout, this is the best that I can give to you.

out, but there was foam everywhere. At least it was pretty and smelled nice. Once again, floor drains to the rescue.

Jan Morris owns and distills at the Hardware Distillery Co. with her

Because our building was a hardware store there are lots of husband Chuck. They are located in Hoodsport, WA. For more info visit holes in the floor. These parts of the building, where there are or call (206) 300-0877.


D o i n g It A n y way the story of the Kill Devil Spirit Co.

by Rockwell Rutter


Photography by Yip Ho and Art Direction by Alfredo Vilano


hey say that youth is wasted on the young. Ray Digilio, 31-year old founder and CEO of Kill Devil Spirit Co. (San Diego, CA) begs to differ. He’s put his youthful energy and innovative ideas to work since he started his distillery in 2011. In the past

couple years, he’s built quite a following around his spirits, and currently exists as the only “all craft” micro-distillery in southern California. They even took home the Bronze medal for their “Ugly California Moonshine” at the World Spirits Competition this year (it’s a wild combination of flaked rye and Caramel Vienna malt, fermented in open cypress wood tanks). For all their success, Ray had to overcome some obstacles along the way. But by working with local resources like home brewers, guilds and other distilleries, he was able to cut through the challenges and emerge victorious. We asked him what he considered to be the biggest obstacles new distillers should watch out for, and this is what he had to say:

Lack of Understanding:

We were

Lack of Financial Support:

continually rejected in the search for a warehouse in which We were too broke to buy large and automated manufacturing we could manufacture distilled spirits. It became evident that equipment and were initially concerned that this lack of funding landlords and people in general, are afraid of the things they would pose as a barrier to entry in the market. We were told by do not understand. The only way to overcome that obstacle is “experts” to make larger purchases, produce higher amounts of to explain the “magic” of distillation as a high school science spirits or face an inevitable demise. This turned out not to be the teacher would explain the “magic” of gravity; that is, that there case. We have come across many mixologists and retailers that is no magic involved at all.

are specifically attracted to our distillery because of its unusually small or “nano” capacities.


Lack of Time in the Day:


you are gifted a large sum of money or you have accumulated a substantial amount of savings over your career you will need to have a day job to support your business. In addition to your day job it will become quite clear that the day job is actually less demanding than perfecting the craft of distillation (and fermentation if you do not have prior experience). Much like learning how to play a musical instrument, distilling takes many long hours of concentration and can sometimes be quite tedious. If you plan on having a social life in the beginning or even a love life for that matter, you may want to consider keeping the craft a hobby instead of a lifelong profession.

Government Red Tape: It took years for us to get through all of the red tape. We had to lease a warehouse space, buy equipment, and sit on the associated costs for nearly a year before we got our basic permit. The best advice I can give to someone who is applying for state and federal licensing is BE NICE TO THEM!

Working with Distributors: There is only one thing that comes to mind when I think of a major distributor: MONEY. When you are starting out as small as us, distributors could care less about who you are or what you are trying to bring to the market. That’s why it’s so important to reach out to your consumers, build a dialog with them and create demand from the ground up. This is the most important aspect of our success. There is no doubt that one of the barriers a new distillery may encounter is the fact that even if thousands of people want to purchase your product the demand cannot be serviced until a distributor gives you the green light. Give them a reason. Don’t be discouraged by what you’ve just read. Anything worth doing is often difficult, and it is this difficulty that forces you to appreciate the eventual fruits of your labor. In fact, it can be said that were it not for the obstacles placed in the path, the craft distilling industry would be overrun by substandard participants and products. Let’s embrace the blood, sweat and tears that this art requires. When you see the look on your customers’ face the first time they sample your spirits, it will all be worth it.

Kill Devil Spirit Co. is located in San Diego, CA. Visit for more information. 11

t While words

these may




been spoken, this was the general idea when a few visionaries from the



together just a few short

We h


licensed Doing

producers. so


of the craft distilling industry, in order to form

that the future of the

an organization of protection, awareness and prosperity

organization is guided

for ourselves and our brethren, do ordain and establish the American Craft Distilling Association.

skin in the game, while still providing a valuable comers.

American Craft Distilling (ACDA).

by those who really have

resource for the up-and-

months ago to form the Association


by Rockwell Rutter



are based on a sliding

As an official 501(c)6 non-profit organization, ACDA has one simple goal: to promote

scale, dependent on how many proof gallons removed from bond

and protect artisan distilling in the United States. Ex-Officio

a distillery produces in a year. A small shop shipping out less

member Dave Pickerel says, “The trade organization is supposed

than 5,000 proof gallons annually can expect to pay around

to take people from the ends of the earth who are broadly $200, while the larger scale distillers producing up to 100,000 interested in the same goal, and bring them all together for the

annually will contribute about $5,000, with several levels in

common good.” Until now, distillers have been more or less on

between. ACDA is committed to bringing those dollars right

their own in trying to lobby support for our beloved industry; back to the distillers, however, with benefits like wholesaler and there simply wasn’t a strong unified voice. Now, these few brave

retailer support, member representation at trade shows, annual

souls aim to change that.

conferences and more.

With the experience and knowledge that this group is armed

With this kind of leadership in place, members can rest

with, they know the road ahead will be long and arduous. assured that ACDA will steadily move towards its goal of Executive Director Pennfield Jensen says, “One of the things

supporting the industry in any way possible. “Our focus will be

we’ve got going against us is the amount of misinformation that on brand building, public outreach, and advanced educational exists in the public and with lawmakers. It’s hard for the little

workshops and seminars. ACDA is not a lobbying organization,”

guy to go out on their own; that’s why we started ACDA.”

Jensen adds, “But we will support legislation that improves the

Strong organizations begin with a strong foundation. It’s easy

business environment of craft distillers on national and state

for a few people to come together with big hopes and dreams of levels.” One example of this strategy is the good relationship changing the face of an industry, but in order for there to be any ACDA has with DISCUS (Distilled Spirits Council of the United lasting power, a certain amount of structure has to be put into

States), a lobbying group working tirelessly to advance the

place. For example, while membership in ACDA is open to anyone, interests of distillers. voting rights are limited to only those members who are federally

Sometimes, being a good leader is knowing when not to


Officers President Rory Donovan Peachstreet Distillery Vice President Ted Huber Starlight Distillery Secretary/Treasurer Brett Joyce Rogue Ales & Spirits reinvent the wheel. Rather than becoming bogged down in bureaucratic red tape, ACDA elected to model the organization

Board Members

on a similar brewer’s association. Basing the general structure of ACDA (including the bylaws) on an already successful entity has

Ralph Erenzo Tuthilltown Distillery Todd Leopold Leopold Brothers Lee Medoff Bull Run Distillery Tom Potter NY Distilling Co. Chip Tate Balcones Distillery

allowed them to begin the real work in record time. As an added

Rick Wasmund Copper Fox Distillery Andrew Webber Corsair Artisan

Pickerell, “one of the things that has been kind of forgotten [in

benefit, this relationship brings craft brewers and craft distillers closer together, making both organizations even stronger and more powerful in the pursuit of their shared goals. Going forward, ACDA aims to expand their services in support of both new distilleries and those already established. Says other organizations] is the importance of not just supporting people when they are in the startup mode, but it’s also supporting people once they are fully operational.” With this in mind, ACDA

Ex Officio Member Dave Pickerell

plans to offer programs like subsidized internship programs, industry data reports and of course, good old-fashioned tasting competitions. It’s clearer than ever that exciting changes are happening in our industry. Like the craft brewing explosion that took place

Staff Pennfield Jensen Executive Director Leah Hutchinson Marketing Director

in the 1980’s, the voice of the craft distiller is growing ever louder. ACDA is taking on the job of coordinating the call for all craft distillers’  common needs and goals  so the message is shared by one joyful choir, rather than a screaming horde. The formation of the ACDA is a strong indication that the craft distilling industry is maturing in a healthy direction and building a foundation for future prosperity.

Visit for more information on the American Craft Distilling Association’s activities or to join. 13

Bluewater Distilling:






have enjoyed a tasty

libation or two aboard a boat, how many can say they created a

from Boat to Bottle

spirit on the water? For John and Jessica Lundin, this is more than just

Written by Rockwell Rutter

a crazy idea. Prior to starting Bluewater Distilling in Everett, WA, the husband and

Photography provided by Bluewater Distilling

wife team were avid sailing enthusiasts. One evening after discovering a bottle of wine had gone bad, they decided to distill it into something they might be able to drink. Unfortunately the experiment went as badly as the wine tasted, but it planted the seed of an idea that eventually led them to open up their own operation. John had grown up around homemade spirits; his mother was famous for a black currant liqueur created through a long-standing family recipe. It was only a matter of time before John decided to try his hand at craft distilling. Working in the construction technology field for many years instilled in John a “get-it-done” work ethic, which came in handy when starting Bluewater. “I developed Bluewater in the darkest depths of the recession, when capital was frozen,” says John. “It forced me to go back to the drawing board and tighten up budgets, making the operation as lean as possible.” In doing so, John and Jessica are proud to say they were able to open the distillery without taking on any venture capital money. The pair’s ability to find creative solutions to tricky problems didn’t stop


there. After selecting their building, John bought a MIG welder our own distillery now is being able to meet our customers and and set about building out the distillery exactly the way he have a conversation with them. My wife and I can always end the wanted it. “Everything in the shop was custom welded - from the day saying that we have the best customers.” firebox that supports my still to the bottling tables. I’ll continue to build equipment, and am currently working on a corking machine.”

Emboldened by their success, John and Jessica are looking toward






involvement is so important, they’ve started

With a unique distillery comes unique products. Bluewater has become

a guild called “Local Liquid Arts” which promotes craft beer, wine and spirits in

known for their 100% organic

Snohomish County, WA. They’re also

vodka and gin and is currently

involved with numerous community

one of only two distilleries

fundraisers, which allows them to

involved with the One Percent

reach out to new customers while

for the Planet Network, a non-

giving back to the community

profit group that works toward

that has been so kind to them.



Things inside the distillery aren’t

business practices. One of the

slowing down either. According

guiding principles of Bluewater

to John, “We’re hitting our sales


is their commitment to using

goals, and still able to anticipate the

only 100% organic ingredients,

next few steps. A small distillery will

free from genetic engineering and chemical



always have some capacity restrictions to

Jessica, “We have a tremendous respect for the natural world, and we want to communicate that passion and curiosity through the style of the company.”

and it’s important to not overextend too much. I developed our shop to handle three stills, but it’ll take time to build up to that level of production.” When John and Jessica aren’t busy making those award-

That commitment to quality is paying off. Just this year, winning spirits, they find time to get back to their shared Bluewater’s Halcyon Gin won “Best Washington Gin” at the

passion that started it all: sailing. “We have a beast of a metal

2013 GINvitational and placed second in the overall category. sailboat coming into the shop soon,” says John, “It’ll be a bit While awards are nice, John and Jessica remain focused on what of a challenge keeping production moving unhindered while we really matters to them: their customers. When asked what keeps

build out the boat.” While taking on such a huge project might

him motivated, John says, “Mostly, it’s the look on people’s faces bring another distiller pause, the Lundins don’t bat an eye. Just when they try our spirits. With the market being as competitive

like everything else, they’ll find a way.

as it is, being able to reach people via tastings or visits to the distillery is crucial. They can learn about what drives us and the Bluewater Distilling is proudly located in the Craftsman District of the passion we pour into the spirits. My favorite part of having built

Port of Everett (WA). Visit for more info. 15

American Distilling Institute’s 10th Anniversary Conference: an emerging distiller’s perspective


Written by Jason Barrett Photo by Andrew Faulkner/American Distilling Institute

American Distilling Institute President Bill Owens addresses a crowd of approximately 900 at the opening of ADI’s 10th Anniversary Conference, Tuesday April 2, 2013, at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

t’s amazing the difference a year can make. This is my

crowded around six banquet tables, is a throng of people all

second trip to ADI, and as you would expect two days in

laughing and sipping little glasses of whiskey, pouring new

Denver learning about distilling and sampling incredible spirits

samples, and comparing notes. After a few minutes of delicate

was a fantastic experience. Last year in Kentucky I was just maneuvering you are able to work your way to the front when dreaming about starting a distillery and the information was

you realize that each table is covered and almost overflowing

overwhelming. Now, after a year of research, business planning, with dozens of bottles, each filled with a different spirit from all pitching banks and preparing to start my build out in May, I was

over the country. Every table has a theme: Gin, Vodka, Whiskey,

more than ready to tackle the conference.

Rum, Liqueurs, and Oddities. On each of these tables are the

There were numerous highlights this year from the convention. wares of our industry. It’s a tasting frenzy and you’re just trying Of the panels I attended the smoked grain seminar put on by

to make up your mind. Finally you resign yourself to the fact that

Darek Bell of Corsair was of particular interest. The research

you cannot taste them all nor can you intelligently survey this

they shared sparked many interesting ideas about what kind of ever-changing smorgasbord. Kindly sharing a pour with perfect experimenting and production procedures I could implement in

strangers and then discussing the liquid, never fully knowing if

my own distillery. I also greatly enjoyed walking the vendor floor they are this spirit’s creator, competitor, or just a casual observer and getting into deep discussions with my still manufacturer and barrel provider. And let’s not forget about getting the opportunity

like yourself. For many well-researched distillers ADI is much more of a

to taste so many different products in one place. The tasting

social experience. I saw old friends, made some new ones, and

experience helped me think deeper about the taste profile of my

benefited from the opportunity to talk shop in person with such a

own products and the goals I plan to achieve.

wide range of attendees. But as I reflect on what happened that

Imagine walking into the grand ballroom of a hotel and there, week, I ask myself what can we really get across in a one hour


panel discussion? The panels often provide wonderful overviews, on educating the public about our wonderful products. A rising and prove to be very thought provoking. The details of most of

tide raises all boats and if we can educate the American public

our complex business processes could take a full day of lectures

about the options they have for alcohol we will all benefit greatly.

to cover each topic in depth and that’s usually not an option for

ADI was great for me as both a dreamer and as a startup

the constraints of a trade show.

distiller working to begin my company. It would have taken me

As I look back through my notes and photos, I have to ask

a great deal more time and effort to compile all that I learned

myself if I will attend next year. Unfortunately, the answer is

there on my own. I am so thankful to the artists who have come

probably not. I say this because at that point in time my distillery

before me and return year after year to teach and give back to

will have had product on the market for approximately 6 months

the distilling community. I hope that in the near future I will also

and it will be a full court press to reach profitability before our have the opportunity to give back. I strongly believe the value of startup funds run dry. Second, I ask myself what I will gain. I have found my suppliers

ADI lies in its ability to encourage and foster the dreamers and startups struggling to get a foot in the door.

for most of what I need, I have built a network of distillers that

The industry veterans have less to gain but much more to give

spans the continent who I can call in the event that I have a

at this kind of event. It’s great that as an industry, the pioneers of

burning question that I need help working through. Finally, I our movement are so open to sharing this knowledge. I promise will be in the midst of discovering the formula for success for you once we are over the initial hurdles of a new business I my business and my location. And in all honesty, I am not naive

also will return to ADI to share my hard-earned wisdom with the

enough to assume that my two years of planning, SBA loan

dreamers and startups that sit in the seats where I looked up

paperwork, or my business plan have all the answers I need once

starry-eyed not that many years ago.

I launch the business. If there is one thing I would like to see added to next year’s Jason Barrett is a distiller and managing member for Black convention, it would be to includ sessions that focus on distillers Button Distilling in Rochester, NY. For more information visit working together to grow the industry, reduce excise taxes, and work or call (703) 791-9702. 17


n the beginning there was only function. Clay or glass bottles

were sealed with what might have been a piece of wood with some cloth

From Function to Recognizable Design and Purpose wr i tt e n by B r i an C hr i st e ns e n

store shelf. In the end, just like the beginning, the closure and bottle must function well together and quality suppliers must have the processes and equipment to test

and tree pitch. Later the Romans began to use rough pieces of natural bark cork. Whatever the

and to work with an ever-changing set of materials. Unique and

closure choice the function was the same — hold the liquid

innovative bartop stoppers along with well-crafted bottles are the

in the container and keep the stopper and outside air from

basis for creating a package that will attract the customer and

adversely affecting the product.

help them identify it again after they have enjoyed the product

Not long after containers appeared on bazaar shelves the design and aesthetics of the package began to gain importance. Design and product identification would be used to help consumers identify products and influence purchasing decisions. In our industry today each brand wants to identify itself to its customer base and to exhibit the highest quality packaging the retail price can afford. Although plastic threaded closures and aluminum roll on pilfer proof closures have arrived to seal many of the value brands, the bartop stopper is still recognized as the historic link to the first bottles and an indication of premium or handcrafted products. Just as in the wine industry where a cork still has a romantic appeal, so does the bartop stopper in the spirits industry. Starting in the late 20th century modern plastics, coloring and synthetic materials widened the array of possibilities for bartop stoppers and allowed bottlers to differentiate their packaging with innovative and decorative closures. These synthetics have

inside. To get a better look inside the world of bartops we reached out to one of our sponsors and industry supporters, Kevin Dunbar of Tapi USA. Kevin is the sales manager at Tapi USA, and has 20 years of experience in the packaging industry and has worked with bottle and closure manufacturers worldwide. We asked Kevin to share with us a little of Tapi’s story in an effort to learn what makes a large bartop supplier tick.

What made Tapi decide to enter into the craft distilling market? Several years ago, under new government laws there was an opportunity for growth in the number of allowed distilleries. We noticed some of the larger glass manufacturers putting money into courting these emerging distillers. After many years in Europe, we were just entering the US market with our synthetic stoppers, so the timing to jump in made it a perfect fit for us.

allowed the bottler to eliminate much of the dust, taint and

How has your business grown in the recent years?

variability inherent with natural cork. Good quality natural cork

When we first entered the US Market in 2007 with synthetic

will always have a place in the spirits industry but this link to the origins of bottling is less dominant than in the past. As the spirits industry continues to grow and become more competitive, packaging innovation is required to help identify the product and to make it stand out on an ever more crowded

closures everyone was polite but cautious. The larger companies did have some experience with synthetics but not necessarily a good experience. There was a desire to explore synthetics as an alternative to natural cork and ensure their supply chain, but they needed to do a lot of testing and qualifying. So, it took


several years for us to become established in the US like we were

of glass bottle packaging projects we have seen a lot and lend

in Mexico and Europe.

this experience to the package developer.

What is the number one thing a new craft distiller should consider One of Tapi’s quotes is “The stopper is the last impression someone before deciding on a closure? has of your product before they taste it.” How important is it really for an overall product presentation? The number one thing any package developer must consider is their customer. They must imagine them coming down the

Customers want to have a historical connection to a package.

store aisle and looking for something. Consumers have some

Bordeaux drinkers are comfortable seeking quality in a Bordeaux

expectation of what they are looking for and the package must

shaped bottle. Spirits drinkers are looking for a top shelf

meet some threshold of familiarity and quality in their mind. The

experience with a stopper. I have had numerous brand owners

package must be recognizable to the customer for what it is and

tell me that nothing moves a package up the shelf faster than

at the same time there must be something about the package

adding a stopper. We have had customers that changed to a

that makes them say, “Oh this looks interesting….it looks a step

threaded closure and then changed back to a stopper due to

above or, different from, this other package sitting next to it.”

public reaction. There is a place for threaded closures, and we

How do tops affect what bartenders think and feel about a product?

sell plenty, but nothing takes the customer back to the origins of

bottle packaging like a stopper. A quality stopper is a cue to the They are more like an experienced consumer and advisor to their drinker that something special is about to touch their lips. customers. At some point you must get the bartender to pick up your package for that first try. Bartenders realize that many of the products with stoppers are on the top shelf for a reason.

How does Tapi work to best serve the craft distilling industry?

What are your plans for growth in the coming years?

We will keep adding inventory to help move our artisan customers into the market quickly and less expensively. Shelf space is becoming more crowded every year and to differentiate them,

We handle bartops with a choice of natural and synthetic cork

our customers will find us ready with new and creative closures

capped with wood, plastic, acrylic or metal. Entrepreneurial

and decorations.

distillers can get the call for a new product from a distributor and need product delivered in a matter of days. Because their owners

What about the industry excites you the most?

can make packaging decisions autonomously they can design a The people you meet are all so interesting and enthusiastic about their craft. The industry is young and hip and even old guys like package quickly and move to production just as fast.

What kind of additional support do you offer your clients?

me who have been around for a while get a kick out of a new product launch or a fun convention to attend. The bottom line

We try to help our customers with their package as a whole. about this industry is the excitement to be a part of a team that Our connections with the label folks, bottle decorators, glass develops a functional, recognizable design with a purpose. manufacturers and even other closure manufacturers are put to the task of helping the customer produce the highest quality For more info on Tapi’s full product line, visit or call package their money can afford. After participating in thousands (866) 492-7501. 19

Painted Stave Distilling:

A Brand New Day Written by Lanette Faulkinberry

Photograph provided by Painted Stave Distilling


hen it comes to the legal side of being a craft distiller spirits from local ingredients. They were both excited to bring most of the ‘been there, done that’ distillers will be together the creativity from their past experiences; Ron was in

able to tell dark and difficult stories, enough to scare most starry- medical research and Mike worked in education and non-profit eyed, wanna-be distillers back to their day jobs. That’s not the leadership. The goal: to combine their talents and successfully case with Mike and Ron from Painted Stave Distilling (previously produce and market their own spirits. known as Legacy Distilling). Their story is one of history in the making. Ron Gomes and Mike Rasmussen met through a mutual

Starting an artisan distillery, especially one of the first in Delaware, doesn’t come without many challenges. Firstly, regarding the legal aspect, the absence of a law

friend and realized they have three very important desires in in Delaware that allowed the opening of a craft distillery was common. The first desire was to start a craft distillery, second both a hurdle and a blessing. “We were fortunate to be able to to start it in Delaware, and third to focus on creating premium learn from distillers in other states about what we should and


should not have in a supportive law, and also fortunate that we had great support and connections in Delaware to help move the law forward,” noted Mike. The benefit of helping draft the laws in conjunction with Dogfish Head, the well-known Delaware brewery looking to add a distillery, was that they didn’t have to compromise their plans because of any legal restrictions. The law was passed in just over 6 weeks! Secondly, finding the correct location is essential for the success of any new distillery. Painted Stave, after a long search, settled on the small town of Smyrna, Delaware. The town was looking to revitalize their downtown with a local brewery, but after talking to Ron and Mike the town was on board with their plans. They finally decided on an old movie theatre that a local contractor refurbished into an amazing space of over 4200sf for production and 2000sf for tasting and event space. Funding was another challenge. Most big banks met their business plans with skepticism, but after the laws passed, it became a little easier and they got the funding thanks to help from the local SBA and a smaller local bank. With their SBA resources they were able to concentrate more on the business and less on the loan. “It came down to relationships to solve these problems”, according to Mike. They believed in cultivating and educating allies along the way and living up to their passionate message. Painted Stave is currently working on launching a Premium Vodka and Western Style Gin flavored with locally sourced botanicals. They take great pride in the fact that almost everything they need can be locally obtained, and have a strong focus on community development. “Almost everything we need

Grain Neutral Spirits Consistent Quality From Batch-to-Batch

can be found in less than 50 miles.” Plans are also in the works for a white whiskey, aged gin, and flavored vodka. They also plan to begin aging whiskey and brandy for release in coming years.



Ron and Mike have been inspired by other distilleries in their openness and willingness to help, give advice and share their past mistakes. Their advice to new distillers is simple, “Say thank you


a lot.” The relationships they built have opened more doors than they could have imagined. “In turn, we have been sure to use every chance we have found to sing the praises of the people who have helped us get to where we are. This is not something you can do all on your own; appreciate that and give back whenever you can,” says Mike. What keeps them moving forward is the support they have received from friends and family, the high expectations that they have set for themselves and being held accountable to their own high standards.

Painted Stave Distilling in located Smyrna, DE. For more information visit or call (302) 300-0587. 21

Spirit Cooperation the


Bet y str u d In he t ing k a M re a lds i u G rs’ e ll isti D tat e S How

written by Chris Lozier


While craft distilling is exploding in popularity, the percentage of customers choosing to buy craft spirits versus long-established brands is still relatively small. Every bottle of craft spirits sold is a triumph not just for that distillery, but also for the craft community as a whole. Recognizing the need to promote not only their brand, but also their industry, many craft distilleries are working together. Erik Martin, co-founder of Aria Portland Dry Gin, calls it “coopetition,” saying “it is easy to think that we are all competitors, but in reality, we are all in this together and it serves us well to work with one another in cooperation against the large, well financed, international brands.” In this cooperative spirit, many states now have distillers’ guilds that help individual distilleries accomplish more with a collective voice. All of the craft distilleries operating in a particular state will face the same challenges that are unique to that state, many of which come in the form of restrictive or prohibitive state laws. Craft distilling as we define it today, according to Coppersea Distilling CEO Michael Kinstlick’s white paper, “The U.S. Craft Distilling Market: 2011 and Beyond,” began in 1982, and did not experience much growth until the turn of the century. At most, the federal and state laws governing distilled spirits production have had 30 years to evolve and adapt to this young industry. In reality, since the rapid growth really only began around 2000, the legal landscape has had just over 23

a decade to change, which is not enough time to accomplish

in the establishment of 27 new craft distilleries, to date. Ralph

much of anything when both the state and federal government

Erenzo of Tuthilltown Spirits and a small group of wineries and

are involved. As a non-essential industry, these restrictive laws

fruit distilleries approached their legislators with their ideas and

would never see change if it were not for the work of the guilds

showed them the validity of what they wanted to accomplish.

and distillers advocating for that change.

The legislators listened to the group and the new law became a

The laws were not designed to be restrictive, they were just

reality. Erenzo says, at the American Distilling Institute’s panel

designed to govern the macro-distilling approach to distilling “Creating a Distilling Guild,” that after the act was passed into and sales, which does not often fit the craft distilling approach. law, these businesses “realized that as a group you could actually The production and promotion of alcohol is one of the most

get something done.”

regulated industries in the U.S., effectively putting small

As the New York Distillers Guild moved forward, they also

distilleries in a David and Goliath situation. It is very difficult for

lobbied for and received a subsequent amendment to that law

these businesses to lobby for legislative change when they have

that allowed craft distillers to offer tastings and sell their spirits

already incurred the large debt and time commitment of opening

at county and state fairs as well as farmers’ markets. Similarly,

a distillery.

Erik Martin and the Oregon Distillers Guild passed HB 4092

Many distillers found that to get something accomplished, in Oregon that accomplished nearly the same thing. This was you have to approach lawmakers as an industry rather than as

something craft distillers could not legally do before in these

a single business. Tyler Dyck of Okanagan Spirits said that they

states, not because the previous laws sought to prohibit their

approached lawmakers by themselves in 2003, but found that

success, but because the previous laws never saw this coming.

“they don’t talk to individuals, they only talk to organizations.” Large distillers never needed to sell their spirits at farmers’ They started the Artisan Distillers Guild of British Columbia with

markets because they had fully functioning retail avenues

3 members, and have since grown to 12. Their collective efforts

established through liquor stores. However, for a new craft

focused through the guild are effecting legislative change.

distiller it is very difficult to convince that same liquor store to

Likewise, in 2007 New York passed the Farm Distillery Act

take a chance on your product. Now, with these new laws, craft

that has been of great benefit to craft distilling and has resulted

distillers in Oregon and New York have the opportunity to reach

st u j e wer ach y e e, th appro v i t t c g stri istillin does no e r be o t ro‑d , which illing c d a e ist sign rn the m d sales d e t d f a ch. n e ot r a a v n c o o g r e e g app wer ned to illin n fit th t s s i w g la to d ofte desi The 24

’re u o y , self , tax r u g yo ourism n i t ,t n.” sen e o e i r r t u a p t re gricult job cre s u j ga ot n n and i , t e e n r ’ u e u n es “Yo reve repr more customers in wider markets.

British Columbia were able to change the tax laws regarding craft

Craft distilling is a rapidly growing industry and it did not spirits sales in B.C. Originally, the tax markup on craft spirits in become so by accident. The movement was started by motivated B.C. was 170%, but now, if you use 100% B.C. ingredients, you entrepreneurs that knew if they wanted to succeed they had to

will have 0% tax markup. This results in more spirits sold by

actively promote their businesses. They saw value in creating

the distillers, more customers buying craft products, and more

craft spirits that championed small business, local agriculture, locally produced and purchased agricultural products. And, as and unique, high quality products. Through the distillers’ a result of more spirits being sold, production will increase and footwork and promotion, many consumers learned to think the

more jobs will be created to keep up with that production. This

same way and the craft movement became increasingly popular. is a winning proposition not only for distilleries, but also for local The industry is growing not just because of a lack of varieties of agriculture, tourism, job creation and revenue, benefitting the spirits, but because craft distilleries do things differently, locally and uniquely.

Province many times more than the original tax would have. If your state does not already have a guild and you would

Ralph Erenzo says it is essential for your guild to promote

like to start one, begin by looking at how other distillers’ guilds

yourselves in this way. Many states have programs that will

are organized. Most guilds are 501 (c) 6 non-profit trade

provide funding for growing industries like craft distilling, and

organizations, which allows them to advocate for political action

he says “they will invest in it if you can come to them with a

at the federal and state level. They can also accept donations

good argument of why they should and what it’s going to return

and raise money for the guild that can be used to promote craft

to them.” He goes on to say that as a guild, “you’re not just distilling. Former Oregon Distillers Guild President Erik Martin representing yourself, you’re representing agriculture, tourism, suggests seeking legal advice to organize the guild properly if tax revenue, and job creation,” all of which are beneficial to your you are not sure how to do it yourself. state. By educating your state lawmakers and agencies about the

In order for the guild to be successful and beneficial to its

positive impacts craft distilling has on your state, you are able to

members and the industry, it has to be active at several levels.

gain their support when it comes to passing beneficial legislation

One thing it needs to do is actively promote craft distilling to

and acquiring funding to promote the industry. A guild can help

the public. In Oregon, Ryan Csanky, co-founder of Aria Portland

them to see that by passing beneficial legislation they are not Dry Gin, created The Oregon Artisan Spirit Tasting, or TOAST, just benefitting you and your distillery, they are creating new

event to generate public interest in craft spirits. It grew into the

opportunities statewide in many different fields.

largest event of its kind in the nation, promoting craft spirits

For instance, Tyler Dyck and the Artisan Distillers Guild of and generating revenue for the guild. The Washington Distillers 25

Guild is hosting their first public tasting event, PROOF, this year projects. He says this is not only helpful to the four directors, but in hopes of accomplishing the same thing. Colorado Distillers

to the guild members, as well, because the more direction and

Guild President Rob Masters said their event, Dstill, drew a

support a distiller gives the guild the more their voice is heard. In

crowd of more than 1500 this year, going on to say that “regional

addition, the more distilleries that participate, the more widely

development of such events will create a spider web across the

and evenly the workload can be delegated amongst them, making

country of outreach to the consumer to help educate on the

everyone’s job easier. Each distiller that participates in their guild brings a unique

merits of craft distilling.” A distillers’ guild also needs to represent craft distilling to

set of talents and abilities that are very valuable to the guild’s

entities like the state department of agriculture, because they

success. Almost every bit of new legislation that is beneficial to

often have funding and channels of promotion available to viable

craft distilling came about because the right people had the right

state industries that support agriculture, tourism, etc. Promotion

talents to successfully approach and convince their legislators to

and legislation often go hand in hand, and when you promote

hear them out and take action. Currently, the New York Distillers Guild is working alongside

craft distilling by championing its benefits, the government and public alike will respond positively and support legislation that

the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS) and other

favors the industry.

state guilds to lobby for a reduction of the federal excise tax

The large task of running a guild requires an active group of from $13.50 per proof gallon to $2.70 per proof gallon for the leaders and members. It is good to form a leadership board that first 65,000 proof gallons produced by the distillery. To help guides the guild’s direction, but it is too large of an undertaking

the bill’s passage, DISCUS is encouraging individual distillers to

for just a few leaders. Erik Martin says the Oregon Distillers

write their state representatives. The directors of DISCUS know

Guild has “an ‘Active Board’ – in that the Board of Directors are

that the best way to gain the legislators’ attention is to introduce

the ones who carry out the day to day operations of the Guild.” them to the entrepreneurial distillers that built the industry into Their board is comprised of a president, vice president, treasurer what it is today. The combined voices of these active, talented and secretary. These four are not alone, however, as they are

individuals will demonstrate that craft distilling is a beneficial

supported by board members on committees to address special

industry worthy of legislative consideration and promotion.


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Taking a Long Shot an







Photos by By Firefly Imageworks

t takes real guts to walk away from a successful career in


kept coming back to the job that I had when I was 15 years old

the hopes of starting your own craft distillery. With all the

and working in a winery. That was fun work, productive, and you

obstacles and seemingly insurmountable hurdles in your path,

could hold in your hands the work of the season. I valued both

you’d have to be a little bit crazy to turn in your comfy 9-5

the work ethic and the connection to the land. But I decided

plus benefits. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what Scott and Becky

to take that idea and apply it to my love of spirits. I wanted to

Harris did when they started Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

make whiskey! So I set to writing a business plan, miraculously

in Purcellville, VA in 2009. We reached out to Scott to see how

convinced my chemical engineer wife, Becky, to be president

things were going 5 years after beginning their journey.

and chief distiller of the company, got some financing, and we

ASM: Scott, can you give us a little background on yourself before your distilling days?

were off!

SH: I graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree (and then

ASM: What kind of challenges did you face as you got going, and how did you overcome those obstacles?

a graduate degree) in Computer Science, and spent 20 years

SH: We started our company in 2009, in the pit of the big

in telecommunications and government systems (this is why I

recession. Honestly, it is a miracle that we got financing, but we

drink). Life in the early days of my career was good, but honestly,

did in fact secure a SBA loan for the start-up of our company.

I just burned out and thought to myself that I was spending way

Considering I had no experience, this was truly a miracle. With

way too much time doing PowerPoint for a living, and there had

money in hand, we went through the substantial process of

to be a better way to spend my next 40 years than behind a desk

federal and state licensing, and the non-trivial zoning process.

in some lifeless fluorescent-lit office.

By January 2010, we were distilling the first legal drops of

ASM: What got you moving in the direction of becoming a craft distiller?

alcohol in Loudoun County since Prohibition.

SH: I finally asked myself, “Well, then, what DO you want to do

ASM: What keeps you motivated day to day?

with your life?” (Mid life crisis raging, as you can see), and I

SH: Seeing a customer with a drink or a bottle of my stuff, 27

whether it’s in a restaurant or an off-premise store, is what keeps cocktails like a Manhattan or a Horse’s Neck, or enjoyed neat. We me going. When they tell me (or I overhear them saying) that they also offer a Cask Proof version at 116 proof, which is heavenly love our stuff, that is gold to me. That is a job well done.

and dark as maple syrup!

ASM: What about the craft distilling industry excites you the most? Watershed Gin is our rye-based gin, a modern style gin which is SH: There is still so much room for growth and the customers show real passion and enthusiasm about our products. I love explaining what we’re doing and having those long conversations with people, many of whom are just starting to get into whiskey or gin.

built upon that sweet rye base, with a strong juniper nose, and the flavors of mulling spice (anise, coriander, cinnamon), and a crisp anise finish. Delicious in negronis, G&T’s, and martinis. We also do brandy from pear, peaches, grapes, and apples. These are limited release seasonal brandies usually only available at the distillery or nearby liquor stores.

ASM: What can you tell us about your line of spirits? What makes ASM: Where do you get the ingredients for your products, and what them special? makes them the right choice for you? SH: Mosby’s Spirit is our white whiskey. It is organic and kosher certified, and made from 100% organic rye. It is what our forefathers in Virginia were drinking, all the way back to George Washington. It is a lovely white rye whiskey, and a nice replacement for vodka in most recipes.

SH: All of our fruit is local, hyper-local, as we have a rich set of farms in the areas producing lovely fruit (mostly grapes). We get most of our rye from the mid-west, which is because it is organic. We are trying to get an organic supplier of rye on the east coast, but have not yet found one.

Roundstone Rye is our biggest seller. Aged less than two years

in new Minnesota white oak barrels, it has a beautiful light ASM: What resources, groups, or individuals have you found to be amber hue and a delicious, almost fruity taste, with spice and

the most helpful during your distilling career?

a distinctive white-pepper finish. It is delicious mixed into SH: Having a chemical engineer for a wife, and one who is willing

“I cannot tell you how many people I meet who like the romanticism of the job, but don’t realize how much time they will spend shoveling, scraping, cleaning, buffing, and sweating over steaming hot tanks and stills.”


to work 12 hours a day, six days a week, cannot be overstated. you how many people I meet who like the romanticism of the She is an angel among men.

job, but don’t realize how much time they will spend shoveling,

Apart from her, we are grateful to the many individuals who are scraping, cleaning, buffing, and sweating over steaming hot tanks willing to put their money where their mouth is and “shop local!” and stills. It is back-breaking work, but if you truly love it, the They keep us going!

rewards are great! I don’t mean financially, but in the satisfaction

ASM: What aspect of your business sets you apart from the pack?

I love most, the joy of seeing a customer sip my whiskey.

of producing a fine whiskey that is enjoyed by many! That is what

SH: We are one of a very few organic whiskeys in the nation, and I think that is pretty special.

ASM: How important is it for you to reach out to your consumers and build a dialog with them?

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company is located Purcellville, VA. For more info visit or call (540) 751-8404.

SH: Absolutely critical. We are constantly trying to build demand from the ground up, a “grassroots” distillery, as it were. Every event, we try to get to meet, chat, and become friends with people who enjoy our spirits. We do a number of events every week with just this goal in mind.

ASM: How has your community reacted to your business? SH: We have been warmly embraced, I am glad to say! We have lots of loyal fans in Loudoun County and reaching into DC and Maryland. Without our fans/customers, our business would be nothing, so I cannot say enough how wonderful they are and how important they are to our business!

ASM: Tell us about some of your goals for the future. SH: Our next plan is to finish the construction of our new facility and move our operations over to the new building on Main Street in Purcellville. This will allow us to simultaneously expand our production by a factor of four, but also to have a larger tasting room for tours and tastings. From there, we would like to “fill in the gaps” on the east coast with states where our products are not currently sold.

ASM: What advice can you provide for other new craft distilleries entering the industry? SH: Be ready to work HARD. Being a distiller is a very difficult, blue collar job. I cannot tell 29

“ the W r i tt e n by Kat i e P yl e 



P hoto g raphy by D V L P u bl i c R e lat i ons & A dv e rt i s i n g

Editor’s Note: In an industry characterized by small batch distilling it can be easy to fall into the habit of seeing the world as “big vs. small” and “us vs. them.” So it will come as no surprise that when O-I asked us about doing a spotlight article on the glass packaging they provide Jack Daniel’s, we were hesitant. How can you possibly get any further from small batch craft distilling than to talk about a brand like Jack Daniel’s? But then it hit us, JD wasn’t always big. Very few companies start out massive, they have to grow. So we agreed to find out what Jack Daniel’s had to say, and see what we could learn along the way.


ith nearly a century and a half under the distillery’s belt, selected by Jack himself. At the time, a bottle this shape was Jack Daniel’s knows a thing or two about maintaining practically unheard of. Today, Arnett still considers the bottle an

a successful business in a constantly changing market: the important player in the brand’s recognition: “We could take the company has survived multiple wars and a prohibition, only to label off the bottle, and people would still look at it and know emerge as a global brand with the number one selling whiskey that is a Jack Daniel’s bottle –– so it is definitely part of our in the world today. The distillery’s secret? A simple philosophy identity.” Jack Daniel’s also chooses glass bottles for a practical that many craft distillers can appreciate; in the founder’s own purpose. While other materials may leach chemicals and impart words, “Every day we make it, we make it the best we can.” their taste onto the whiskey, the nonporous, non-reactive glass

Be true to the essence of your brand Jeff Arnett is the seventh in an esteemed line of Jack Daniel’s master distillers starting with Jack himself. It’s Arnett’s job to

bottle doesn’t add or subtract flavor, so the whiskey tastes the way it’s supposed to: all barrel, no bottle.

Never stop improving

make sure each bottle of whiskey is up to Jack Daniel’s standards. To Arnett, living up to the legacy of the brand means never The whiskey’s authenticity is key: “Jack Daniel’s whiskey is all ceasing to improve it. There are certain things that will never natural. Everything inside that bottle has come from water, change about the Jack Daniel’s process: the natural ingredients, grains, barrel, and charcoal mellowing.” The whiskey is distilled the local spring water, the maturation process in toasted and using mineral-rich, iron-free

charred hand-smoked white

water from a cave spring on


the distillery property, and

admits, “If we can make

matures in white oak barrels


built, toasted and charred by

we’ll do that. One of the most

Jack Daniel’s for the optimal

evolving parts of the whiskey

flavor and color.

is the bottle itself. People




Arnett quality,

think we don’t change the

Be true to your whiskey and its drinkers





subtly changed the Black Label bottle about every 10

According to Arnett, Jack

years,” says Arnett. “It’s

Daniel’s has to “win fans

an old brand, but we don’t

and friends one person at a

want it to look dated.” Jack

time.” When artisanal distillers go to him for advice, he tells Daniel’s works with the glass company O-I to make the proper them, “Be as open and honest as you can as you approach your nips, tucks and embellishments to keep the bottle current while whiskey and you’ll win more and more support over the years.” It maintaining the heritage of the bottles that came before it. “If means using natural materials and the proper methods to create there are technologies available today that Mr. Jack didn’t get a the real liquor experience. It means offering tours to give your chance to enjoy, we’ll still look at and apply them as long as we can do so and still maintain the character and integrity of our customers a glimpse into the whiskey and how it’s made. whiskey. I think he would approve.”

Choose a bottle as distinguished as what’s inside The packaging does more than protect its valuable contents. Jack Daniel’s uses its iconic glass bottles to distinguish itself. From the Gentleman Jack flask to the decanter-style Single Barrel

One thing that hasn’t changed: no matter the shape, glass is the right choice for delivering the taste of Lynchburg, Tennessee around the world. “What we’ve learned over 147 years,” says Arnett, “is there’s no better container for preserving the quality and integrity of a whiskey.”

bottle, each whiskey brand has individually stylized packaging

Jeff Arnett is proud to be one of the new voices of O-I’s Glass Is Life™ campaign. Join the global movement by visiting; known for its square-shouldered Black Label Old No. 7 bottle, follow the conversations on Facebook and #glassislife on Twitter. that fits into the Jack Daniel’s brand family. Jack Daniel’s is best 31

Let’s Get Started A

rtisan Distillers do not choose their craft for the purpose

point‑to‑point (feet/inches by direction) description of the area

of making the government happy that the excise taxes are

covered by the distillery bond. TTB requires a diagram of the

paid and the product labels are in compliance with the rules. premises; nothing too fancy, just a simple drawing of the plant However, those chores are important in the scope of duties that layout, with dimensions, doors and windows. Use colored lines a distiller acquires when engaging in business as a regulated

to outline the bonded and “other” premises. The diagram has

beverage spirits producer. Before the first still run, there are a

to have the name and address of the applicant, and compass

number of steps to take involving compliance with the extensive

direction indicated (an arrow with “N” depicting North will

and challenging Federal rules governing distillers. Let’s first look

suffice). This “Bonded Premises” must be secured to ensure no

at who and what we are dealing with.

one has unauthorized access to spirits held under the Federal

The agency charged with handling the permit and tax rules for bond – see Get Bonded below. Under the Federal rules, if the distillers is the Treasury Department’s Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & DSP has a retail or tasting room, that area cannot be on the Trade Bureau, commonly known as TTB. Formerly a component bonded premises, but may be next to it. Each still, tank and of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, the TTB was

other major piece of equipment for containing or handling spirits

established in 2003 to continue the mission of enforcing the

is to be listed: serial number, capacity and use.

permit, product and marketing rules of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act) as well as the registration, bonding, operational and excise taxation rules in Chapter 51 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). A distiller is regulated by both of these laws, which are implemented through Federal regulations found in Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Beginning distillers should first look at rules in Parts 1, 5, 19, 29, 30 and 31. The first item on the compliance agenda of the new distiller is to create and submit the Federal application for an FAA Act Permit and to register the Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP). Let’s look at the five most common issues that confront and can delay the distiller when putting together their permit application and registration:

Establish premises. Whether owned or leased, the distillery has to be secured, and meet state and local requirements for the type of operations planned. Our focus is on the Federal rules, which call for the plant to be secure and located in commercial premises; the law does not allow for any distillery to be located in a residence, nor in a building containing a residence. Documentation of the premises includes a copy of the lease or evidence of deed to the property. The legal description is required, along with a

Get Bonded. TTB Form 5110.56 Distilled Spirits Bond must be executed perfectly, and the operations coverage must be sufficient for the tax value of all spirits on hand at the distillery at any one time, plus bulk spirits in transit to the DSP from another DSP. The minimum Bond for a distiller who will be making, storing and bottling products is $15,000, plus additional withdrawal coverage for deferral of taxes on the products withdrawn from the DSP for sale or use as tasting samples. This amount covers about 1,100 proof gallons, or about 1,375 gallons at 80 proof/40% alcohol. Preparation and submission of that “perfect” bond to TTB is a topic worthy of its own article!

Document your Source of Funds. This can vary — if the money invested comes from personal funds, such as a loan against a retirement account, a commercial loan, or withdrawals of savings the source would be documented (i.e. statement from investment account showing withdrawals, matched to deposits in the DSP business account) and images of that documentation submitted with the DSP application. The government does this to ensure that the ownership and interest in the business is clear and correctly presented.


Skip the

5 most common speedbumps on the road to legal compliance written by Jim McCoy

Submit Organizational Documents. This would be a copy of the company articles of incorporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC) organization, corporate bylaws or LLC operating agreement, and unless the authority to act for the company is spelled out specifically in the documentation, a resolution of the board or members granting signature authority (by title) may be needed. A listing of the company officers, directors and persons owning 10% or more interest in the company is required, and if a corporation, the number

approvable submission that involves minimal follow-up. If your application has numerous shortcomings, it will get set aside to await your efforts to make corrections and enhancements to complete that reviewer’s checklist. To get on the fast track and stay there, be accurate, be complete and respond quickly to TTB questions. Oh, and be sure to complete your application using TTB’s Permits Online – once you get used to how it functions it will save time as future changes require the permit file to be updated.

of shares authorized and outstanding and the number held by

Jim McCoy is Managing Consultant for J. McCoy Alcohol & Tobacco Compliance Consultants LLC in Cincinnati, OH. Jim served over and persons having 10% or more interest is required. If an LLC 32 years with ATF and TTB, establishing his consulting firm in member or a major stockholder is another business entity, the 2010 to assist alcohol and tobacco businesses in their efforts to meet articles for that entity are required to document its existence. Federal regulatory and tax requirements. For more information visit or email each of these persons is required. For an LLC, a list of members

TTB can ask for more information regarding ownership entities if they choose to.

Document Personnel Background. For each of the persons noted above, complete a TTB Form 5000.9 Personnel Questionnaire. The form should be complete and accurate, including the references, residences and employment history. If a person involved was previously employed in an alcohol business that fact would need to be reported on that form. DSP applicants do not get the luxury of submitting a “short form” background – be sure these are complete. If an owning LLC member holding 10% or more interest is another LLC, the members of that firm must also submit personnel backgrounds. It is best, if unclear what to do, to contact TTB directly with your questions. The customer service group in the TTB National Revenue Center in Cincinnati will be pleased to assist; their contact information is on the TTB website at Success in addressing these five areas will provide the distiller applicant with a strong foundation for getting their approval as quickly as possible. There are a myriad of details underlying each requirement, and no guarantees of speedy processing. However, it is my experience that the complete and clear application gets prompt attention because it offers the government reviewer an 33


Are You Ready by Lisa



raft distilling is one of those industries that can be overromanticized and as a result is attracting a lot of new

players. And truly, craft distilling is romantic. However, the reality remains that there are a lot of unknowns and risks which are often not fully evaluated prior to embarking on a spirit journey, mainly because new entrants just don’t know what they don’t know! Let’s establish some common ground: „„ We share the same central focus; a passion and dedication for the art and science of craft distillation.

„„ Each of us comes from our own walk of life with different I say this as a former Commercial Lender, International Marketer, Culinary Chef, Strategic Management Consultant, and areas of expertise, knowledge, and wisdom. „„ No one sets out to fail.

Co-Founder of The Liberty Distillery in Vancouver, BC. I never

could have imagined years would pass, and still, our doors are

This may suggest success for all who endeavor, but that is not not open. This statement is not meant to dissuade. Rather it is

always the case. Let’s be frank and ask ourselves: “Why do I intended to challenge you to dig deeper, research further, and want to distill? Am I set up to succeed? Have I REALLY done my then PLAN, PLAN, AND PLAN AGAIN. due diligence before starting this journey, or am I just jumping on the band wagon?”

So, you have your business plan in hand, zoning permits

complete, manufacturing application submitted and approval in

We all start out confident, willed by our imagination and principle received. You’ve invested hundreds of hours in research creativity. Yet, no matter what your background, skill, or and your due diligence is complete. The stills, tanks, hoses and expertise, you will make mistakes. Future distillers BEWARE - this endeavor is not for: the faint of heart, people who want to take short cuts, individuals that lack

bottling equipment are ordered, and smiling confidently, you sit back to raise your feet up thinking ‘good as gold – what possibly could go wrong?’

patience, anyone not prepared to take risk or assume debt… or Let’s talk about some of those unforeseen “hidden” planning those unwilling to give up a Sunday golf game!

issues that may not have been anticipated.

34 34



&Z Permits

To effectively do this, map out in detail the distillery floor plan with specific equipment to be used including pumps and all

other electrical items. It is not enough to have a generic floor As most know, each Municipality, Region, Province or State is plan showing placement of stills, tanks and pumps. What’s different. The Vancouver Building By-law defines craft distilling required is detail, detail, detail. Know the specifics of your as a “High-hazard industrial occupancy (Group F, Division 1) equipment and what it does. Are they explosion proof and meet meaning an industrial occupancy containing sufficient amounts local code requirements? What is the volume of waste/fluid of high combustible and flammable or explosive materials expected to be dumped down the municipal sewer? What will which, because of their inherent characteristics, constitutes a the discharge temperature be? What chemicals will be used for special fire hazard.” cleaning and in what volume? Building a distillery is akin to, and nothing short of, building a nuclear power plant. Craft distilling is relatively new in the eyes of the approving authorities so fire safety in existing buildings and within the community at large is often taken extremely seriously. Researching requirements specific to your jurisdiction is paramount because one region may differ from its neighbor



and the Fire & Safety Department may have requirements different from what is indicated for your building permit. In Every question and response has a potential implication on what addition, there will likely be environmental concerns with the additional requirements might be imposed. In short, don’t make local, provincial/state, or federal authorities.

assumptions that any one person will have all the answers. Most

The importance of both communication and accountability throughout






people are not trying to mislead you; sometimes they just don’t know.

overemphasized enough. Typically the information you need Questions to ponder – potential concerns to anticipate: to know is not conveniently located in one place. The truth is „„ Location, location, location… Do you design your distillery hired consultants and trades (mechanical, electrical engineers, lay-out and find the right building, or secure the perfect architects, plumbers, electricians) do not know all the ins and location and build your distillery around it? outs of each others’ area of expertise. Nor do they know every „„ What are the limitations of the distillery space? detail of every city by-law or zoning requirement especially as it pertains to the process of craft distillation. Believe it or not, building a distillery is a bit like surgery.

„„ When was it built, and does it meet current standards/ by-laws?

There’s a diagnosis (approval to proceed), documents are

„„ What environmental concerns must be complied with?

executed to operate (engineers/trades are hired), surgery

„„ Is there a requirement for a trade waste interceptor?

begins (construction), and then people react based on what is found. The fact is you don’t know what the course of treatment

„„ How will waste be disposed of?

(construction) will be until you are well into the thick of things

„„ What are the Fire Safety Code requirements?

and all the while the meter is running.

„„ Is the building attached to another?

One way to avoid wasting valuable time and resources is to

„„ Does the building require 2-hour fire rating?

coordinate a meeting with your architect, general contractor (if

„„ Are sprinklers present?

you’re not doing this entirely yourself) and every city office you

„„ Do the fire pulls meet code?

will eventually receive approvals from well in advance of actual construction.

„„ What are the ventilation and sensor requirements? „„ Does the Fire Department require automated shut down 35 35

with direct routing to the local fire department in the For that to be a reality your spirits have to be in a bottle... event of equipment failure or alcohol vapor leakage?

with a label you are proud of that has been approved by the

„„ Do pumps, overhead lights, exit signs, and other electrical appropriate authority... with a closure of your choosing that is complimentary to the bottle and brand. And yes, one more equipment have to be explosion proof? „„ What is the source for generating steam – electrical or gas? „„ Does

thing, don’t forget to throw a memorable ‘official opening party,’ with communication between friends, family, the community, and the media.







support daily operations for an electric boiler without For many people, the budget has now been blown. That means the distillery website, blog, media package, and setcompromising still operation?

„„ Is there sufficient floor space to accommodate a gasfueled boiler and a service room?

up a Facebook and Twitter account will have to be done by...?

Believe it or not, social media just became your new best friend. And if by chance you were not an ‘early adopter,’ then

On a final note, keep tabs on local and federal legislation now is the time to learn what an important role social media changes. They can have a huge impact on your new or can have. established







Government of British Columbia recently amended its Liquor Legislation and definition of Craft Distilling. The revised legislation offers significant benefit to those distilleries who use 100% BC product, ferment, and distill on site. Being


inal W arting F


aware of pending legislation change may directly impact the business plan and subsequently the distillery floor plan. It now If along the way you become disheartened and feel like might have to accommodate a mash tun, auger, fermenters, throwing in the towel – DON’T! Take stock. You are part of a community of tenacious, like-minded individuals filled with

and possibly a separate room to mill your grain!

knowledge, passion, and camaraderie. This is a budding industry. Remember to help others on their

Don’t For


So, completion of construction is rapidly approaching. The

journey and ask for support on yours. After all, that’s what makes us unique. It’s what makes and defines us as Craft Distillers.

Lisa Simpson is founder of The Liberty Distillery in Vancouver,

excitement is mounting and everyone is asking “When’s the BC. For more information visit or call (604) 558-1998. opening? Can I be the official taster?”

For more than 30 years Phoenix has designed and introduced new packaging concepts to the beverage industry. We work with factories around the world using a variety of materials to produce distinctive packaging.

847 McCaffrey, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4T 1N3 Toll Free: 1-800-661-6481  Telephone: (514) 487-6660 Attila M. Joo  Manager of Sales and Business Development Mobile: 514-234-1503  Email:

36 36

First Impressions w i t h

L a b e l O n e

written by Rockwell Rutter

Photos provided by LabelOne


o matter what, you only get one first impression. In printer from Beaverton, OR. How LabelOne came about is an those first few fleeting moments of meeting someone, inspiring story in and of itself - it began as an offshoot of a

you’ve got a tiny window to show them what you’re all about, large label maker called Dana Labels in Hawaii. Enter Wilfredo lest they formulate an opinion of their own making. The same Rabanal, a Filipino immigrant whose first job was working for can be said of a bottle of spirits.

Dana as a press operator in

When a consumer goes to their local

1978. He quickly became one of

liquor store or watering hole with the

Dana’s top printers and when the

hopes of trying something new and

company decided to expand to

exciting, they’re presented with an

the mainland (specifically Gaston,

overwhelming wall of options, each

OR), Wilfredo was selected as the

vying for their attention. To stand

man for the job. Success has its

out, you’re going to need a label that

ebbs and flows, however, and

conveys your brand’s personality, the

after a year of slow growth it was

true essence of what your distillery is

decided to close the Gaston plant.

all about. Your label is your brand’s handshake, the small smile, even the prolonged locking of eyes across a crowded room.

But Wilfredo wouldn’t hear of it. He struck a deal with Dana’s owners where he’d be given 50% ownership of the Gaston plant in exchange for moving his family

With so much importance being placed on such a seemingly from Hawaii to run the plant full-time. In November of 1984 simple item, we turned to LabelOne Connect, a premier label Wilfredo moved with his wife, Ardina, and one-year-old daughter 37

to Oregon to save a struggling company.

in all facets of the printing industry. There are even a few

His gamble would soon pay off.

employees that have experience in the wine and spirits trade,






which allows Wilfredo to continue to grow that part of their

the business through massive growth

customer base. For example, LabelOne will work with its

(including a 2001 name change to the

customers with getting their labels approved by

current LabelOne), with customers across

the TTB. As many of our readers know, this is an

a wide variety of industries (not the

arduous process, beset on all sides by delays

least of which is beer, wine and spirits).

and complications. Since this is something

They’ve gone from a single space in an

that Wilfredo and his team deal with on

industrial complex to an enormous

a daily basis, they are happy to share

14,000 sq. ft. warehouse in order

their knowledge and experience to make

to keep up with demand. In addition to

the approval process go as smoothly as

just printing labels, they’ve also launched

possible. It’s still the distillers’ responsibility

their own line of labeling systems.

to manage their own label approval, but

According to Wilfredo, “What sets us

LabelOne is often able to catch mistakes and

apart is our desire to make a high-quality

errors before they’re sent to the Feds, resulting in a

product that stands up to the rigors of packaging.

major time savings.

We don’t want to be a service company and it is

Helping out the craft distilling industry is

for this reason that we build our machines out of

always on Wilfredo’s mind. At LabelOne,

high-grade materials and parts.” LabelOne even

they’re constantly looking at new

goes so far as to provide each customer

labeling materials and technology

with specialized how-to videos they can

in order to find better and more

access online.

efficient ways of doing business,

Besides the commitment to

and he sees a parallel in distilling.

high quality labels and equipment,

Wilfredo had this to say: “They [craft

Wilfredo credits the people on his staff

distillers] are revamping the old ways of

as being the secret to his success. Most of

distilling. Craft distillers are taking old

his employees

methodology and incorporating modern chemistry to

at LabelOne have innovate.” It’s an observation like this that reminds us that if we been



company for over

keep our hearts with the past and our minds on the future, we’ll continue to build a vibrant and successful industry.

15 years, and many

LabelOne is located in Beaverton, OR. For more information visit of individual experience or call (800) 255-1492. of them bringing years


the laws that govern farm wineries and craft breweries, and their experience afforded us clear examples of what was possible. After reviewing the

Be t h e Change.

craft distillery laws from a number of neighboring

L e ssons l e arn e d on th e road to l e g al i z at i on i n D e lawar e

the same opportunities to a new business. Taking

states and brushing up on the current state laws with the help of a government relations person, we began a conversation with our ABC Commissioner to discuss our needs and assess the state’s openness to updating our laws. An important piece of advice we received early on was to never ask legislators to pass a bill that included anything the craft wine and beer businesses did not already have. Legislators would be more comfortable supporting a bill that gave this approach greatly simplified the drafting of our bill, as we essentially had templates to pull from.







We put together a rough draft of the bill and had another conversation with our ABC commissioner so we could lay out our specific needs and get


some feedback before we started to engage rguably, there is no harder way to start a business than to first legislators. All of this was important because the last thing that be required to create the law that will govern your operation. we wanted to do was surprise the state with a bill that they knew

To launch Painted Stave Distilling in Delaware, that is exactly

nothing about.

what we had to do. Opening in Delaware was an easy choice for us. The state has a rich history of brewing and distilling dating back to the earliest settlers in our nation, and is abundant with

With a solid rough draft of our bill in hand,

high quality locally grown raw materials well suited for crafting

we learned that another small business

spirits. Delaware also maintains a growing interest in locally crafted, handmade products, including a strong craft beer industry and a growing farm winery industry.

Build support

was interested in similar legislation. We were fortunate that this highly regarded and successful business was the same

Moreover, since the state is geographically small gaining

trailblazer that helped create the craft brewing laws in our state.

access to the “movers and shakers” of Delaware (i.e., the

It was a no-brainer to merge our needs into one bill and work

Governor, Alohol Beverage Commission (ABC) Commissioner, together to get it passed. Subsequent meetings with our ABC Legislature, business leaders) is reasonable. Opportunities to Commissioner were critical for getting the language of the bill chat with elected and appointed public officials at formal and

right, as well as its placement/fit in the code.

informal events are abundant. On top of that, we believed that the

Once drafted, it was time to find sponsors who would champion

benefits of being the first stand-alone craft distillery in the state

the legislation. We started with local legislators, those that

would be huge relative to the challenges of making that happen. represent districts in which our distillery is located. Certainly, our efforts could not move forward without them. These folks have the greatest interest in seeing us succeed and they became

Be informed

Without question our ability to succeed

the primary sponsors of our bill. They also facilitated subsequent

was greatly facilitated by two artisan

meetings with other legislators.

businesses that came before us. Nassau

The next step was to seek additional sponsors from leadership

Valley Vineyards, and Dogfish Head Craft in both houses. This meant setting up short (three to five minute) Brewed Ales were largely responsible for meetings with as many legislators as possible. The goal was to 39

make the case for why this bill was important for their district

Howsweetest Sweet it is . . . Crafting the

barrels in the industry

1605 Commerce Ave S Park Rapids, MN 56470



and our state in the fastest and most direct way possible. That meant creating a message, staying on it, and not being afraid to ask if you have their support. Keep a tally! In our case, we talked about how craft distilleries are creating jobs and supporting local communities all over the country, and legislators were excited to support the growth of a new business.

Working a bill is a great civics lesson.

Be there

Remember the “How a Bill Becomes a Law” song from Schoolhouse Rock? That is pretty much how it worked in Delaware, and it was our job to shepherd it through

the process. We learned it was critical to be in the room/chamber and available for questions should they arise, but to not open a can of worms by opening our mouths if we do not have to. If you have done your homework and built support before the bill was introduced you will not be surprised by the outcome even if some of the questions or comments are a bit out of left field.

vanilla bean

We followed our bill the whole way, from attending the Senate committee meeting when it was introduced so we could put a face to the bill and answer questions, to sitting in the Senate

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chamber when it was introduced and voted on, and over to the House for the same treatment. In the end, our legislation was passed by the House and Senate with overwhelming support, and was signed by the Governor a few weeks later. Being required to pass legislation to start a business is neither an easy task nor a path recommended. However, if starting or growing your business depends on it, know you are signing up for an interesting ride and be prepared to devote a great deal of time and resources to the effort. We knew that in advance, but by being informed, building support, and being there to work the bill we were able to craft and pass a very supportive piece of legislation in a few short months. We were fortunate to have some very good advice early in our efforts, and Lady Luck working for us along the way. However, more than anything, we were able to make a strong case for our business, and were able to convince others that our needs were also in their interest. After all, public servants are people too, and many of them enjoy a good drink

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Ron Gomes and Mike Rasmussen are owners of Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna, DE. For more information visit or call (302) 300-0587.


s m a l l c o m p a n y.

Big Vision. L o g g e r h e a d w r i t t e n


b y

R o ck w e l l

D e c o

R u t t e r

hen you’re in a gold rush, don’t dig for

bottle out there. Even with all their success,

gold. Sell shovels. With craft distilling

Loggerhead remains small enough to really focus

on the rise around the world, a market niche was

their attention on their customers. Staying small

created that demanded a new host of supporting

has its advantages, as well. Steve Gilbertson, CEO

services. One of these is the need for high-quality

says, “We have a decorating team that is focused

and affordable glass packaging, a need that

on one industry – craft spirits. They only know one

Loggerhead Deco has successfully filled for years.

quality level. We only have people on the team

In 2010 a few talented people with industrial printing experience came together and founded Loggerhead, one of the industry’s leading producers of glass bottles. Loggerhead has two focused goals:

who have an attention to detail.” The process typically starts out with several conversations





distiller. Rather than jumping right into the design, the

1) bring high-end decorating solutions to the small batch Loggerhead team strives to create a real relationship with the brands (micro-distilleries, regional wineries, craft spirits, and customer. “This business is personal, and we need to keep it specialty glass market); 2) eco-friendly glass bottle decorating personal,” says Gilbertson. By discovering the personal reasons solutions. With the ecological trend

why the distiller started their company

overtaking the industry, this “label-

and determining what kind of vision for

less” production has put them at a great advantage, and rather than competing for large international brands, their focus is on the craft distiller and their unique needs. By bringing big-brand bottle and

“We only have people on the team who have an attention to detail.”

the future they have, Loggerhead can eventually create a design that speaks to the actual essence of the brand. Once the design is finalized, then comes the pivotal moment of submitting it to the TTB for approval. As many of our readers can

decorating techniques to the small brands, a craft distiller is attest this process is not always easy and can be fraught with able to confidently show their products right alongside any complications. As part of Loggerhead’s commitment to customer 41

service, they have your back every step of the way. Says

recycled and would be headed for a landfill. Loggerhead

Gilbertson, “There are occasionally several revisions

uses only materials that can be safely stripped during the

needed for the TTB approval. When the approval happens

recycle process. Says Gilbertson, “We all need to reduce

(it always happens), then it is a track meet to get the product decorated and out the door. Response time to customers is critical and keeping the process moving is extremely important.” Even after the TTB signs off on a label, Loggerhead

our carbon footprint. Why not do it with the bottle?” By maintaining their focus on providing high-quality, sustainable glass to the craft distilling industry, the word about Loggerhead has gotten out. With a team of just 14, they’re now filling orders from as far away as Japan

still works towards its customers’ success. By virtue

and Australia. Even so, their commitment to service

of being a leading bottle supplier in the industry,

above all else never falters. When asked for a final

they’ve built up innumerable connections with

piece of advice for craft distillers about to start

other vendors and aren’t afraid to share that

bottling, Gilbertson had this to say: “Craft distillers

knowledge. They’re skilled at matching a distillery

must think about the bottle decorating very early

with other vendors that share their same vision.

in the planning process. Printing is normally the

One thing that sets Loggerhead apart is their

last thing considered in most industries and so is

commitment to green business practices in all

the budget for decorating. When you get the end

aspects of their company. Glass is a unique material

user to grab your bottle from the shelf, rarely do

because it is theoretically infinitely recyclable; a used bottle can be melted down and remade into

they put it back. Remember the story on the bottle is very important.”

other applications with very little carbon emissions. The problem is, once a bottle is printed on using a type of ink that Loggerhead Deco in located Batavia, IL. For more information visit contains harmful chemicals or adhesives, it can no longer be or call (630) 206-374. Saxco AS 2:Layout 1 5/7/13 5:26 PM Page 1

Stock Inventory Custom Design Decorating Capsules Closures Corks eMail: Call Jimmy at 502-326-8451 or Chad at 502-326-8452

Your Clear Choice for Premium Packaging Solutions For more than 25 years, Saxco International has been helping distillers create the packaging identity that is their brand. A turn-key supplier of packaging needs, we offer a comprehensive range of products tailored to craft distillers, that includes bottles, corks, closures, and capsules.




Takingthe Back

Angel’s Share Written by Rockwell Rutter


Photo by Amanda Joy Christensen

here is a technological revolution going on in the craft changing the way distillers are thinking about spirit storage. distilling industry, and the market leaders of tomorrow will There are other competitors out there with various kinds of barrel

be the ones who are paying attention today. One company that is

sealants, but Tri-Seal’s is the only one that can boast this kind

spearheading this kind of technological change is AGRA Trading, of environmental-friendliness. Perhaps the greatest difference a large wholesaler of agricultural byproducts started in 1991 in is that while Barrel-Seal stops the good stuff from getting out Chico, CA. Every day, the folks at AGRA Trading are forced to (liquid evaporation), it uses a semi-permeable layer that still think outside the box; in fact, their industry demands it. Their business model is founded on taking something wasteful

allows the spirit to breathe normally. The potential benefits of a barrel sealant go beyond liquid loss

and finding a profitable use for it. After 21 years of successful and reducing topping amounts. Distillers and wine producers operation, they joined up last year with Rich Dobbins, a

often have to contend with borers, mold, and wood surface dry-out.

professional from a company called Tri-Seal USA with years of A barrel sealant can offer protection from many of these common experience in the agricultural coating field. It was this

hazards while permitting normal breathing thereby

partnership that led them to explore the craft distilling

maintaining the desired flavor profile. Rich Dobbins


explains that he feels he has the opportunity to,

Tri-Seal USA had developed a new product called, “Barrel-Seal,” a completely non-toxic,



“really help entrepreneurs be successful by helping to improve their yield and revenue.”

grade barrel coating that is 43

It’s no secret that there is a strong relationship between spirits was getting distillers to test Barrel-Seal on their beloved barrels, and the type of container they are stored in. Rich tells us that, but after seeing the results, business has been booming. In fact, “There is a desire to have traits similar to a good French or Barrel-Seal has now been applied to numerous other markets, European oak for wine is well known, as is the desire to have a including bee-boxes for beekeeping, kennels, nut-boxes and great American oak for spirits. If in coating either one, the desire more. is to allow the controlled ‘breathing’ of the cask to occur, thus

That said, AGRA Trading still has a soft spot for craft distillers

tannin shock, sugar lines and char flow are improved.” The loss and is constantly finding ways to improve its product. In fact, of liquid still occurs, but it comes down to regulating the outflow they’re currently testing Barrel-Seal on flat-sawn oak and of moisture to concentrate the liquid for best results. As a result, preliminary test results are promising. Once it’s ready for market, distillers have found that they can minimize variance in barrel to using this cheaper wood material in barrel construction would barrel taste by controlling “barrel surface evaporation rate” with drastically drive down the price of barrels, which means cost a breathable Tricopolymer film, much like a thermostat controls savings for everyone. heating and cooling. According to the chemical “recipe” AGRA is

At their core, AGRA Trading is all about providing tools for

able increase or decrease the moisture pass-thru rate by adding entrepreneurial distillers to become more efficient and profitable. more or less polymer chain in the mixture. Rich explains it by In an industry where players are typically underfunded and asking that we imagine spaghetti and sauce on a plate. “The overworked, getting an extra 8% out of each barrel can mean the more noodle is added, the less ‘breathing’ ability through the difference between a successful company and closing the doors. sauce, so to speak.”

Innovations like Barrel-Seal allow distillers to continually perfect

Even with such a revolutionary product, AGRA Trading got their craft while embracing the inevitable change that evolving off to a rough start with craft distillers. Keep in mind, distilling technology provides. technology hasn’t changed much in the last few hundred years, so a little pushback was expected. One of their biggest problems AGRA Trading is located in Chico, CA. For more information visit or call (855) 894-1782.


The road to starting your own craft distillery isn’t all shiny copper and alcoholic beverages. Find out if you are ready on page 34.. Photo by Lisa Simpson (The Liberty Distillery in Vancover, BC)

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NGS & Bulk Spirits Suppliers

Black Swan Barrels


CF Napa Brand Design


Thousand Oaks Barrel Co.


Thoroughbred Brands



6 & 21

Packaging Boilers


Rite Boiler


Napa Valley Distillery Rogue Spirits

Brad-Pak Enterprises



Global Package/Estal Packaging



Imperial-Packaging Corporation


Phoenix Packaging


Saxco International


Bottle & Glass Decorating Loggerhead Deco


Distilling Equipment Artisan Still Design



Bottle Manufacturers & Suppliers Bruni Glass Packaging Owens-Illinois, Inc.

6 & 29 48

Corks & Closures Paulson Supply Tapi USA

The Guide

Education Artisan Craft Distilling University


Labels 38 6, 21, & 44

LabelOne Connect, Inc. St. Louis Litho

Artisan Spirit sponsors

15 6&9


© Owens-Illinois, Inc.

Artisan Spirit


703 W. 7th Ave. Suite 220 Spokane, WA 99204

“Glass is essential to ensure the unique characteristics of Jack Daniel’s. Jack’s guiding words were ‘Every day we make it, we’ll make it the best we can.’ That’s a big reason we bottle in glass.” – Jeff Arnett

Master Distiller, The Jack Daniel Distillery #glassislife

Artisan Spirit: Summer 2013  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

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