Page 1

WINTER 2013

KENTUCKY

a PILGRIMAGE to THE BIRTHPLACE OF BOURBON

STANDING OUT in the SHADOW OF GIANTS DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME

the rising popularity of illegal home distillation


Brand Design for the Spirits, Wine and Beer Industries.

DESIGN FOR PACKAGING, LOGOS, CUSTOM BOTTLES, COLLATERAL, SIGNAGE, WEBSITES & NAMING 2787 napa valley corporate dr, napa, california 94558 t | 707 265 1891 www.cfnapa.com


26

35

51

TABLE of CONTENTS A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

8

THE FUTURE OF FLAVOR

42

A visit with Flavorman

NOTES ON A TASTING ROOM

10

Jan’s Corner

EXTENDING THE BEAM FAMILY LEGACY

45

Limestone Branch Distillery

LOOKING BACK AT THE LONG ROAD AHEAD

12

American Craft Distillers Association

VENDOME COPPER & BRASSWORKS

47

American made stills in the heart of bourbon country

FRANCHISE LAW FOR THE CRAFT DISTILLER

15

Defining the relationship between you and your distributor

STARLIGHT, STARBRIGHT

51

Starlight Distillery & Huber Orchard, Winery, and Vineyards

THE LIBERTY DISTILLERY

18

of Vancouver, British Columbia

THE PEERLESS REVIVAL

55

Bringing Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company back from the dead

GETTING THE BOND RIGHT

22

Care and feeding of the TTB Form 5110.56

THE HOME DISTILLING MOVEMENT57 Though still illegal, its popularity is on the rise

KENTUCKY26 The birthplace of bourbon

WILLETT DISTILLING COMPANY

31

TOASTING SUCCESS THROUGH THREE-INDUSTRY COLLABORATION59 Wine, beer, and spirits don’t mix?

of Bardstown, Kentucky

KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAILS

35

HOW TO SELECT A BOTTLE

61

with O-I

Stories from the Trail

CORSAIR ARTISAN DISTILLERY38

INFLUENCE.64 A sincere request for industry responsibility

of Nashville, Tennessee and Bowling Green, Kentucky

ADVERTISER INDEX

from the COVER PHOTO: Willett Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. Image by Amanda Joy Christensen.

66


Issue 5 Winter 2013 Publisher & Editor

Brian Christensen

Creative Director

Amanda Joy Christensen

Photographers

Amanda Joy Christensen David Donaldson



Contributors

          

Allison Atkins Josh Bayne Amber G. Christensen-Smith Pennfield Jensen Chris Lozier Jim McCoy Jan Morris Rockwell Rutter Scott Schiller Steven Seim Kellie Shevlin Marc E. Sorini

Sales & Marketing

Ashley Monroe

ARTISAN SPIRIT is the endorsed publication of the American Craft Distillers Association. ARTISAN SPIRIT is a quarterly publication by Artisan Spirit Media. www.artisanspiritmag.com facebook.com/ArtisanSpiritMagazine General Inquiries (509) 944-5919

twitter.com/_ArtisanSpirit Advertising (509) 991-8112

PO Box 31494 Spokane, WA 99223 All contents © 2013. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Neither Artisan Spirit Media 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 SPONSORS! Our mission at ARTISAN SPIRIT is to share and celebrate the art and science of artisan craft distilling. We are humbled by the support and sponsorship provided by Agra Marketing Group, American Craft Distillers Association, Black Swan Cooperage, Moonshine University, O-I, Pharmco-Aaper, Rogue Spirits, St. Louis Litho, and Tapi USA. With their help, we can further our common goals of supporting creativity, innovation, and integrity within the industry we all love so much.

Agra Marketing Group brings together a remarkable group of professionals dedicated to developing by-product markets and providing production resources to growers throughout the western United States. Agra Marketing Group has worked for over 20 years to create a large network of buyers and sellers of seasonal and year-round by-products. In 2010 Agra joined forces with Tri-Seal USA to develop a new coating, Barrel Seal, for the agriculture and distilling industries.

ACDA exists because of real-world momentum and a perceived need for a trade association in the U.S. governed by licensed craft distillers on behalf of craft distillers. Our mission includes legislative advocacy in support of a strong business environment for distillers, and through outreach to consumers help build brands and increase consumer awareness. Join us for our First Distillers’ Convention in Denver March 13-15! We welcome your ideas, suggestions and participation.

AgraMarketing Group Brand Logo

Black Swan Cooperage, LLC is a family run cooperage dedicated to serving the barrel needs of the craft distilling industry. Creator’s of the patent pending HONEY COMB® technology, this product line brings unique opportunities for faster aging and creating distinct new flavor profiles. Black Swan strives to create strong customer relations by catering to tradition, as well as developing new techniques to help the industry grow.

Moonshine University, the educational division of Distilled Spirits Epicenter, offers a variety of classes for enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, industry professionals and those seeking careers in the distilling industry. Our distillery was designed as part of our classroom, and all classes incorporate hands-on learning and sensory evaluation in order to provide a complete and comprehensive education. In addition to its knowledgeable instructors, Moonshine University hosts a range of renowned industry experts for specialized instruction and training.


O-I is the maker of honest, pure, iconic glass that builds brands. As a trusted partner for many of the world’s leading spirit brands, we help large and smallvolume craft distillers make powerful connections with consumers through glass packaging that sets products apart in a growing global marketplace. O-I’s Glass Is Life™ movement promotes the widespread benefits of glass in key markets around the globe. For more information, visit www.o-i.com or www.glassislife.com or contact glass@o-i.com.

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.

An AC Label Company

Louis Litho can service 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 Artisan Spirit Magazine.


A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: Looking back at 2013 would be a good focus for the last issue of the year... Travel will be a big part of our

But there is just too damn much going on in

1

2014 to linger on what was admittedly a great

agenda in the coming year. There was

year for craft distilling. We kick into gear on

a staggering amount of information

February 5-6 for the American Craft Distillers

and education to be had while on

Association’s first “Judging of Craft Spirits.”

our tour of Kentucky, Indiana, and

Artisan Spirit will be on hand to cover the

Tennessee last September. We also

judging experience and work directly with the

gained a fresh perspective on how

ACDA judging team. Next up

much differentiation can be found

are three notable conventions

between distillers that share

early in 2014. The American

the “craft” label. There were

Craft Distillers Association’s

obvious

inaugural

size (the joys of exploring

craft

distilling

differences

like

convention in Denver, CO this

a five story “Rick House”

March, followed by American

cannot be overstated), and

11th

more nuanced contrasts in

annual convention in Seattle,

philosophy and production

Distilling

Institute’s

WA this April. Another new convention, the Craft Beverage

2

3

styles. The diversity reminded us that while all craft spirits are not created under the

Expo, is taking place in San Jose, CA this May -- where members of

same circumstances, the differences help set the

all three craft beverage industries will

industry apart in a positive and innovative way. We look forward to bringing you more stories and

gather to talk shop. Next year’s conventions will only be

information on the world of craft in the years ahead.

the tip of the iceberg in terms of events

As always, let us know what you think. We couldn’t do

pertaining to the industry. There will

4

it without you.

also be numerous other trade shows, tasting events, and industry gatherings worth considering. With that in mind, Artisan Spirit will be putting out an interactive Brian Christensen

calendar populated with all things craft. The goal: to provide you with a way to plan your year, and avoid missing any of the great events and shows that pop up every month. Have an event or gathering you think should make the list? Send us the details at info@artisanspiritmag.com. Keep an eye on our upcoming newsletters and www.artisanspiritmag.com for updates as they become available.

CALL:

(509) 944-5919

EMAIL:

brian@artisanspiritmag.com

WRITE: 

PO Box 31494 Spokane, WA 99223

1 Rob Sherman of Vendome awing us with another magnificent still. SEE PAGE 47 2 Drew Kulsveen providing the Artisan Spirit team with a dynamic tour of Willett Distillery. SEE PAGE 31 3 & 4 Artisan Spirit team enjoying Huber’s Farm: Bratwurst, potato salad, and pumpkin ice cream. Enough said. SEE PAGE 51

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jan’s corner written by Jan Morris photo courtesy of The Hardware Distillery Co.

notes on a

TASTING ROOM O

ur little distillery is in a tiny tourist town. Running the

open our doors, and sell t-shirts and glassware. The locals in our

tasting room in our distillery is a fun job. The best part little town would stop by and give us encouragement. is the people.

I remember a particularly sunny, warm weekend. The sunlight

We have some local regulars, and in the summer the tourists

flooded through the open doors and it was so bright that it was

arrive. When our customers come into the distillery, they are

not easy to read our name on the glassware. Not yet permitted

relaxed and in the mood to have a good time. After all, they are

to sell spirits, I put cold, day-old coffee into a display of shot

on vacation.

glasses, and added a little water. It looked pretty good. In the

I have a friend, who I will identify only as “M,” who helps out bright sunlight, the old, cold coffee shared the amber glow of at the distillery. She loves to check IDs. She checks everyone’s

whiskey…somewhat. A tall man arrived on a motorcycle. He

ID. M does not have good eyesight, and sometimes she forgets

looked around and asked if the shot glasses were samples. I

her glasses. It does not matter how old a customer appears. She

explained the situation and what was in them. Undeterred, he

likes to make sure. Most elderly customers are surprised, as M

threw it back in one gulp. All he said was, “Thank you,” and rode

gets out her pocket magnifying glass, squints at their ID and

off on his motorcycle.

then squints at them. Some claim that just showing their ID to her gives them a hot flash.

Now we serve real spirits in our shot glasses. In our state, we must serve our samples “unadulterated.” No ice, no water,

The tourists come from all over the world. One day two women just the spirit at room temperature. Many people know what to recognized each other’s French accents, and discovered that expect. Then there are those who shriek: “My nose hairs are on they had lived in the same village in France more than 50 years

fire!” I cannot help but offer advice to those starting a tasting

ago. They sat down and chatted a very long time.

room, keep some water handy.

I wonder how many distillers share our initial tasting room

Every day I am pleasantly surprised at the variety of the job.

experience. We had a tasting room ready to go, but were unable

Our customers come from all walks of life and from all parts of

to sell spirits for reasons that were beyond our control. We

the world. And if they arrive when M is at the distillery, all of

survived this situation for more than a year. It felt like a lifetime. them get the privilege of having their ID checked. During that year, our state allowed us to show people our

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

distillery and sell merchandise under our retailing license, but husband Chuck. They are located in Hoodsport, WA. For more info visit we could not sell spirits. On the holiday weekends we would www.thehardwaredistillery.com or call (206) 300-0877.

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AMERICAN CRAFT DISTILLERS ASSOCIATION:

LOOKING BACK at the LONG ROAD AHEAD BY PENNFIELD JENSEN

comparison between craft brewing growth and craft distilling

P

rior to the Civil War, there were some 5,000 distilleries in the United States. True, most were of the farm/craft variety

in the living tradition of the Old World. But it was the grain guys, once the rum trade collapsed, who drove the business end of distilling, fueling Westward Expansion and, after WWI, the emergence of the United States as a world economic power. We know how The Volstead Act convulsed America, the repeal of which has only recently begun to creep back into the fabric of American life. That is as long as you think of 1982 as relatively recent, for that was the year Jorg Rupf founded St. George Spirits in Alameda, CA, by most estimates the first craft distiller of the modern era. A lot of spirits have passed over the counter since the Genie, unleashed by Volstead, was returned to its lantern. And a lot of beer. Today, at an estimated $10.2 Billion, it is craft beer that is redefining American beverage consumption. As someone coming

growth made by Danny Brager of Nielsen Associates. In his study, the growth percentage of craft beer over the first quarter of 2013 was compared with the growth percentage of craft distilling over the same period.

30% 25% 20%

VOLUME GROWTH VS. BRAND PROLIFERATION QUARTER ONE 2013 vs QUARTER ONE 2012 CRAFT SPIRITS

CRAFT BEERS

22%

15% 10% 5% 0%

as I do from the craft-brewing world, I’ll definitely join everyone in lifting a pint to that. The success of craft brewing has set a metric that has

27%

6% Craft Volume Growth

8%

Growth in Number of Craft Brands

What this comparison shows us is a growth potential for craft

electrified craft spirits. Michael Kinstlick (Coppersea Distilling) distillers that is roughly five times greater than that for craft has compared the growth of craft distillers to craft brewers and brewers. Brager calls this “The Long Runway” for craft distilling. discovered that, in the comparable period in their respective Bottom line, it means craft distilling has a lot of room to grow. lifetimes, craft spirits is growing at a slightly greater rate than A lot of room. craft brewing. Does that mean craft spirits will match the

At present, we don’t accurately know the gross annual revenues

“hockey stick” of craft beer and come bursting over the $10 of craft distilling. In part that stems from the fact that craft billion seawall within the next 20 years? Although unlikely, it is distilling is so new; the data is simply not there. We also lack delicious to imagine.

good metrics. By comparison, the annual volume of craft brewers

What carries more gravitas, but no less voltage, is the can be measured by calculating their tiered federal excise tax

12 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


payments. Since craft distillers all pay the same excise tax, Ralph Erenzo of Tuthilltown has put it succinctly so many times, that metric is not available to us. Guestmetrics does a good job “if you’re going to call yourself a distiller, you should distill calculating on-premise sales based on cash register data, and something.” Nielsen Associates tracks UPC codes to measure off-premise sales. However, neither is as accurate as any of us would like.

As has been mentioned before in these pages, it is the guilds, with their power to condense discussions and consolidate

Danny Brager of Nielsen Associates states that consumers of viewpoints that will play a leading role in addressing the definition both craft and mainstream spirits are roughly 23 percent of sales of craft, Federal Excise Tax reduction, and many other pressing growth. And the growth is in premium, ultra premium and super concerns. premium. The take-away here is that craft is definitely pushing high-ticket, high-profit growth.

That is why the opening session of ACDA’s conference in Denver will be a Distilling Guilds Roundtable where the presidents of all the existing Guilds can initiate the dialogues necessary to create

30% 25%

a national voice based on solid regional grass-roots consensus

27%

that will be heard and respected in each state, and in Washington

CRAFT SPIRITS GROWTH QUARTER ONE 2013

20%

Besides, if it’s not going to be the craft distillers themselves, working through a not-for-profit Trade Association that they direct, who else will set the standards and scribe the definitions?

15%

Who else should set the stage for the rounds of legislative efforts

14%

10%

required to create effective, equable, and desirable business environments for craft?

5% 0% -5%

D.C.

Craft Spirits with Tito’s

Craft Spirits without Tito’s

-1.3%

Pennfield Jensen is the executive director of the ACDA, visit www.americancraftdistillers.org for more info or to join.

Mainstream Spirits

In the graph above, Danny Brager calculates total craft distilling growth in the 1st quarter of 2013. Interestingly, when he includes Tito’s sales in the craft category, Tito’s sales volume is virtually 50 percent of all craft spirits sold in America. Specifically, the overall growth of all craft sales (including Tito’s) is 27 percent. Excluding Tito’s, craft growth is 14 percent. There is an argument brewing here, and it has to do with the definition of “Craft” itself. This argument, among distillers whom we all know and respect, remains highly subjective. What we do have is a definition of micro distiller: a distiller annually producing less that 100,000 proof gallons — about 42,000plus 9-liter cases of 100 proof spirit. But even here, where we try to be black and white, the dominant color is gray. The deeper questions are “What is ‘craft?’” And “Who is going to define it.” What will count is not my opinion, nor yours, but a collective assessment of the meaning and definition of craft. Sure, it has to have some basis in volume, but it also needs to incorporate individual elements, ownership, personal vision, a commitment to quality and authenticity, and to being honest — honest about what it’s made of, how it’s made, and how it’s identified. As

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%(,(!%(

Inaugural

O 3K,#)%

THE LARGEST GATHERING OF LICENSED DISTILLERS IN THE US march 13 - 15, 2014 • Denver, colorado

• fet •

Keynote speaker: president and ceo of discus

legislation

argi • Tourism build a guild

ENGAGE

Marketing:

brand building & ELEVATE

recognition CONNECT

supply • service • support

vendors

www.americancraftdistillers.org


Marc E. Sorini is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, based in the Firm’s Washington D.C. office. He leads the Firm’s Alcohol Regulatory & Distribution Group, where he concentrates his practice on regulatory and litigation issues faced by supplier-tier industry members. His practice includes distribution agreements, distribution counseling and litigation, product formulation, labeling, promotional compliance, compliance strategy, and federal and state tax and trade practice enforcement defense.

FRANCHISE LAW for the CRAFT DISTILLER BY MARC E. SORINI

the distribution (and often retail sale) of distilled spirits. In the remaining so-called “open” or “license” states, private enterprises can sell and distribute spirits. In the years following Prohibition, most states gradually enacted laws prohibiting or severely limiting the ability of a distiller to sell directly to a retailer or to own their own distribution business. These laws codify what we know today as the “three-tier system.” Most

M

astering distribution is as important to a successful of what we think of today as distribution law regulates the distiller as mastering distilling, packaging or advertising. relationship between distillers and distributors.

In a heavily-regulated industry, this requires knowledge of the

Second, eighteen “open states” plus the District of Columbia

applicable laws and regulations. This article explores, albeit at are non-franchise. In these jurisdictions, contract law and the a very general level, how to manage one important category of Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) provide the primary rules those laws; so-called “franchise” laws.

governing the relationship between distiller and distributor. In

At the outset, it is important to recognize that most of the these places, parties are reasonably free to order their affairs laws governing the distribution of alcohol beverages arise at the based on mutual agreement, with background and unwritten state, not federal, level. Contrary to a popular misperception, the principles filled in by the UCC and other background doctrines. 21st Amendment, which ended Prohibition, did not establish or Some state laws also include “true” franchise laws, designed to mandate a three-tier system. The 21st Amendment and post- protect McDonald’s franchisees and the like, but relationships Prohibition alcohol policy did, however, leave to the states the between a small distiller or importer and a spirits distributor primary authority over many aspects of alcohol regulation. In rarely receive protection under such laws. Third, Minnesota and Oklahoma often get labeled as “reverse the case of distribution, federal law provides many important background principles (e.g., antitrust law, trademark law), but franchise” states. In these states, every distributor in the state has the (theoretically) equal right to purchase distilled spirits more specific regulation is left almost entirely to the states. We start by identifying the so-called “franchise” states.

FRANCHISE STATES

from any supplier. This bizarrely demonstrates the whimsical nature of state alcohol policy: While most states’ legislators have passed laws requiring exclusivity (for supposedly compelling

When it comes to distilled spirits distribution, I find it useful public policy reasons), these two states have prohibited this to classify the states into four categories. First, seventeen states same practice. plus several counties in Maryland are “control” jurisdictions. In

Fourth, and importantly for this article, are the so-called

a “control” jurisdiction, the government holds a monopoly on “franchise” states. In these states, enactments, usually specific

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STATES WITH SPIRITS “FRANCHISE” LAW

to spirits or alcohol beverages, regulate the termination of a distributor by a distiller or spirits importer. Today there are thirteen franchise states. Distillers entering a new state cannot avoid knowing whether or not it is a control jurisdiction. But I submit that a distiller also ought to know where the jurisdiction falls into the other three categories. In particular, knowing that a state is a franchise state can and should influence a distiller’s decision making when entering a new market.

1. ARKANSAS 2. CONNECTICUT

after distiller makes sales for six months or more

3. DELAWARE

but not-for-cause termination with compensation permitted

4. GEORGIA

FRANCHISE LAW BASICS

5. KANSAS 6. MASSACHUSETTS after distiller makes “regular sales” of brand for six months or more

7. MISSOURI

only for “nationally advertised” brands

10. NEW MEXICO 11. TENNESSEE

if “community of interest” exists between the distiller and wholesaler

12. WASHINGTON

8. NEVADA

if distiller represents 5% or more of wholesaler’s business

if distiller sells at least 250 cases of spirits per year in Nevada

At their heart, franchise laws are about protecting distributors,

9. NEW JERSEY

13. WISCONSIN

which is why DISCUS and other critics of such laws often call them “monopoly protection” laws. At the heart of this protection d i s t r i b u t o r s . is a requirement that the distiller demonstrate “cause” (usually But each distiller called “good cause”) before it can terminate a distributor. The should establish a laws usually describe “cause” as a distributor’s breach of some system and refine it based on experiences learned from stateagreement or obligation placed on it by a supplier, plus a number to-state. Moreover, particularly in a franchise state, Ronald of “extraordinary” causes such as criminal conviction, loss of a Reagan’s famous phrase, “trust, but verify,” holds especially license, and similar unusual (and bad) occurrences. true. A distributor throwing around promises about sales figures, A second feature of most franchise laws is the requirement distribution points and the like ought to be willing to have those that the distiller give the distributor “notice” and an “opportunity promises reduced to writing and turned into obligations. to cure” any alleged deficient performance. The law generally establishes a minimum amount of time (usually 60 or 90 days)

THE POWER OF “NO”

that the distiller must provide to the distributor in order to cure

A corollary to due diligence is the willingness to say “no.”

such deficiencies.

Speaking with a distributor about opening up a new state market

Perhaps most importantly, most franchise laws do not permit is exciting, and sales and marketing teams begin to invest time the parties to waive the terms of the law. In other words, the and effort into rollout plans and increased sales projections. terms of the franchise law supersedes conflicting portions of a

All too often, I find that clients become so invested in new

written contact. While important exceptions to this general rule rollout plans that they “lock in” a distributor before completing exist, distillers should recognize that in a franchise state they the due diligence or negotiation process. Suddenly, after cannot necessarily count on obtaining the benefit of all the terms promising initial discussions, the distiller throws all its leverage of their agreement in all circumstances.

out the window as it strives to meet an arbitrary launch deadline

Distillers also should recognize that not all franchise laws at all costs. Resist the temptation. are alike. For example, the ability of a distiller to terminate in

Distillers should be willing to say “no” if a distributor will

Delaware is much greater than it is in Georgia. Understanding not agree to reasonable terms. Indeed, for a small distiller still important particulars about a given state’s franchise law provides expanding, there are invariably other opportunities and territories important insight that should inform how to proceed with a that will prove better than accepting a sub-optimal arrangement distributor in a franchise state.

THE IMPORTANCE OF DUE DILIGENCE While specifics can vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction,

in a franchise state. In my experience, nothing improves longterm negotiating credibility more than walking away from a deal that concedes too much.

distillers generally must assume that any distribution relationship

THE BENEFITS OF A WRITTEN CONTRACT

will last a very long time. In light of this, due diligence about

In the distilled spirits business, many small distillers and

prospective distributors is very important.

importers still work with distributors based on “handshake

Every distiller will apply different criteria in evaluating deals.” Doing this has some merits in non-franchise states. But

16 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


in a franchise state, the lack of a written agreement deprives the clause in the parties’ agreement can reduce or eliminate this distiller of almost any leverage if the relationship goes bad. In many instances, distributors are willing to sell brand

home court advantage. In short, in a franchise state distillers should insist on a

distribution rights if the relationship with the distiller is not written agreement, and one that provides them with at least working out. But some distributors “collect” brands to keep them some protections. Of course, today’s distributors possess plenty from competitors, and others may demand an unreasonable price of bargaining power, so the final agreement may not reflect the for a brand. In such circumstances, the threat of a “good cause” distiller’s ideal. But entering into a distribution relationship in termination provides the distiller with leverage.

a franchise state without any written terms puts your brand at

Recall that most franchise laws define cause as a breach of serious risk in that state.

.....

some agreement or obligation placed on the distributor. In the absence of a written contract, it becomes very hard to establish

Distillers need to familiarize themselves with these issues

what terms and obligations the distributor agreed to and the or they will find their careful distilling, aging, packaging and distiller expected. Thus, although a written contract may not labeling will be compromised by an inability to effectively get be able to authorize uncompensated termination without cause to market. Distillers also should become politically involved

(recall that a distributor cannot waive franchise law protections so that someday state legislatures recognize the absurdity of in most states), it can impose performance requirements that “protecting” billion-dollar distributors from small distillers and can form the basis of a good cause termination.

importers. Until that happens, understanding distribution law Written contracts provide other, more esoteric, benefits. Venue will be a critical skill to the successful craft distiller. provides one example. While a small distillery can probably expect a reasonably favorable judge or jury in its home state, Marc E. Sorini is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery the distributor in another state will enjoy the “home court” LLP. Nothing in this article should be construed as or used as a substitute

advantage in most disputes. Including a mandatory arbitration for legal advice. For more info visit www.mwe.com/Marc-E-Sorini or

call (202) 756-8284.

P E R ST I L L S P O C R U O ALL OF MADE ARE HAND .A. IN THE U.S

A E E D TO B E N U O Y T A WH IN C A N BU I L D EAT PRIDE E R G W , E N K A W T O WE E. A L L O NS D OMER CAR NDUSTRY. I T S G U N I C L R F RO M 1 5 0 G L I U T O IN DIS NS H I P A N D T H E C R A FT A 0-334-3400 N I M S S T S F E C A S.COM 27 C R L IL SU T 4 S LY OU R C IL OW, KY 4202 .HILLB WWW

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THE LIBERTY DISTILLERY

Written by Allison Atkins /// Photography by David Donaldson, The Liberty Distillery

D

istilling spirits has become such a swiftly growing trade

In 2008, Robert decided that after tasting and evaluating

that one’s story is just as important as the product itself. professionally for more than 35 years it was time to manifest

Lisa Colls Simpson, co-founder of The Liberty Distillery in

his dream of opening up a distillery. For Lisa’s part, after going

Vancouver, British Columbia reflects: “Artisan people in general

through breast cancer in 2009 she was determined to pursue her

are passionate about their craft and the artisan spirit industry is

appetite for adventure. The two joined forces and combined their

filled with people dedicated to creating their version of a unique, experience in the industry, along with previous entrepreneurial high quality spirit. Every distillery has a personality and story to tell.” Lisa, along with her husband Robert Simpson, founded The Liberty Distillery in 2010 on Granville Island.

knowledge, and jump-started their own distillery. The cliché that good things never come easy could not be truer for this couple. Lisa and Robert faced many adversities

In hindsight, Lisa and Robert may not have opened their own

when trying to launch The Liberty Distillery. “Most people in

distillery if they had known how long it would take them to get

the spirit industry agree ‘barriers to entry’ are enormous. The

started. What Lisa and Robert’s story teaches an aspiring distiller obvious being the amount of invested time prior to generating is that patience is necessary and the amount of time invested in opening a distillery is monumental.

cash flow, capital requirements and cash outlay, complying with regulatory requirements for a ‘High Hazard’ industry, overcoming

Lisa has had a wide-ranging career spanning different industry

by-laws and building codes in a highly regulated market.” But

and geographical locations. She has worked in Tokyo, Miami, New

these common barriers of the trade seemed exponentially larger

York, and Vancouver, working in industries ranging from banking

for Lisa and Robert.

to marketing, and she even had a stint as a pastry chef. Robert,

It took approximately 18 months to secure their Approval in

on the other hand, is a well sought-after wine tasting expert with

Principal, all the while paying rent for the lease. Once the couple

a very developed palate. He has been on several tasting panels

obtained the proper paperwork, the construction process took

domestically and internationally.

on a life of its own. They were required to gain approval from

18 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


various departments

reflect on where we

regarding

the

have come from, the

structure. These are

people we have met,

all standard barriers

all the people we

for

have yet to meet, and

many

budding

distillers wanting to

the

start

out,

however

play in unchartered

Lisa

and

Robert

territory.” Lisa also

also

opportunity

mentioned

encountered

that

it

a d d i t i o n a l

helped

complications

such

see her goal during

as

their

times of frustration.

roof

Sometimes she would

space

even place an empty

relocating

boiler

to

because

the of

constraints,

and

mock-up

a

Fire Safety Upgrade that was mandated by their building. Many people would be discouraged by the amount of obstacles

to

to

visually

of

their

spirit bottle on her desk so she could envision it one day filled with their aged whiskey.

Lisa and Robert faced during the beginning of their career as

Because The Liberty Distillery is located outside of the United

distillers. When asked about what kept them moving forward

States, there are a few different laws regarding the distilling

during such adversity, Lisa answered, “Robert and I are both

process. For example, it is illegal in Canada to call un-aged whiskey

passionate about food, wine, and spirits. We are passionate “white whiskey,” so instead they are calling their version; Railspur about people, friendships, relationships, learning and sharing No. 1 White. Whiskey is an important part of their distillery knowledge. Every time I/we get discouraged we just have to

and there is a required three-year minimum waiting period in

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 19


Canada before you can release

extra dollars on a hand crafted

whiskey. In addition, under the

spirit bottle. There is an entire

BC Craft Distillery Agreement,

population of spirit enthusiasts

they are limited to an annual

who are not familiar with the

production of 50,000 liters of

term craft.” Lisa is up to the

finished product or less. The

task of educating the public

couple is also mandated to

and works closely with the

source only local ingredients

community.

in their craft, meaning that

is not only home to an Artisan

Granville

Island

all grains and fruit used are

Community but also benefits

grown in British Columbia.

from foot traffic of six million

This allows for 100 percent

plus tourists per year.

tax exemption. Lisa says, “We

Despite

the

challenges

have a unique opportunity that

in opening up The Liberty

offers a huge advantage over

Distillery, it has become an

the International Brands. We can offer our signature products

asset to the community. The lessons that can be learned from

while simultaneously responding to marketplace trends, and

Lisa and Robert Simpson’s experiences are invaluable: Expect

local clients’ demand — and how fun is that!” The final barrier set before Lisa and Robert has come in the form of public awareness. Lisa says, “The hand crafted small

the unexpected, live every day with curiosity and positivity, and most importantly, be patient and persistent and your dreams will eventually come true.

batch spirit segment is trendy and experiencing explosive growth. However, it is still not well understood. Many do not understand Liberty Distillery is located in Vancouver, BC. For more information what makes ‘craft’ different, or why someone would want to spend

visit www.thelibertydistillery.com or call (604) 558-1998.

20 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


Next we need to ask: How do we compute the operations bond, and what are the minimums? Most distillers have each of the three types of DSP operations – distilling,

Getting Bond Right! the

CARE AND FEEDING OF THE TTB FORM 5110.56

warehousing and processing spirits. The minimum bond for all three operations is $15,000, which covers about 1,100 proof gallons of spirits. At 80 proof, that is about 1,375 wine gallons of product. Ten barrels of whisky, each holding 50 gallons at 120 proof, is 500 wine gallons, or 600 proof gallons. A 375 gallon tote of 190 proof neutral spirits is 712.5 proof gallons. Three pallets (144 cases) of bottled product, 80 proof, in cases of 12 bottles each, 750ml bottles, is 342.4 wine gallons or 273.9 proof gallons. A DSP with the barrels, the tote, and the case goods in this example will have 1,586.4 proof gallons to be bonded, which equates, at $13.50 excise tax rate, to $21,416.40 in potential government revenue to be subject to the bond. Many plants have started under the minimum $15,000 bond, the point here being that the minimum bond is restrictive, and the planning of product inventory volumes (bulk

WRITTEN BY JIM MCCOY

and bottled) may require the operations bond to be larger, right from the start.

A

Second, is withdrawal bond coverage, which is in addition to the above defined operations coverage. It covers deferral of critical piece of the distiller’s puzzle in establishing their

excise tax from the date of withdrawal “tax determined” until

Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP) is the process of obtaining

the tax is actually paid to the government. A small distiller,

and providing to TTB a perfectly executed Distilled Spirits Bond

projecting to pay less than $50,000 per calendar year, may file

– TTB F 5110.56. The purpose of the bond is to provide the

their Excise tax return (TTB F 5000.24) and pay excise tax on

government with a guarantee that excise taxes will be paid, and

spirits removed from bond on a quarterly basis, otherwise, the

assurance that the distiller will comply with Federal laws and

returns and payments are due semi-monthly (twice a month).

regulations. TTB will not process an application for, nor approve, The tax return and payment must be on time or penalties and a DSP unless a correctly prepared bond is included in the

interest are due. TTB publishes the due dates on their website.

application package. Also, TTB requires that the Bond form be

A distiller may also pay the tax on or before the date when

original – it must be sent to TTB, not just uploaded as an image

the products are removed, in which case no withdrawal bond is

in the Permits Online program.

needed. This would involve filing of a “Prepayment Return” each

Referring to the bonding requirements in 27 CFR Part 19, the

and every day when products are sold. Removals of products

distiller has two types of coverage to consider. First, operations

include shipments to wholesalers and transfers to your tasting

bond coverage covers the tax value of distilled spirits held on the

and retail premises. If you have those types of operations at

distillery or in the process of being transferred in bond to the

your distillery, remember, they are adjacent to the DSP and not

distillery bonded premises. It also covers the tax value of export

technically part of the DSP. The tax is due on bottled products

shipments that have left the plant but which the distiller has

when removed, unless a withdrawal deferment bond is provided.

yet to provide TTB proof of exportation from the US. In general

If you sell 100 proof gallons per 3 month period, a withdrawal

terms, the operations bond covers spirits on hand, in transit or

bond of $1,350.00 would be required to enable quarterly filing.

unaccounted for. Unaccounted for? That would be spirits lost or In order to set an appropriate withdrawal bond amount, you will destroyed which have yet to be accepted by TTB as accounted

need to project your taxes due on withdrawals for each tax period,

for by the distiller.

in proof gallons, multiplied by the $13.50 per PG tax rate.

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The “PRINCIPAL/ OBLIGOR” is the company covered by the bond; the name MUST be exactly as it is shown on the articles of inc/org filed with the state. For example, if an LLC, the name might be “Jim Distilling, LLC” – be sure that the comma is included in the typed name everywhere it appears. Any punctuation, dashes or spelling must be exact, or TTB will return the bond for correction.

Check “UNIT BOND” to cover operations and withdrawals; the first bond is an “ORIGINAL” bond.

For “AMOUNT OF BOND” enter the TOTAL of the bond.

“ADDRESS OF BUSINESS OFFICE” can either be the plant site, or another address.

The amount is split on page 2, but the TOTAL goes on Page 1.

If the company office is not at the plant, be sure this is consistent with what is entered on the permit and registration.

“PRINCIPAL/ OBLIGOR” will be named EXACTLY as it was in the upper left block, and a person with authority will sign for the principal, and that person’s name and title will be entered

Enter the company Employer Identification Number (EIN) which is obtained online from IRS.

BE SURE THE PERSON HAS THE AUTHORITY TO EXECUTE AS ESTABLISHED IN THE ORGANIZATIONAL DOCUMENTS GIVEN TO TTB.

Have the surety company fill “BOND CATEGORY” in with their name and bond number.

The “BOND EXECUTION” date is entered by the surety when they execute the bond. This date is also entered at the top right of page 2, AND be sure that the surety power of attorney (their form, required to be attached to the bond) is certified true/correct/current as of this same date. Usually the surety POA document has in its last paragraph a certification that the authority of the person signing remains current – that certification should have the same date as the bond execution date. VERY IMPORTANT!

Beyond the issue of how much bond coverage should be obtained for operation of the plant is the actual completion of the bond form itself. Beginning on page 1 of the Distilled Spirits Bond, TTB F 5110.56, which is available as a download from the TTB. GOV website, use the following guidelines...

Two witnesses sign to verify the principals’ signature.

Surety executes along the lower left, showing the name of the surety company, the ORIGINAL HAND WRITTEN signature of their representative, and that person’s name and title. The surety will also apply their embossed seal to the lower left, where indicated.

If the corporation or LLC has a seal, the witnesses are not necessary, just apply the seal in the lower right where indicated.

For “CORPORATIONS/ PARTNERSHIPS, OR LLC SEALS” be sure to show the state where the company is organized, and either apply the company seal, or mark the “THE CORPORATION/LLC HAS NO SEAL” and have two witnesses sign. FAILURE TO CORRECTLY EXECUTE THIS ITEM IS THE MOST COMMON ERROR.

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Most of page 2 is arranged in columns – this is where the bond coverage details are presented...

Column 1, enter the name of the company and physical address of the plant.

Column 2, leave “REGISTRY NUMBER” blank for your original bond. This DSP number will be entered by TTB and will be needed for any future bond updates.

Column 3, enter the “OPERATIONS COVERAGE” amount, and click the appropriate operations – “DISTILLER”“WAREHOUSEMAN” – “PROCESSOR”. The PDF has a drop down that enables you to select each of the three operations; some distilleries may have an adjacent bonded wine cellar. That operation can be covered by this bond, as well. A small winery has a minimum $1,000 bond coverage, which should be added to the DSP coverage.

Enter the name of the “PRINCIPAL/ OBLIGOR” EXACTLY correct.

The “EXECUTION DATE” must match the “BOND EXECUTION” date on page 1. Column 4, enter the “WITHDRAWAL COVERAGE” amount, and click the appropriate operations – “DISTILLER” – “WAREHOUSEMAN” – “PROCESSOR” Be sure to show the total “OPERATIONS COVERAGE” and “WITHDRAWAL COVERAGE” at the bottom of the respective columns. The total of these two fields will equal the AMOUNT OF BOND shown on page 1.

THE TTB BOND MUST BE PERFECT OR IT WILL BE RETURNED FOR CORRECTION, DELAYING YOUR APPLICATION

While TTB rules do allow for a cash or Treasury securities

Establishing the required bond coverage and strengthening it

collateral bond, the most common type of bond is obtained as

as your distillery business grows is a critically important aspect

an insurance policy through an insurance company – “surety.” of compliance with the Federal rules that govern your operation. Most major companies will provide this coverage, though a local Absent a bond, you are absent a permit to operate! Getting agent may not be familiar with the form or type of bond if they

your bond documents perfect means that you have significantly

have yet to deal with a distiller, winery or brewery.

increased the likelihood that your DSP will receive a prompt

You may have seen the term “Consent of Surety.” This is an

review and approval. A bond that is not accepted will leave you

extension of the terms of the operations bond for certain reasons, scrambling to get it corrected in time to avoid TTB abandonment by filing TTB Form 5000.18 – Change in Bond (Consent of of your application. Abandonment means re-filing everything. Surety). A typical usage of this form is for coverage of tax on

Get the bond right and get your approval faster.

spirits in transit between non-contiguous portions of a DSP premises. Another extension of the bond is needed to facilitate Jim McCoy is Managing Consultant for J. McCoy Alcohol & Tobacco

alternation of a portion of the DSP premises with a bonded Compliance Consultants LLC in Cincinnati, OH. Jim served over

32 years with ATF and TTB, establishing his consulting firm in 2010 to assist alcohol and tobacco businesses in their efforts to meet same manner as the bond, and must also be submitted to TTB Federal regulatory and tax requirements. For more information visit in the original form. www.jmccoyconsultants.com or email jmccoy@jmccoyconsultants.com winery or brewery. This form is executed by the surety in the

24 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


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R E G I S T E R T O D A Y A T www.CraftBeverageExpo.com. M AY 6-8, 2014 | SA N J O S E C O N V E N T I O N C E N T E R Bringing Artisan Beer, Wine and Spirits to Market WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 25


KENTUCKY THE BIRTHPLACE OF BOURBON

WRITTEN BY CHRIS LOZIER PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN


Kentucky’s distilling history dates back to the first European settlement of the territory in the 1700’s.

A healthy portion of the area’s first corn

gained its own reputation and industry.

harvest was reserved for making whiskey,

Kentucky whiskey grew to be in such

and the good corn and limestone water in

high demand that people like Evan

the Kentucky distilling industry was drastically different. “They have over time gone from a

the area, combined with the rich distilling

Williams were able to make a living

fairly broad range of whiskies and grains

histories of the Europeans that settled

solely by distilling. Many more distillers

down to one region focused on one style

there, resulted in an exceptionally high

followed as the industry grew, and

of bourbon, one expression, and they

production of whiskey. This whiskey was

Kentucky’s distilling industry became one

have perfected it. Bourbon is absolutely

shipped to much of the surrounding area

of the largest in the world. Now, ninety-

amazing,”

and as distillers shared their knowledge,

five percent of the world’s bourbon comes

Corsair Distillery. While only a handful of

a Kentucky tradition that still lives on,

from Kentucky, according to the Kentucky

conglomerates run the show, they offer a

the quality increased with the demand.

Distillers Association, and at a whopping

wide variety of historic brands fitting every

By shipping their whiskey in oak

4.7 million, there are more barrels of

quality level and price point, meeting an

barrels they learned about the benefits

aging bourbon in the state than people.

of oak barrel maturation and eventually

The region was also prominent for

most Kentucky whiskey came to be

illegal

moonshine

called bourbon, which is the name of a

prohibition,

when

production Al

Capone

says

Andrew

Webber

of

overwhelming demand for bourbon that cannot currently be met.

during alone

Kentucky county now better known for

supplied over 10,000 speakeasies with

The demand for bourbon is so high

its racehorses than its whiskey. There

Kentucky whiskey. During prohibition

right now that distilleries will not sell

were many varieties of whiskey due to

several distilleries remained in business

their bourbon to brands other than their

the vast number of farmers who distilled,

to

own unless they have a prior arrangement.

distribute

whiskey

for of

medicinal provisional

Distillers have to meet their own needs

of

talent,

first, and the common practice of buying

each other’s spirits to be the best education.

recipes, mash bills, information, yeasts,

someone else’s bourbon and repackaging

Kentucky whiskey quickly became some

techniques and livelihoods were lost, and

it as their own is becoming less viable.

of the best whiskey, and the region

when Prohibition was finally repealed,

This is mainly because the bourbon has to

however as distillers shared whiskey and

purposes

by

means

techniques they found this exploration of

licenses.

An

abundance

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“We stand in the shadow of giants. So to make our way, we chose to try to be as different as possible.” ANDREW WEBBER CORSAIR DISTILLERY

“In this business, if you tell somebody you’re going to make it, you’re going to bottle it and you’re going to wait five years to get it, then you gain their respect.” CARSON TAYLOR PEERLESS DISTILLERY

age for years, so it is not possible to just

lesson they took from brewers. They also

Mr. Huber worked hard to pass legislation

ramp up current production to meet the

borrowed from the barbeque industry,

that ultimately changed those laws.

current demand.

smoking the grains for their Triple Smoke

Peerless Distillery of Louisville is

Of all the reasons why demand is so

Whiskey. By making unique products, not

drawing on history, as well. Father and

high right now, the most obvious and

just bourbon, Corsair has successfully

son team Corky and Carson Taylor are

most important factor is the quality. The

established themselves in Nashville, TN

reviving Corky’s great-grandfather Henry

bourbon made in the Kentucky region is

and Bowling Green, KY, areas that at

Kraver’s label, making their Golden Pond

excellent. This saturation of good whiskey

first glance would seem too saturated to

moonshine from an original moonshiner’s

could partially explain why so few craft

support another distillery.

recipe. Peerless was the largest distiller

distilleries are emerging, even though the

outside of Bardstown, KY in the 1800’s,

area is loaded with resources for distillers.

producing over 200 barrels a day. Louisville,

The Taylors don’t intend to become the

Andrew Webber of Corsair. “So to make

Kentucky, Starlight Distillery is having

largest again, they just want to produce

“We stand in the shadow of giants,” said

Thirty

minutes

outside

our way, we chose to try to be as different

similar success by filling niches other

spirits well. With the resources available

as possible. Instead of someone going

than bourbon. A branch of Huber’s

in Louisville and their family heritage,

and choosing either our bourbon or the

Orchard, Winery and Vineyards, Starlight

the Taylors believe they can produce

big guys’ bourbon, they would choose the

makes fruit-based spirits like brandies,

high quality bourbon deserving of the

big guys’ bourbon and our stuff because

ports and infusions, using fruit grown in

Peerless label. “In this business, if you

it’s two different things.”

their orchards and vineyards. Ted Huber

tell somebody you’re going to make it,

Corsair is one of the few distilleries in

says his family brought a long German

you’re going to bottle it and you’re going

the area making a variety of spirits, not

distilling history with them to Indiana in

to wait five years to get it, then you gain

just bourbon. “Everything that we do is

the 1700’s. The Huber’s were shut down

their respect.”

a fair bit different than the standard. A

from the start of Prohibition in 1920

Willett Distillery in Bardstown, KY,

lot of what we do is really highly flavored

until 1972, due to Indiana state laws that

is taking a very similar approach to

from the grain itself,” says Webber, a

banned small-scale alcohol production.

rebuilding a quality bourbon label that

28 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


“All the big distilleries are within 50 miles of here. So the industry itself and the support services are all here, too.” KEVIN HALL DISTILLED SPIRITS EPICENTER

“It’s just a breath of fresh air to be in a business that people want to help you.” CORKY TAYLOR PEERLESS DISTILLERY

started in the 1880’s. They are using

million people have taken the tour in

of the Louisville Downtown Partnership

original Willett mash bills and local

the past five years. A newer addition is

have worked to bring distilleries and

ingredients. “All of our corn comes from

the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour,

showrooms

within 20 miles of the distillery,” says

currently with eight stops, that include

in order to promote the industry and

Drew Kulsveen, and their water comes

distilleries like Corsair and Willett. Visitors

Louisville tourism. Howard says that

to

downtown

Louisville

from on-site springs. They use a Vendome

get a look at the craft side of the bourbon

while it’s not a trail, “It offers that type of

still from Louisville and their barrels come

industry, with distilleries like Limestone

tourism experience to people that might

from Independent Stave in Lebanon, KY,

Branch where they produce single barrel

be in Louisville and might not have time

showing that you do not have to go far to

batches of their cold-mash moonshine.

to go out into the rest of the state.” He points out distilling tourism is not just

get the best equipment in Kentucky.

beneficial to the industry, but to the The Urban Bourbon Trail in Louisville is

surrounding area, as well. “The impact

heavy

another relatively new trail. Stacey Yates

goes beyond just the bourbon. It’s really

saturation of the distilleries and their

of the Louisville Visitors Bureau says the

neighborhood revitalization in some of

suppliers in the region is unique, and

trail started in 2008 with eight stops, and

these areas.”

several tourism boards and development

they currently have 26 locations on the

Kevin Hall of the Distilled Spirits

districts have worked with the distilling

trail. “Basically the Urban Bourbon Trail

Epicenter in Louisville also acknowledges

industry to make the region a destination

is a pub crawl,” says Yates, explaining

Louisville’s centrality to the distilling

with interpretive centers, bourbon-related

that participating bars and restaurants

industry, saying that Louisville is, “kind of

events, and trails like the Kentucky

have to be open for a year and offer at

the epicenter of the distilling industry in

Bourbon Trail.

least 50 bourbons. Again, a passport

the US. All the big distilleries are within

system is used, and over 150,000 have

50 miles of here. So the industry itself

been issued so far.

and the support services are all here, too.”

The

close

proximity

and

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail takes tourists to seven distilleries around the state, with optional stops at other related venues. It is very popular, and over 2.5

and

The Distilled Spirits Epicenter features

economic developers like Ethan Howard

Moonshine University, Grease Monkey

Louisville

tourism

boards

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Distillery and Challenge Bottling. New and experienced craft distillers and enthusiasts can attend classes here, participate in hands-on distilling at the distillery and learn the bottling and packaging side, as well.

Many of the master distillers from the heritage distilleries share their knowledge at places like the Epicenter, and directly

a little of what we do.

with their peers. Shared knowledge was what elevated the Kentucky bourbon industry above other regions in the 1700’s, and the distilling industry still benefits from cooperation between distillers, today. “Everybody has been extremely nice,� said Carson Taylor of Peerless, noting that many of the distillers from the large distilleries have stopped in to talk with them and offer advice. “It’s completely different than any business we’ve been in,� says Carson’s father, Corky. “It’s just a breath of fresh air to be in a business that people want to help you - that are going to be your competitors. I don’t think things will change even though we are going to be competitors.� Craft distilling is slowly starting to gain a foothold in KY and the surrounding area. There is a long road ahead, but the industry continues to defy convention with its philosophy of cooperation and comradely.

d Winning Awa r o t 1855 ork ince S u p p ly i n g C s s ller d i st i

Ĺ­KFMJOFLDPN 30†WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


WILLETT

DISTILLING COMPANY WRITTEN BY STEVEN SEIM

///

PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN

y

ou may have never heard of the Willett Distillery, but was a still-sized hole in the families’ heart. That changed when they have been around for decades. Founded in 1937 by Even’s son Drew, daughter Britt, and son-in-law Hunter joined

Thompson Willett, the Willett Distilling Company operated until the company. Since 2004 they have worked together to restore the early 1980s, when it was shut down to become a fuel ethanol the family distillery. plant. That business endured only 2 years, and in 1984 Even

The question remains: why shift from a company who bought

Kulsveen (Son-in-law of Thompson) bought the property, the bourbon by the barrel, to making their own product? Drew says company, and formed Kentucky Bourbon Distillers. The original the industry has changed drastically in the last ten years, and distillery had been dismantled, so Even’s main business focused that model of business isn’t feasible anymore. “Call around and on aging and bottling spirits produced by other distilleries under try to buy a barrel of Kentucky bourbon, any age. I don’t care how several different brand names. While they remained open, there much money you have. You’re not getting it.” Any company able

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 31


to produce isn’t selling by the barrel, but by the bottle. Why not produce it yourself when demand has grown exponentially since the craft boom of the last few years? How has the market changed since Drew joined the company? In his father’s time, international sales made up 80% of their business. Currently that number is 20%. We asked Drew why their market has shifted back to the United States, and his answer surprised us: “You hear people talk about new and emerging markets like China and India -- which, they are -- but the bigger market is women. How many women have you seen gravitate towards Bourbon [compared to] ten years ago? They’re the driving force, I believe.” He also notices a difference in buying habit, even for the people who have enjoyed bourbon their whole lives: “Whereas 10 years ago, you would buy a bottle, love it, go back to the store when you’re done with it and get another one. [Now] anytime anything good comes out, it immediately spreads on the internet like wildfire, and people don’t buy a bottle -- they buy everything a store has.” Bartenders also help grow the industry (which Drew thinks can never get too saturated, even in Kentucky). With the proliferation of information available on the internet and in various publications, he thinks bartenders spread interest and demand in all liquors as ingredients in classic and contemporary cocktails. As for the bourbon they are making themselves, the creators at Willett have focused on pouring their personal energy into their whiskeys and prefer a hands-on approach with the spirits they are creating. Their setup caters to their preference of simplicity over automation. When we mentioned how cleanly their distillery is laid out, Drew responded “You’ve got to keep it simple.” In fact, they designed their entire distillery themselves saying, “We didn’t have any architects or engineers get involved. No one knows what we want more than we do.” Instead of leaning on automation for consistency between batches, the flavor is in the hands of the 3 employees making it: “Even though the recipes are followed, we do have tight and stringent guidelines; we are the ultimate ones controlling the flavor.” The result is a dictated profile, rather than a computer’s exact flavor. Willet is working on producing seven mash bills. Four mash bills remain from the original distillery -- three bourbons and one rye. Drew has since developed three mash bills of his own. Drew and his family have found a balance using local resources when they can, but never skimping on what’s right for their bourbon. All of their corn is bought from farms within 20 miles of their 120 acres, and the water they use is from a spring-fed lake they can see out the window, as well as various springs around their property. When they needed yeast, (the

32 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 33


original batch of which was

the Willett name isn’t household

thrown out by a maid during

yet, but they already sell every

“spring cleaning”), they found

drop they bottle because of their

the supplier they wanted in

reputation among distributers and

France. Even and the family will

industry insiders. Drew believes

go anywhere to get just what they

that will continue with what they

need. They also give back when

distill themselves: “You can put a

they can by selling their slop

95 rating on something and tell

to local farmers as animal feed

people about it, but if it’s really

and by selling their used barrels

that good, people are already

to

whiskey

talking about it, and they’re

distillers, and occasionally to

telling their friends ‘you need to

patrons in their gift shop.

go try this.’” Drew and the rest of

breweries,

Willet’s

Irish

been

the family at Willet don’t want the

relatively unknown by the public

name

kind of recognition they can get

over the last 20 years, but that

with a wallet or words alone. It is

doesn’t bother Drew. He thinks

their product that will hopefully

worrying

sing to you.

about

has

awards

and

recognition is silly for a distiller, and that the public’s interest will speak for itself. They don’t do a lot of advertising and he knows

Willett Distilling Company is located in Bardstown, KY. For more info visit www.kentuckybourbonwhiskey.com or call (502) 348-0081.

34 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


S

A E TR H T ROM F S IE TOR

IL..

.

KENTUCKY

BOURBON

T R A I L S WRITTEN BY CHRIS LOZIER

///

PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN

k

entucky distillers produce more than 95% of the world’s the opportunity to eat regional foods, visit racehorse stables, bourbon. In fact there are more aging bourbon barrels tour and stay in historic hotels, and meet the people that make

in the state than people. The region has become a destination bourbon country so friendly. At least three days are recommended for bourbon lovers who want to experience bourbon country to really experience the distilleries and the Kentucky culture firsthand. Seeing the opportunity to develop the industry into because there is so much to see. a tourist mecca, the Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA) and

Visitors get the full experience and come away with a much

local tourism and economic development districts have worked greater understanding of the bourbon industry after touring with distilleries and industry-related businesses to create not the distilleries. The trail has been very popular, with over 2.5 one, but three bourbon-related trails.

million participants in the last 5 years. This economic stimulus

In 1999, the KDA started the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, America’s is good not only for the distilleries, but also for the communities original distilling trail. The trail features seven participating surrounding them and the trail has become one of the state’s distilleries around the state that people can visit and tour. These largest tourist attractions. are the largest distilleries in the industry, including heritage

In addition to the original trail, the KDA has launched the

brands like Evan Williams, Four Roses, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, currently featuring eight craft Town Branch, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve. Visitors get distilleries with the newest, Wilderness Trace Distillery, joining a passport that they have stamped at each of the distilleries, the list as recently as December 7th 2013. Visitors get a chance and when they complete the passport they receive a Kentucky to see Kentucky bourbon made on a more intimate scale, like Bourbon Trail shirt.

at Limestone Branch where they only make single barrel runs.

Patrons can drive the trail, cycle the bike route or hire one of The variety of spirits increases on the craft trail, as well, and the tour guide services. Along with the distilleries, the trail offers many of the distilleries are finding a niche for products besides

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 35


STO

S RIE

RAI T E M TH FRO

L... Stacey Yates of the Louisville Visitor’s Bureau says they were trying to attract tourists to use Louisville as a starting point for the bourbon

bourbon. But it is, after

trails

all, a bourbon trail and

them to tour the trails by

the bourbon on the craft

day and return to the city

trail is top shelf, with

for the nightlife and food.

some

using

Then they realized that

mash bills and recipes

they had so many bars

that have just as much

and restaurants serving

history as those of the

a wide array of bourbons

heritage brands on the

that they really had their

original trail.

own trail.

distilleries

by

encouraging

craft

“If you’re in Chicago or

family

New York or San Francisco

run, and visitors often get

and you have 20 bourbons

to meet the people that

on your bar, you’re calling

produce the spirits and

yourself a bourbon bar,

run the show. Visitors also

or some kind of whiskey

get the chance to walk

bar. It’s a pretty serious

through an entire distilling

investment,” said Yates.

operation, gaining a better

“Well, in Kentucky, our

perspective

pizza

Many

of

distilleries

the are

on

how

a

distillery works.

joints

have

20

bourbons,” demonstrating

After collecting all seven stamps in the craft tour passport, how bourbon-centric Kentucky culture is. She said they spoke the reward is a Kentucky julep cup with the craft tour’s engraved with a couple different bars in Louisville that served over 160 emblem. Between the Bourbon Trail and the Craft Tour, bourbons and encouraged several others to increase their count visitors gain a impressive knowledge and a deep appreciation to 50 bourbons, which birthed the Urban Bourbon Trail in 2008. for the Kentucky area, the historic distilleries, the friendly,

The Urban Bourbon Trail started with eight stops and now they

knowledgeable people that make it possible, and of course, the have 26. In order to be an official stop on the Urban Bourbon bourbon itself.

Trail, businesses must be locally grown (not a chain), open for

36 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


STO at least a year and serve at least 50 different bourbons. They use a passport system just like the other two

RIE

S FR OM T HE T RAI L...

trails. Akin to Kentucky horse racing they use the term “Pick 6,” where visitors get a shirt after receiving six stamps in their passports. Yates says the Urban Bourbon Trail is really a compliment to the other trails, because visitors can see the distilleries where the bourbon is made during the daytime tastings, and then they can return to Louisville and buy cocktails with the day’s favorites at night. So far they have distributed over 150,000 passports, and they are playing a significant role in promoting the bourbon industry and downtown Louisville. Louisville is continuing to take great steps promoting the bourbon tourism industry, in part because of the success of the trails and the realization that the industry is a major tourist attraction. Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. of visiting a district,” something visitors can experience if they Bardstown just finished a new multi-million dollar visitor’s center don’t have the time for the full-fledged bourbon trails. in downtown Louisville, and Louisville-based distilling magnate

Like the trails, the downtown Louisville revitalization is a great

Brown-Forman recently spent millions to preserve historic example of cooperation between competitors to promote not only their own brands, but also the industry and the region as a whiskey row from demolition. Ethan Howard of the Louisville Downtown Partnership says

whole, something Kentucky distillers have always succeeded in

distilleries are making major investments, with “five that have a doing. new presence announced for downtown.” Howard explains, “the

For more information on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour visit www.kybourbontrail.com or call revitalization in some of these areas.” Howard said the goal is (502) 875-9351. For more info on the Urban Bourbon Trail visit to create a concentrated experience for tourists. “It’s like they’re www.bourboncountry.com or call (502) 875-9351. impact goes beyond just the bourbon. It’s really neighborhood

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 www.phoenixpackaging.com Attila M. Joo  Manager of Sales and Business Development Mobile: 514-234-1503  Email: attila@phoenixpackaging.com

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 37


CORSAIR ARTISAN DISTILLERY WRITTEN BY AMBER G. CHRISTENSEN-SMITH

///

PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN

38 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


SHE BLINDED ME WITH SCIENCE There is sound and rhythm whirring from machines all around

instead of hauling barrels of fry oil. Their luck continued in that they were not tied to tradition when

in the brick building, originally built in 1881. The whooshing they ventured into craft distilling. Their distilling education did of liquid from pipe to pipe and the hiss of tubing makes the not take place until after they took the leap of faith to begin and location, in its entirety, alive and breathing with spirits. In the they did not have a family recipe to start with. Andrew feels this center of it all, an amazing copper robot looms over the distilling gave them the “liberty to do odd stuff,” giving them a thumbs up room. This copper monster, with its voluptuous curves and on creativity. He chuckles, “Being dumb helps.” There is no lack protruding pipes, is the beautiful still at Corsair—the Bride of of intelligence here, however. Frankenstein to the doctors of these concoctions. The magic of her is not in her age (she was born in 1920 and is a gorgeously

HYPERACTIVE

restored still), but in her uniqueness. And then there’s Andrew Andrew’s energy for his business is apparent as he tours his Webber—the head distiller of Corsair Distillery, a mad-scientist guests around the facility. Much like the whirring and stirring of a man with his wicked concoctions and bizarre ideas. He fits of machines, Andrew is alive and filled with passion in this into this place like a pea in a pod, which is a good thing, because place. His knowledge of the trade, even for not growing up in he co-owns this animal. His speech is energetic and enthused for the industry, is amazing. He’s fond of throwing things together in

the world of craft distilling—something that he ventured into by what he calls “whatcha-got-stew.” “I don’t like to go shopping,” pure accident. he admits, which accounts for much of the variety in the spirits

BEAUTY OF A DREAM

they create at Corsair. They often make one-time-only batches and then move on because they enjoy the ability to continue with

Old high school friends, Andrew and co-owner Darek Bell, had experimentation. a dream to start a business together, but it wasn’t to distill.

And the magic of that copper still that operates like the heart

Initially, they saw a need to create a biodiesel company of all of their operation? They had to surgically modify the 25-foot things. Then, on one particularly frustrating day after Andrew beauty to get her in the building, which actually helped heighten had collapsed to the floor in the boiling Kentucky weather, the flavor of their spirits. Andrew and Darek quickly learned that stinking of fry oil, he looked at Darek and said, “You know, if that revising the still intensified the flavors of the batch, and this were full of whiskey instead of car fuel I’d be a happier man.” makes for an incredibly unique distilling experience fitting with Little did Andrew know, the comment stuck in Darek’s brain, and Andrew’s end game of big flavor. two weeks later he announced they would be distilling whiskey

In addition to the noteworthy hearty taste Andrew is able to

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 39


achieve due to the modifications on the still, he is also quite He reveals there is a “tradition in food culture that has never knowledgeable in barrel science 101, something a mad scientist penetrated whiskey culture.” Andrew began to experiment with is in need of for this business. He explains how barrel size, smoked grains and quickly realized that indeed the flavors infused flavor, and structure account for many of the eclectic intermingle well. This blending of smoke flavors, Andrew has variables to his recipes. The barrel acts as a kind of “tea infuser” found, added much complexity to the profile of spirits—from as it ages the spirit, he explains. The flavor from the barrel infuses sweet and orangey to spicy and bitter. There is “such a range of into the liquid, creating another layer of complexity for the spirit. flavor to fool around with” he added. The size of the barrel affects anything from the amount of this

But Andrew knows American Distillation has been conservative.

flavor infused to the oxidation process. In addition the structure, He knows they stand in the shadows of giants when distilling like using a honeycomb-structured barrel, can help age the spirit items like whiskey and bourbon. There is a level of respect for more aggressively.

these icons in the industry and an understanding of what the expected outcome of a batch should be. However, Andrew knows

MY BRAIN IS LIKE A SIEVE

there is no way they could compete without being different. He

You can hear a train rumble by as the tour heads outside to understands the most successful craft distillers are differentiated peek at the smokers. Andrew pauses—he knows how many in some way; they have to have some unusual ideas to land on train whistles will blow before he can continue enthusiastically the shelf. speaking about his spirits, jumping in after the last horn blows from the engine.

P U L P C U LT U R E

Andrew is fascinated by the American BBQ culture and our Corsair’s creativity and uniqueness does not end at their obsession with infusing flavor on the grill with a variety of woods. quirky batch experimentations and fondness of smoked grains. His curiosity brought him to the thought of infusing this same The creativity is even apparent in their marketing. When first smoked flavor into his creations. He felt America was missing researching what label would work for their creations, they out on combining that smoked flavor with spirits and it didn’t trekked to local stores to see what was out there. Andrew says make sense to him why it hadn’t occurred in the industry yet. they saw “a sea of brown,” with many brands trying to look as old

40 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


QUALITY

GLASSWARE from an american manufacturer

and traditional as possible. That wasn’t their angle, though; they have already proven they are not ones to play on tradition. They wanted to market to a younger generation of spirit drinkers, lively patrons out on the town and having fun. Andrew and Darek hired twelve graphic designers, but no one got it right at first. That’s when Andrew threw out the idea to his friend in the comic book and video game design field. “He had it done in one night.” Andrew loves the modern idea of their label and jested that it is like a personality test. “Some people see Blues Brothers, some people see Oceans 11, some people see Rat Pack, [some people] see Reservoir Dogs.” This distinction in labeling stands out for them, and brings the crowd in they were hoping for. Having the bravery to be unique and the passion to experiment have really set Corsair and its owners apart. They are known for their quirkiness in creating, but it’s superbly successful for them.

Distributed by

Andrew and Darek understand to make it in this industry, craft distillers have to pull out a wild card sometimes and experiment. They have to be peculiar in one instant, and adaptable in the next. Corsair has done well for themselves by truly concocting “Booze for Badasses.”

Corsair Artisan Distillery has distilleries in Nashville, TN and Bowling Green, KY. For more info visit www.corsairartisan.com or call (206) 216-2803.

( 888 ) 997- 2252 info@thepackgroup.com

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 41


THE

FUTURE FLAVOR OF

WRITTEN BY ROCKWELL RUTTER

W

hen Dave Dafoe founded Flavorman, one of the nation’s premier beverage

development companies, he never could have imagined what it one day would become. In addition to formulating new and creative beverages for some of the world’s biggest brands, they’ve begun working intimately with the craft distilling industry. Now the branded house of Flavorman has become a house of brands itself — complete with their own distillery, Greasemonkey Distilling, as well as

PHOTO PROVIDED BY FLAVORMAN

42 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


PHOTOS BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN

their education division known as Moonshine University.

Flavorman caters to all players in the beverage world, from

Prior to starting Flavorman, Dafoe was a shining star at

the startup entrepreneurs with dreams of taking on the big guys,

Fries & Fries, a flavor company based in Cincinnati, and was

to the big guys themselves. In both cases, their highly trained

later recruited by Brown-Forman Beverages. Despite having

staff takes their job very seriously. In fact, their laboratory is so

no previous beverage experience, Dafoe blew Fries & Fries

secure they politely asked Artisan Spirit to refrain from taking

away when they asked him to do blind flavor analysis during

pictures of products in development.

his initial interview using only clear liquids. When Dafoe was

Flavorman sets themselves apart from other formulation

able to isolate wild flavors like pork chops with a single sip,

companies in a number of ways, but perhaps most of all is their

they hired him on the spot. It wasn’t long, however, before the

turnaround time. When a new client meets with Flavorman

entrepreneurial bug began to bite. And once it did, Dafoe left

and wants to develop a new beverage — be it a juice, soda,

the secure arms of Brown-Forman to follow his dream.

alcohol, or what have you, the staff commits to a 10 business

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 43


day response time. That means that within just a couple weeks they come back to the client with actual samples of the proposed beverage. Flavorman will also assist clients in working with bottle or can manufacturers, and will even conduct shelf life studies. In light of the craft alcohol industry’s meteoric rise over the past several years, Flavorman is expanding their services in creative ways. For example, many craft distilleries begin operations by selling vodka, gin and white whiskey while their future products age in barrels, sometimes for years. This can mean lean times for a distiller. Flavorman helps out by offering flavoring techniques to enhance what would normally be considered a “vanilla” product. While some distilling purists might look down on this practice, it’s a valuable service for many that can mean the difference between staying profitable and going broke. Flavorman is located in Louisville, KY, the city which many would consider the home of distilling in America. Since their headquarters is 50 miles at most from many of the nation’s largest distilleries, they’ve learned to capitalize on this proximity by bringing in some of the most highly skilled professional distillers to their education division, Moonshine University. Their one-day and five-day workshops bring people from all over the Saxco AS 2:Layout 1 5/7/13 5:26 PM Page 1

world who want to learn the art of craft distilling, and when they see Master Distillers from companies like Jim Beam, it’s akin to meeting their heroes. Even the best week-long workshop in the world won’t be

Stock Inventory Custom Design Decorating Capsules Closures Corks

enough to teach a distilling hopeful everything they need to know to open up their own shop, but Moonshine University embraces this. Their goal is to teach students more about “what they don’t know,” as it gives them the framework to continually learn long after the workshop ends. Students are even given a full binder of course materials, key contacts and other knowledge they can refer to down the line. The venerated Kentucky Distillers

eMail: spirits@saxco.com

Association was so impressed with what Moonshine University

Call Jimmy at 502-326-8451 or Chad at 502-326-8452

has done that they made them the exclusive education provider of the entire organization. When distilleries like Jack Daniels and Jim Beam are standing behind Moonshine University’s quality

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.

education, you can be sure it’ll be worth every penny. Dave Dafoe and the rest of the Flavorman team are masters of finding opportunities in unexpected places. By growing their company from a startup beverage producer into a leading player in the craft distilling support world, they’ve shown they have what it takes to keep this industry moving forward.

Flavorman and Moonshine University are located in Louisville, KY. Visit www.flavorman.com or www.moonshineuniversity.com for more information.

44 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


Limestone Branch Distillery:

Extending the Beam Family Legacy Written by Allison Atkins

I

Photography by Amanda Joy Christensen

n the heart of Bourbon Country lies Limestone Branch, a Joseph Washington Dant, a great-great grandfather on their new micro-distillery that was opened a year and a half ago mother’s side, who started distilling sour mash whiskey in 1836

by brothers Steve and Paul Beam. Quality, authenticity, and

Because of their heritage, cold mash is understandably the

patience are just some of the values these brothers put into their brothers’ specialty. Paul and Steve use only natural ingredients whiskey and moonshine, primarily because they have a legacy to in their mash: 100 pounds of corn meal, 100 pounds of sugar, uphold.

water and yeast. You can taste the corn and malted barley in

Many are familiar with the Beam family--as in Jim Beam-- the whiskey. It is very smooth and easy to drink. The difference but there is much to be said about the lesser-know Beams of between cold mash versus the standard cooking fermentation Lebanon, Kentucky. Steve and Paul are preceded by seven is that cold mash has a lighter body and not as much grain generations of whiskey producers. On their father’s side, the flavor comes through. It mirrors rum in some ways but cannot be brothers descend from Jacob Boehm who later changed his labeled as such because of the corn that is present. The corn is name to Beam and sold his first barrel of whiskey in 1795. The used as a nutritional source for the yeast, and it is interesting to proverbial Claremont Beams came from another line of Beams note that since the corn is not cooked, it can be reused for up to also descendents of Joseph. Jim Beam was cousin to Paul and four different fermentation cycles. Steve’s great grandfather Minor Case, who distilled sour mash

Along with the white corn whiskey, Limestone Branch

and rye whiskeys. The brothers also come from the distiller also produces apple pie, blackberry, cherry, and strawberry

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moonshine. All of their ‘shines are made using real fruits, which and sell moonshine and was brushed off by the big guys. He makes the taste stand out so much more. When asked why they started working with Steve and Paul in hopes to build a personal use real fruit versus flavoring, which is considerably cheaper, relationship. It was important to Tim to build a relationship with Steve answered “We’re all about being authentic. We aren’t in a producer and create something from the ground up. a speed race.” Part of this patience and concern of authenticity goes back to their roots.

With so much family history in distilling, it’s easy to see how their whiskey is their passion and even their legacy. Steve recalls,

The moonshine on its own is described as light and fresh, and “When I was designing the space I knew I would be back here you can taste notes of oak as it is aged in used bourbon barrels. like my entire life. I wanted it to be an environment I would want It is considered a stand-alone product and is not a pre-cursor to work in.” Limestone Branch has a great open floor plan with for whiskey or bourbon like other white whiskeys. White whiskey, some of the best natural light ever seen in a distillery. Not only or “white dog,” is commonly used synonymously with the term is the place an aesthetically appealing environment to work in, moonshine. But Steve maintains that the difference between but it is also very welcoming to visitors as well. Paul is happy to their moonshine and the customary white dog is the fact that give people tours of their distillery saying, “It’s like when they white dog is generally heralded into a different spirit whereas the come in here, they’re my friend.” According to Paul, the Beams brothers’ moonshine is distilled as their end product.

“talk a lot” and that comes across in their willingness to share

The Beam Brothers have been working with a number of their craft with people. Lots of laughs were shared over tastings other individuals and companies to produce other brands and it is evident that Steve and Paul really enjoy what they do, of spirits. This contracting allows them to raise capital and and that passion is revealed in the quality and integrity of their expand operations at a much faster rate. Specifically, Paul and products. Steve have been working with Climax Moonshine, produced by Tim Smith who is well known from the Discovery Channel’s Limestone Branch Distillery is located in Lebanon, KY. For more info TV series “Moonshiners.” Tim spent 14 years trying to brand visit www.limestonebranch.com or call (270) 699-9004.

46 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


VENDOME COPPER & BRASSWORKS WRITTEN BY CHRIS LOZIER /// PHOTOGRAPHS BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 47


i

n the early 1900’s, a coppersmith firm deemed it wise to

them,” said Mike Sherman, a great-grandson of Vendome’s

close their doors in Louisville, Kentucky, one of the busiest

founder. While the larger companies needed larger equipment

distilling towns in the world. Fortunately, their bookkeeper, W.

and more of it, the consolidation ultimately meant fewer stills

Elmore Sherman, saw things differently and he purchased the

were being manufactured and serviced for the numerous smaller

business and coined it Vendome. Sherman’s company quickly

distilleries.

became known as one of the world’s premier still manufacturers, a reputation they continue to build on today.

Vendome adapted again and started producing equipment for the food, dairy, confectionary, pharmaceutical, and chemical

With all of the distilleries operating in and around Louisville in

industries. Today, about 30% of their business is for industries

the early 1900s, Vendome flourished as not only a local resource

other than potable alcohol. They are leaders in the design and

but also a high-quality manufacturer and service company. They

manufacture of FDA-approved sanitary equipment, and they can

could provide all of the copper stills and brass and copper

build solutions to meet almost any need their customers have.

equipment the distillers needed, and they could repair it if

In the 1950’s they added stainless steel to their materials list,

there was a problem. They were able to expand into the beer

which opened the door to many more projects. Today they have

industry, as well, making brew kettles and serving a much larger

the capability to build equipment with copper, brass, nickel,

customer base. Vendome was the standard of quality in the beer

stainless steel and a number of specialty alloys to suit a diverse

and spirits industries.

array of industries and needs.

However, when Prohibition hit, Sherman had to diversify.

Distilling is still their bread and butter, though, and they can

Vendome started fabricating boilers and producing vessels and

design and manufacture stills and equipment to fit any distillery’s

processing equipment for other industries. Sherman continued

specifications. “I guarantee we’ve got more copper welders

to do a small amount of business with the few distilleries that

than anybody in the U.S.,” says Rob Sherman, another great-

remained open to produce medicinal alcohol, and he spent some

grandson of Vendome’s founder. “We’ve got about 70 people in

time in Canada helping to build a distillery there.

the shop,” Rob explains, and he feels they are excellent at what

When Prohibition was repealed, Vendome was again able to

they do.

focus on the brewing and distilling industries. Soon, however,

Rob and Mike say that business has been booming lately, and

the American distilling industry saw a lot of consolidation.

the Vendome crew is getting better all the time. “Instead of

“Bigger companies were buying up the smaller ones and closing

building one or two pot stills a year,” explains Rob, “they’re

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building 15 or 20.” Mike said much of their current work has

in a hurry. He says that most start-ups typically take a year to

been for the large distilleries. “The big distilleries have done

start production and that “most of the time we get done with the

a lot of major expansion over the last few years,” added Mike,

still, and for six or seven months they’re not ready for them.”

explaining that their local bourbon industry has seen exponential

Vendome is ready to work with any distillery in the design

growth and Vendome has been the provider for many of them.

and manufacture of their still and equipment, and it starts with

He went on to say that craft distillers are “a very big part of our

helping the distillers choose what suits them best. “A lot of

business right now, and probably a bigger part of our business

people call in and in the first week they know exactly what they

than we ever thought would happen.”

need,” said Rob. “Some of them, its two months down the road

It’s difficult to convey the impressive scope of Vendome’s

before they really figure out what they need.”

workshop in words or images. The size is not the impressive part

The average still they are building for craft distillers is around

-- it’s the equipment, materials, and enthusiastic technicians

750 gallons, but they are building some much smaller and some

working on the ground floor that leave you with a lasting

in the 2000-2500 gallon range, as well. Vendome produces a

impression. At any one time their warehouse holds over 100,000

wide variety of still styles and designs, but Rob says many of

pounds of German copper and everywhere you look there is

the distilleries want a showpiece. “The cool thing is everybody’s

a partially constructed still, tank, or industrial component

trying to stick to the original shapes and sizes and designs that

of massive proportions. As we tour the facility Rob Sherman

are 200 years old. Some people, the older it looks, that’s what

points out pieces of equipment and lists off the product it will

they want, the old historic look.” He said many of their stills are

become, the buyer it belongs to, and when it will be completed.

designed to be part of the marketing plan, and that many of the

When asked where they keep track of all this information he

moonshine distilleries want stills that “look old, like they came

silently points to his own head. That level of intimate knowledge

out of the woods.”

is shared by Rob, Mike, and their siblings, Barbara Hubbuch

Mike says that incorporating the still into the marketing is a

and Susannah Sherman—a wonderful trait that ensures their

good idea, because one of the most important things a distiller

attention to detail in the craft.

has to do is market their product. “I think that people need

Vendome is currently backlogged about 6 months on

to have a good business plan and understand that you’ve got

production, but Rob says that’s typically not a problem as they

to have a market. You’ve got to be able to market and sell it

can usually move an order up if a customer needs the equipment

and have a story behind it. I’ve seen a lot of good products

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out there that come up short on

Rob and Mike say they like what

the marketing and they go under.

they are doing. “None of us were

You can make a good product but

forced or pushed to go into the

if you don’t know how to market it

business,” tells Mike. “We worked

and sell it and get it to distributors

some summers during high school,

and get your name out there then

did odd jobs, then came on later on

it doesn’t matter how good your

and just kind of fell in love with it.

product is, it’s not going to make

If any of us would have decided to

it.” Rob agrees, saying, “I always

go somewhere else, it would have

tell them distilling is the easiest

been no big deal.” Fortunately for

part. Marketing is the hardest.”

the distilling industry, Rob, Mike,

Thankfully, the Vendome crew

Barbara, and Susannah liked the

has done this a time or two, and

family business, and as the fourth

they are happy to help distillers understand what to expect

generation of Sherman’s at Vendome, they are very good at what

and how to succeed. They are like the majority of the distilling

they do.

industry in that they want to see people do well, not only because it is good for their business but because it is good for the industry.

DSTILL_winterissue.pdf

1

11/14/13

Vendome Copper & Brassworks is located in Louisville, KY. For more info visit www.vendomecopper.com or call (888) 384-5161.

10:44 AM

C

M

Y

CM

MY

THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 2014

CY

CMY

K

A SERIOUS CELEBRATION OF AMERICAN

CRAFT SPIRITS & COCKTAILS

Distiller Registration & Ticket Information w w w. d s t i l l . c o

50 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


Starlight, Starbright written by Amber G. Christensen-Smith 

photography by Amanda Joy Christensen

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” These words were articulated to Ted Huber, co-owner of Huber Orchard, Winery, and Vineyards, by someone he looked up to his entire life — his grandmother. Whenever Huber had an idea for wine, the vineyard — or even to start a distillery — he always first asked his grandmother her thoughts. This was a woman who had seen everything and whom he trusted with his ideas. She had watched from humble beginnings the transformation of a stunning piece of land, from running the farm with horses to the evolution of using modern day equipment. Looking out over the nearly six hundred acre spread of the Starlight Orchard and Vineyard, it’s hard to believe a doubt has ever entered the mind of this craftsman. Ted, along with his cousin Greg Huber, own and manage the prodigious Huber Orchard, Winery, and Vineyards — Indiana’s Second Largest tourist attraction (second only to the Indianapolis Speedway). The astonishing legacy of this alluring place comes from modest upbringing and boundless creativity and passion infused in all the Hubers.

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a

century’s

old

legacy

Simon Huber, Ted’s great great grandfather, left BadenBaden, Germany with a knowledge of growing produce, making wine, and distilling spirits. The then modest 1843 Huber farm of only 80 acres was immediately planted with apples and grapes, something Simon knew all too well about and could find success in. The ownership of the farm has been earned and paid for by each new generation, from Huber to Huber. Also, by imparting the knowledge they had about vineyards and orchards, the family has been able to grow their little piece of Indiana Heaven over time. The Huber’s success undoubtedly comes from their old world knowledge and values as well as their ability to diversify and see such diversity as a way to grow as times change. They have used this ability to branch out in order to survive prohibition in the 1930s when they converted a portion of their world to a dairy farm (the barn is now the main tasting room), and bringing back winemaking in the 1970s after being outlawed for so long. In the ‘70s, the Hubers even saw a need to bring back vines from the old world (most American farms converted to Concord grapes in the late 1800’s due to a grape blight) and Ted’s uncle Carl ventured back to Germany to learn about commercial vines for winemaking.

in

the

spirit

of

it

all

Ted’s initial experience with distilling came as a young man. As teenagers, the young men were responsible for cleaning out the cider mill after the holidays. “First thing I ever made when I was fifteen was applejack.” His grandmother had told

52 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 52 


him stories of bootleggers in the Knob area near his home, encouraging his curiosity. Ted laughs, “a little yeast fell into it [the cider that we pressed out]” and they distilled it making their first liquor. “It didn’t take long to figure it out when you get to the nuts and bolts of it.” After growing up on the farm and learning the trade, Ted’s curiosity was sparked yet again. In the late 1990s Ted heard the call to create spirits in a state that opposed liquor production. Huber’s journey became a very political one due to this opposition. He found himself not only learning the distillation trade — as much of the knowledge was lost from his ancestors — but also lobbying politicians to bring to light a bill that would legalize spirit making. The idea of distillation took time and many baby steps before it was generally accepted as a good idea for Indiana. “In 1998,” Huber explains, “we were able to take our wine license from fourteen percent alcohol cap to twenty-four so we could do traditional infusions — ports, and those types of products.” This small nudge forward brought forth more openings for change in the liquor industry of Indiana. By 2001, after researching distilling and the production needs in relation to his farm, as well as lobbying politicians, Ted Huber helped pass a successful bill in Indiana — “The Brandy Bill.” This birthed today’s Starlight Distillery.

uniquely

homegrown

Huber’s diligence has brought a dream to fruition for him— from having a state that outlawed distilleries, to now allowing distilleries that even have tastings (except on Sundays). One

 53 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 53


of the most unique

bourbon, or rye — in

aspects

Starlight

two

however,

Distillery is proud to be

ingredients.

called a “craft guys”

All ingredients used

distillery in their trade

to make the liquor

and love having the

are found in house.

“do-it-yourself” ability

There is no rebottling,

with

making the production

and production onsite.

line

Their

of

Distillery, is

its

truly

production.

a Ted

craft is

years.

all

Starlight

ingredients hardworking,

down-to-earth,

and

proud to share where

friendly

the ingredients come

has blossomed their

from

success and only added

spirits.

for

Starlight’s

“Here’s

mentality

the

to the rich history that

apples--they come from

has a century’s worth

that side of the farm”

of stories, with more

he’s happy to say when

stories to come. Ted

someone expresses their fondness of their Applejack Brandy, not Huber could surely tell his fantastic grandmother now, “Yes, I to mention their other infusions, ports, brandies, and grappas. know what I’m doing,” with a modest grin. Huber’s work is not done, though. The distillery is popular, but they are working to bring vodka and gin on the market next Starlight Distillery is located in Starlight, IN. For more info visit year, and hope to have a brown spirit on the market — a whiskey, www.huberwinery.com or call (812) 923-9463.

54 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


PEERLESS R E V I VA L the

written by Steven Seim /// photographs by Amanda Joy Christensen

t

heirs is a family history that has aged in the charred barrel of was afraid to give helpful advice. Even starting from scratch, as the liquor business. Corky Taylor described to us the history Peerless did, he found information plentiful which fostered their

of his family and its Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company, desire to prove themselves among their peers, and validate the originally run by Corky’s great-grandfather. He and his son, legacy they were trying to restore. Despite warnings from others Carson, are reviving the distillery that was closed in 1919, and that not all distillers succeed, Corky and Carson are ready to put they’re doing so under the same name.

their product out there against any other, and they’re taking the

Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company ran from the late quality of their bourbon personally. “If it’s good it’s our fault, if nineteenth century until 1919 under Henry Kraver, a prolific it’s bad it’s our fault,” Carson told us. Instead of buying barrels of businessman who owned banks, hotels, a brewery, and movie bourbon that someone else has made, they are excited to make theaters in addition to the distillery. At its peak, Peerless was it themselves and earn the respect that comes from doing it all filling 200 barrels a day. When Prohibition passed the distillery from scratch. managed to stay in business by selling their existing stock under

To get them started, Peerless brought in an experienced

a medicinal license. Henderson, Kentucky, where the original distiller to help with the floor layout, and train them to operate distillery was based, was a weekend getaway for mobsters like Al their 26’ copper still crafted by Vendome. As much as they can, Capone and others. Henry Kraver fit in so well that he ended up they have bought locally, like their grain and their still. They plan buying the famous Palmer House in Chicago.

on taking advantage of current technologies whenever possible

As a small distillery beginning their careers among Louisville’s to ensure that every bottle has the quality that their customer biggest producers, it would be understandable if Corky and Carson will expect. Their goal is a reliable, consistent bourbon that will were wary of their massive counterparts. On the contrary, they are be the same years from now, from barrel to barrel. Corky said his eager to share how welcoming the distilling industry has been goals include this distillery being family owned for generations of their family’s efforts. Whenever advice is needed regarding to come. layout or ingredients, they say they can ask almost anyone and

Kentucky Peerless will introduce themselves to the market

find a helping hand. When Corky retired from his career in the with two bourbons. Their first, Kentucky Peerless Bourbon will field of finance, he did not expect to discover an industry where be aged a minimum of four years. Corky says that number isn’t everyone loved their job, competition was friendly, and no one written in stone yet. If the bourbon isn’t ready after four, they’ll

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age it as long as necessary. Their premium bourbon, aged seven to eight years, will be called Henry Kraver, in honor of Corky’s great-grandfather. While their bourbon ages, Kentucky Peerless will produce and sell moonshine. Corky spent his college years near Golden Pond, a place in Kentucky famous for selling moonshine during Prohibition. He procured an authentic moonshine recipe from a ninety-year-old legacy moonshiner (which took some convincing), so he knows his moonshine will legitimately represent a traditional product. If you’re lucky enough to be close to Louisville, a trip to the future site of the Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company is highly recommended. Their walls will be covered in the family history that makes the “Peerless” name, from Henry Kraver to Corky’s son, Carson. Among the pictures on the wall and relics from the days of Prohibition, an old still used by producers of moonshine in Golden Pond will be on display. Corky’s goal is to be selling moonshine by September of 2014. We at Artisan Spirit hope to get the chance to revisit Louisville next year and share their progress.

Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. is located in Louisville, KY. Visit their website at www.kentuckypeerless.com for more information.

56 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


h

ome distillation, although illegal, has seen a rather

the

substantial increase in popularity over the past few

years. Shows like “Moonshiners” have put a spotlight on the hobby and generated more interest than ever

HOME DISTILLING MOVEMENT

before. Home distillers the world over, are slowly coming out from behind the wood shed and are beginning to have a major impact on the spirit industry. Since

Prohibition,

home

distilling has seen a number of changes. Two of the most impactful developments have been the legalization of home beer and wine making and the increasing availability of small batch (home-sized) distilling equipment. When President Carter legalized home beer and wine production, it was only a matter of time before some enthusiasts would take that hobby to the next level. In

WRITTEN BY JOSH BAYNE

the early 2000’s small batch distilling equipment became more readily available through a number of manufacturers. Today, it is easy to count 10+ manufacturers that solely focus on 26 gallon and less distillation equipment. This cost-effective solution made it that much easier for the hobby brewer to turn into a hobby distiller.

***Distilling alcohol without the proper licenses, permits, and bonds is illegal in the United States of America. Doing so without said requirements puts you and those around you in serious danger of federal prosecution. Artisan Spirit Magazine cannot and does not endorse such activities.

Equipment is rather easy to come by these days, but there are still a number of home distillers out there who have chosen to build their own still in order to try to stay off the US government

workshops

radar. This being the case, it is rather difficult to surmise the

classes that teach

exact number of people who are partaking in the hobby. However, the if the lead times of several leading domestic equipment manufacturers is any indication (ranging from 45 – 140 days), we can begin to get a sense of the growing trend.

major

and components

of

distillation with some hands-on instruction. Although it is illegal to distill alcohol without the proper permits, licenses, and bonds, hobby distillers from across the

Another indication of the rising trend is the advancement of

country have become more open and honest about their distilling

educational distilling resources available, something that was

antics. “I’ve been distilling for about 2 years” says Ron, a small

historically lacking. Many individuals, companies and groups

batch distiller from Vancouver, WA. “I had been making beer for

have begun to organize around this common need. Online

over 20 years and started getting bored. When I saw my brew

resources like social forums (NanoDistiller.org to name one) have

shop start carrying moonshine equipment, I couldn’t help but

been a major help to those just walking into the hobby. Another

be interested,” and Ron’s story is becoming far more common.

developing resource has been the growing availability of distilling

One note that is often overlooked is the tie that illegal home

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distillation has to the legal craft distillation movement. Many licensed craft distilleries across the nation started out as illegal home distilling operations in someone’s basement. “We had been distilling for 7 years in our garage before we struck out and opened our distillery,” said a craft distiller who wishes to remain nameless for legal reasons. “We didn’t start out with hoping to open a craft distillery, but after 2 or 3 years, we realized our white whiskey was just as good as and better than any commercial option on the shelf. Once we realized that, it was all about mash testing and product development.” The regulations in place for distilling have made it almost impossible for many hopeful distillers to do product development or testing of distilled spirits. A costly distilled spirits permit is needed prior to distilling any alcohol, and many potential craft distilleries resort to illegal distillation as a way to develop and improve their products. “It was a calculated risk,” our nameless distiller explained. Over the past few years a number of “petitions” have been initiated at the whitehouse.gov website in an effort to legalize home distillation. Each attempt has been thwarted by a rather simple problem: in order to sign the petition, you must register. By registering you provide all pertinent contact information. Many people are rather leery about offering such information and then signing the petition as they feel it might incriminate them as it tends to beg the question, “Why else would you sign a petition to legalize home distilling if you weren’t already home distilling?” However, there is good news in regards to legalization. In August of 2011, the state of Missouri legalized home distilling of up to 200 gallons per year. Some might say that Missouri has decided to ignore federal regulation. However, that does not seem to be what the state is doing. “No person shall be prohibited from” is the exact verbiage used within the state statute. It seems Missouri might be on the verge of defending its 21st Amendment rights. The Missouri state legalization is a major win for the home

Grain Neutral Spirits Consistent Quality From Batch-to-Batch

distilling crowd. It offers some hope as to what might be on the horizon. Although sweeping reform is unlikely, small changes to current TTB laws might offer home distillers an easier avenue to practice their hobby, ideally without breaking the law. Other states are rumored to also have a home distilling legalization law

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coming down the pike. Only time will tell.

Josh Bayne is the Director of Craft Distilling Academy, an organization devoted to quality distillation education for both the novice and intermediate distiller. Email info@craftdistillingacademy.com or visit www.CraftDistillingAcademy.com for more information.

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THROUGH THREE

INDUSTRY COLLABORATION T

WRITTEN BY KELLIE SHEVLIN

TOASTING SUCCESS

hey say wine, beer, and spirits don’t mix. certain extent, craft distillers have benefited from the craft beer However, when it comes to best practices industry already. These new craft spirit consumers understand

in the craft business, mixing is the perfect recipe. While some the benefits of craft products and are already willing to pay more blending between markets is occurring, there is still plenty of for hand-made, small batch products. work to do to move the needle forward and create a cohesive craft beverage industry. The time is ripe to look beyond each individual niche and study both the successes and challenges of each vertical market to include beer, wine, and spirits.

THE CRAFT BEER SEGMENT: A STUDY IN COLLABORATIVE SUCCESS While the number of craft distilleries across the U.S. has increased fivefold in the past five years, the most significant

In exploring the entire craft market, the beer industry in

growth in the craft industry is still the craft brew segment. The

particular, spirit producers will be able to avoid many of the

Brewers Association reported that growth in 2012 was 15% by

pitfalls and missteps of their counterparts. Brewers have volume and 17% by dollars. Interestingly enough, there are more wineries in the U.S. than educated and engaged consumers about what craft means and taught consumers the language of craft while top wineries have

craft beer makers, but they lack the same success when it comes

marketed the elevated experience of wine. Both have successfully to informed and engaged customers. Many wine drinkers do not made the case that a quality product is worth the extra money. understand the terms, “artisan” or “boutique,” and they often By building on this foundation, the craft spirit market can

flock to their local supermarket to find name brand wines. This

experience some of the same advancements that the beer and

is not to say that there are not many informed wine drinkers, but

wine industries have experienced in recent years.

the average wine drinker is not as willing to spend money on a

BENCHMARKING THE BEST FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL For those in the craft industry, there is no reason why they

label they do not recognize. As such, they could learn a lot from the marketing successes of the beer industry where consumers go out of their way looking for the obscure or limited edition

should have to reinvent the wheel when there are pioneers that brews. have established a set of best practices. They have experienced

There is also a positive economic impact that comes from

many mistakes and missteps already and are available to discuss

collaboration. Imagine if beer, wine, spirits and cider producers

problems, compare notes, and explore new sales, marketing worked together to market all segments in one region. When the tactics, and distribution strategies that are critical to success in craft community collaborates at the grass roots level as it has in today’s competitive market.

certain markets already – Denver, Colorado, Sonoma, California,

Learning comes from all generations, not just the oldest. Portland, Oregon, and Brooklyn, New York – all commodities Each of the three craft segments are at a different age, wine 60

benefit with increased local marketing, tourism dollars, and

years, beer 30 years, and spirits 10 years. Working together as

the creation of destination hot-spots for craft enthusiasts. This

a community gives the spirits market a unique opportunity to

creates a super craft consumer and generates revenue for all

look at past successes and road blocks that each commodity has three industries and the areas where these super consumers live experienced so they can get to market quicker and operate more efficiently as well as increase market share at a faster rate. To a

or take vacations. Another key practice of brewers is to find the cities around the

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country that recognize the value that the craft industry offers in terms of tourism and local revenue. Distilleries can do the same type of research and canvas for support to help them decide on where to start-up. Brewers can share their information about what areas are conducive, and band together with wineries and distilleries to strengthen those numbers and break down barriers faster in more places. Moreover, brewers have educated the public about their products and the market in a way that has won loyal fans as well as created the groundwork for credibility and respect. Distillers can take that best practice and apply it to their own products and target audience. They can even approach the customer base of craft brewers who are already ‘educated’ and most likely open to other craft products. Lastly, brewers have mastered the art of customer engagement and know how to move customers beyond a known brand and even a preferred type of beer and toward trying more brands and varieties. As such, they have created a rabid and technologically savvy community by starting blogs, forums, and social media pages where beer drinkers feel that they are personally involved with the brewer in the craft process. Then, there are numerous beer events and socials that combine virtual and face-to-face engagement. While wine tasting has been around for awhile, the engagement with the customer has never been as involved and interactive as what craft brewers are now doing.

AN INVITATION TO HAPPY HOUR Now is the time to proactively discover how much each of the segments actually has in common. If anything, each craft segment is more alike than different. Using those similarities as the foundation, success will come by helping each other create a more cohesive industry that leverages the best experience, practices, and knowledge for everyone’s benefit. No matter what the age of the industry segment, the older segments can be assisted and supported by the new ones and vice versa. Whether it is regularly meeting up at craft industry events or hosting brainstorming sessions, collaboration is the key to the future success of all craft segments. When it is not possible to compete on price or volume, the craft community must have a clear and cohesive voice to drive revenue, customers, and market share.

Kellie Shevlin is Executive Director of the Craft Beverage Expo, a comprehensive conference tailored specifically to suppliers of craft wine, beer, and spirits. For more info visit www.craftbeverageexpo.com or call (202) 288-8898.

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O-I with

H O W - T O

SELECT BOTTLE a

GLASS HAS BEEN THE PRIMARY PACKAGING MATERIAL FOR SPIRITS FROM ANCIENT TO MODERN TIMES. OVER THE CENTURIES, GLASS CONTAINERS HAVE ENGENDERED TRUST FOR THEIR TRANSPARENCY, PORTABILITY AND PROFICIENCY IN PRESERVING PRODUCT TASTE AND QUALITY. TO BETTER UNDERSTAND HOW GLASS PACKAGING BENEFITS THE CRAFT DISTILLING INDUSTRY, WE CONTACTED JOHN ZANINI, O-I’S VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES FOR SPIRITS. ZANINI IS A SECOND-GENERATION O-I EMPLOYEE WHO BEGAN HIS CAREER AT THE COMPANY’S PLANT IN TORONTO, CANADA. WE ASKED HIM TO SHARE SOME OF HIS EXPERTISE ACQUIRED OVER THIRTY YEARS IN THE GLASS PACKAGING INDUSTRY.

HOW DOES PACKAGING AFFECT THE CONSUMER’S FIRST IMPRESSION OF A CRAFT SPIRIT? touch the packaging. So, the right packaging is critical to

ARE THERE SPECIFIC TRADITIONS THAT CAN BE FOUND IN THE BOTTLING INDUSTRY, SUCH AS TRADITIONAL SIZES OR SHAPES FOR DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF LIQUORS AND SPIRITS?

attracting people to try your product in the first place.

There are some conventions in the marketplace, and distillers

Even before they experience the product, consumers see and

HOW DOES A NEW (OR ESTABLISHED) CRAFT DISTILLERY FIRST GO ABOUT BRAINSTORMING A NEW PACKAGING DESIGN?

often congregate around those trends. Vodkas, for example, are often packaged in tall, slender bottles for a feminine appeal. Whiskies, which attract more male than female drinkers, often present in masculine, broad-shouldered decanter shapes.

It’s important very early in the process

But, even as we talk about conventions, we

to plan for both concept and container

recognize that some craft distillers are breaking

design so that both the functional and

them to gain shelf differentiation and some

branding requirements are factored

distillers are packaging a variety of products in

into the package design from the

one bottle type that represents the brand’s full

start. Distillers otherwise may invest

line.

too much time and money in the

ARE THERE DIFFERENT OPTIONS AVAILABLE IN THE MATERIALS USED OR CHEMICAL STRUCTURE OF THE GLASS BOTTLES AND PACKAGING AVAILABLE FOR CRAFT DISTILLING?

conceptual phase, only to find that the finished design creates challenges in manufacturing, filling or shipping. It’s important for the distiller to guard against having to make expensive and time-consuming design revisions at the point of production.

The pure ingredients of limestone, sand and

Manufacturing cosmetic flint spirits bottles.

soda ash make up what is commonly known as

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commercial flint glass. Flint glass is transparent, but it often has variations in tint caused by the level of iron in the raw materials. Often, the best option for craft distillers is cosmetic flint glass. Created with lower-iron raw materials, cosmetic flint glass reveals the purest product color and provides the cleanest, clearest canvas for brand identities and bottle decoration. The composition of cosmetic flint glass also allows bottle designs with thicker bases for a more premium look.

WHAT FACTOR DOES FUNCTIONALITY PLAY WHEN DECIDING ON SPIRITS PACKAGING? As the trend toward on premise creative cocktail-making continues to accelerate craft product sampling, the importance of how well the glass bottle functions to deliver a special serving experience is growing among bartenders and patrons alike. The

A sampling of O-I’s cosmetic flint stock bottle designs.

bottle’s ergonomics – the easier it is to grab and pour – plays a key role in influencing bartenders to use the spirits in new and interesting drinks. Not only that, but if consumers see a memorable bottle across the bar they’ll look for it on retail shelves.

WHEN DOES IT MAKE SENSE FOR A CRAFT DISTILLER TO DESIGN A CUSTOM PACKAGE INSTEAD OF USING A PRE-EXISTING MODEL? The glass bottle that best fits a product depends on how the distiller is positioning its spirits in the marketplace. Because of the expense associated with designing and producing custom packaging, stock bottles typically are a better alternative for craft distillers who are launching their initial products. With stock bottle designs, distillers can affordably dress their spirits in a superior bottle, gain speed-to-market and avoid a large upfront inventory investment. After a distiller is established, an iconic, custom glass packaging design provides the most differentiation in order to capture greater shelf presence and to help build market share.

Mixologist H. Joseph Ehrmann “Grabbing a bottle from a producer that hasn’t thought about how the bartender needs to work with it is like working behind a bar designed by an architect rather than a bartender. As with any trade, the more comfortable a tool feels in your hand the more skillful you can become with it.”

62 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


WHAT KINDS OF TOOLS ARE AVAILABLE TO CREATE COMPUTER MODELS OR DESIGN PROTOTYPES OF A NEW GLASS PACKAGE? Concept designers who use artistic hardware and software tools can help distillers visualize initial ideas and develop quick iterations to help narrow options before prototyping. On the engineering side, CAD modeling programs are used to check for finite design elements, such as glass weight, capacity and head space needed for filling. 3D printing allows glass packaging designers to evaluate bottle shape features, such as tip angle and contact points, to ensure the configuration is robust for easy filling and handling. A hollow glass sample prototype can realistically portray bottle aesthetics and enables capacity evaluations. It’s also ideal for conducting bartender or consumer

Designers use advanced design software and CAD modeling to take their designs from idea to reality.

HOW ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY IS GLASS?

research and testing ergonomics.

Glass bottles are among the greenest packaging options on

DOES BOTTLE DESIGN AND LABEL DECORATION PLANNING GO HAND IN HAND, OR SHOULD THEY BE HANDLED SEPARATELY?

earth. Made from abundant, natural ingredients, glass is 100% recyclable, endlessly, so it can be made into new bottles again

and again without any loss of quality. Glass is stable; it doesn’t For best aesthetic and technical results, distillers should break down into harmful chemicals on land or in oceans. And simultaneously consider bottle design and labeling options glass can actually lower your carbon footprint compared to other to ensure the brand tenets can be expressed more accurately packaging. The total lifecycle of packaging, whether it’s glass, throughout to deliver an integrated brand experience. From plastic, aluminum or paper, includes raw materials extraction and

paper labels to screen printing, there are many bottle decorating transport, manufacturing, shipping, and recycling or disposal. applications available; however bottle shape dictates what Because glass recycles endlessly, making new bottles often

works best. Embossing design elements directly into the glass requires fewer raw materials and less energy. Glass is also the like signatures and emblems provide additional branding most neutral of packaging materials so it’s the best at protecting opportunities for more difficult label areas such as sloping the quality and flavor of a product so that it tastes the way it’s shoulders. To ensure that the overall look and feel of the bottle intended. best expresses the spirit of the brand, distillers should rely on a

manufacturing partner who understands all aspects of packaging For more information on O-I’s product offerings, please email O-I at products in glass. glass@o-i.com, visit www.o-i.com

LASER-ON PRODUCTS

An exclusive line of beautifully custom designed Distillery Flasks, Glassware and Barware to promote your Craft Distillery. Create Brand Awareness and Brand Alliance with lasting results.

“YOUR SPIRITS will be REMEMBERED”

info@laser-on.com

(406) 837-1515

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INFLUENCE.

A SINCERE REQUEST FOR INDUSTRY RESPONSIBILITY

BY SCOTT SCHILLER

I wanted to take this opportunity to squarely address an issue

or launch party can result in a life-altering scenario.

that plagues my moral conscience of being in this business:

As producers, I would like to challenge us to have as much

responsible drinking and driving. Make no mistake about my

dedication to proper stewardship of our products and their

pro-alcohol stance. As a fifth generation distiller, alcohol has

consumption as we do producing beautifully crafted spirits. We

always ‘been in my blood’. At fifteen I was alongside Grandpa

all have a very intimate knowledge of alcohol, however, none

at the still. At 21, I launched my first liquor company. I am

of us are human breathalyzers nor immune to the effects of

fully invested, and God willing, I will be doing this for the rest

alcohol on our judgment.

of my life. However, I squarely admit that on more than one occasion I have safely walked in the door of my home at night,

The key is proper planning prior to the introduction of our

and suddenly been overwhelmed with the conscious recognition

products. I would like to share a few things that I would like

that I had not been in the best condition to drive.

to encourage each of us to internally implement within our

I believe this is an issue many of us in the industry have dealt with. We are constantly tasting, performing still runs, sampling barrels with large retailers, trying each others products, and

organizations.

»»

cabs home from work, and again in the morning back.

tasting an account’s new cocktails showcasing one of our products. It is part of our daily routine, and we love it. However,

»»

I wonder how often we monitor ourselves before we get behind the wheel? It is important to be cognizant of the misuses of our wares and the dangers of decision-making without responsibility. We often forget that a poor decision at a tasting, promotional event,

Make it a comfortable environment for employees to take All headed to event? Leave the cars at the office/distillery and take a chartered van together.

»»

Make sure any events you operate or support have dedicated safe consumption policies and easy access to cabs and public transportation.

64 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


»»

Use measured pour spouts. Precision Pours offers

ACDA also provides patrons with discounts, free tee-shirts or

servings as low as 0.25 ounces. Not only will you get

other incentives for designated drivers.

more pours per bottle, you will keep a standard use rate. www.precisionpours.com

»»

Limit the number of samples. While you may produce more than one product, it is not required, nor a good idea, to have them taste everything you make.

»»

Hydrate. Have water coolers easily accessible to your staff and guests.

»»

Supply Breathalyzers to all employees. There are many

This is not an easy subject to address. We all have taken great financial risks to start our businesses; let’s not risk our lives and those of others. This industry means too much to all of us to leave it prematurely.

Scott Schiller is a fifth generation distiller and Managing Director of Thoroughbred Brands. For more information visit www.ThoroughbredBrands.com or call (502) 553-7071.

manufacturers on the market, and almost all are under $200. There is even a new company that offers one that attaches to your smartphone and costs just $50, and will even hail you a cab. www.breathometer.com In addition, our industry colleagues have some other great thoughts to share: The American Distilling Institute suggests involving the bartending community. These are the people on the front-line who deal with this on a nightly basis, and their licenses depend on it. They will be more acute at spotting people who need to be cut off. Some states even require personnel to be professionally trained. It makes pouring more expensive for the distillery, but it can be a lifesaver. The American Craft Distillers Association advises everyone to learn the rules and follow them. Posting placards in highvisibility locations or placing table tents at the serving locations with the written rules and the consequences for breaking them clearly visible is always a good idea, and may in some cases be legally required. It is also important to note on all printed and online material that it is everyone’s obligation to observe the rules governing safe and legal consumption of alcohol. The

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The sun shines bright at Starlight Distillery in Starlight, Indiana. Read their story on page 51. Photo by Amanda Joy Christensen

ADVERTISER index BARREL COATING Agra Marketing Group

DISTILLERS 6 & 11

LABELS

Napa Valley Distillery

65

Rogue Spirits

BARRELS Black Swan Cooperage, LLC

6 & 34

Thousand Oaks Barrel Co.

60

DISTILLERY MERCHANDISE

Loggerhead Deco

58

BOTTLE MANUFACTURERS & SUPPLIERS 7 & 68

63

Artisan Still Design

20

Hillbilly Stills

17

Red Boot Stills

36

Vendome Copper & Brass Works, Inc

5

Jelinek Cork Group

30

Paulson Supply

60

Reed Wax

44

Tapi USA

7, 13, & 58

St. Louis Litho

Moonshine University

67

Imperial-Packaging Corporation

54

Packaging Support Group

41

Phoenix Packaging

37

Saxco International

44

REFRIGERATION & CHILLERS

4&6

GNS & BULK SPIRITS SUPPLIERS 7 & 58

Ultra Pure

19

21

TOTES & TANKS Custom Metalcraft

Pharmco-Aaper

56 7&9

Brad-Pak Enterprises

G & D Chillers

EDUCATION

CORKS & CLOSURES

LabelOne Connect, Inc.

PACKAGING

Laser-On Products

DISTILLING EQUIPMENT

BOTTLE & GLASS DECORATING

O-I

7

46

TRADE EXPOS Craft Beverage Expo

25

DESIGN, BRANDING & MERCHANDISING CF Napa Brand Design Thoroughbred Brands

2 30

GUILD ORGANIZATIONS DSTILL American Craft Distillers Assoc.

50 6 & 14

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YOUR FRIENDS AT JACK DANIEL’S REMIND YOU TO DRINK RESPONSIBLY.

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.com #glassislife

Artisan Spirit: Winter 2013  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.