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to process “smaller tanks, smaller label runs.” Mile High started by renting a mobile canning line. But as demand for their Punching Mules increased, they needed a more sustainable solution. “We outgrew them and got our own canning line from Wild Goose.” Wild Goose Canning is a Boulder, Colorado based producer of canning lines that has become one of the top suppliers for craft brewers. Wyn says they’re already looking towards an upgrade. Chicago Distilling Company opted for a canning line from a slightly different source. With their attention on carbonation and cues from the soft drink industry, they looked for a canning line that could meet those demands. Distillers who haven’t cut their teeth in the brewing word and therefore aren’t familiar with canning lines shouldn’t be afraid, nor should they assume it’s plug and play. Wyn said, “there’s a bit of a learning curve to get to know the equipment— we’re the mechanics, we’re the engineers, we’re the builders—but you just need the right mind, and a lot of patience to deal with the equipment.” With this new equipment does come the risk of lack of focus. Danielle Smith of Sheffield, Massachusetts-based Berkshire Mountain Distillers said “yes, we made Gin & Tonics and Vodka & Tonics. We only did one large run…” The distillery has since put it on hold. Smith added that they’ve decided to focus on their core products. “The demand for the rest of our line is just too high to devote the time at the moment.”

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CLOSING THOUGHTS Though the market opportunities seem to be there, distillers looking at creating their own line of canned cocktails may need to weigh the pros and cons. New equipment can be costly. New product development and research can be time consuming (and don’t skip the research!). And expertise may need to be developed among the distillery team, especially if staff are unfamiliar with soda creation and perishable product development. There are real pricing challenges on the consumer side that ask you to convince people that a canned cocktail is worth the per-can price. There’s also the risk of losing focus of your core products. But millennials’ tastes are looking towards new ways to enjoy spirits in a variety of new contexts and the market is rife with opportunity, and while the regulatory hurdles are not entirely absent, they don’t seem to be as daunting to savvy, experienced distillers. And so the opportunity remains in the coolers of America’s backyards. I N F O @ S P I R I T S C O N S U LT I N G .CO M

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Aaron Knoll is a noted gin historian, critic and consultant. He authored 2015's “Gin: The Art and Craft of the Artisan Revival,” which has since been translated into three languages, and additionally co-authored 2013's “The Craft of Gin.” He also founded leading gin website TheGinisIn.com in 2009. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

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Artisan Spirit: Winter 2017  
Artisan Spirit: Winter 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.