Artisan Spirit: Summer 2014

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t is a fantasy seemingly unattainable: to start a distillery “allows us to launch our brand while we are going through the without the massive upfront costs associated with building TTB process.”

a company from scratch. Buying/leasing a building, purchasing

Despite not making their product themselves,

the instruction and information available during the distilling

barrels, sourcing ingredients, complying with international/ process is invaluable. But even for someone with some distilling federal/state/city laws, buying glassware and designing labels; experience, having the supervision of a successful veteran in the if you want to start a distillery, the task list can grow quickly. A early stages of a new distillery can give you an edge if you are potential distiller may be intimidated out of their dream. But there is another option gaining traction and popularity

able to continue on to your own facilities. There can be some detriments to starting a business this

around the country: contract distilling. While not new, the recent

way, however. Since White River’s goal is to eventually continue

boom of craft distilling in the country has also meant a boom

production in their own distillery, they told us the biggest

to this practice: contracting out time on your equipment to an drawback they anticipate so far is “our spirits are not being made upstart distiller or agreeing to make a spirit from a potential in the same still they will be when we open our own distillery. We distiller’s recipe.

are going to have to work extra hard to ensure we are following

We had a chance to talk to both Blue Flame Spirits and White

the same process for distilling and finishing the product when we

River Distillers. White River, a brand new company, has entered

transfer operations to our own location.” In addition, they rely on

into an agreement with Blue Flame to create their first line of Blue Flame to do the actual work so White River isn’t totally in products utilizing Blue Flame’s equipment, storage space, and

control of production timelines. This can cause some frustration

ingredients. Both distilleries were willing to share some details

when trying to determine shipping times.

of their arrangement in order to help inform others who may be interested in researching this process for themselves.

If you own a distillery you might be wondering “why would I ever make someone else’s product?” Well, there can be some

In this partnership, White River won’t actually use Blue

benefits for you as well. It can be an extra source of revenue

Flame’s still themselves, the labor is done by Blue Flame’s

from the off-hours you aren’t using the facility. Or, if you make it

trained employees. However, the recipe was finalized by White

part of your agreement, you may get a percentage of the returns

River, who are solely responsible for the quality and the decision

their product makes. If you don’t want anyone else using your

to start bottling. They ensure quality by traveling to the distillery

valuable equipment, outsourcing your time for someone else’s

during the mash, fermentation and distillation processes. Blue

product gives your employees a chance at trying new things. For

Flame usually offers to source packaging materials, but White

Brian Morton of Blue Flame, it is also a good feeling to help grow

River was so far along into their product design that Blue Flame

the distilling industry by helping a startup get their first chance.

agreed to let them source their own glass, labels, and branding

Blue Flame is turning this process into a service they will

independently. Bottles are shipped directly to Blue Flame, and

offer to whoever would like to apply. They are launching these

Blue Flame will fill the bottles and deliver to a distributor.

services as a new division within their business, specifically to

For someone who would like to start a distillery, the benefits of offer people the chance to come up with a recipe and see the working with someone else’s equipment, or labor, readily present distilling process through to distribution and delivery . Their idea themselves. Getting an initial run of a spirit to a distributor is to offer turnkey-style distilling and business instruction to without having to find facilities/equipment of your own can

people of any experience level, which will show how much effort

generate revenue that goes directly towards the cost of opening

and how many resources it takes to open a distillery. They hope

your own production facility. For White River, this process

to help many young distilleries in the future.

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