Artisan Spirit: Summer 2022

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& YOUR CRAFT SPIRITS BRAND If there was ever a time to consider lead times and logistics as they relate to your craft spirits brand, it is now.


hipping delays. Supply chain complications. Widespread shortages. Freight costs have skyrocketed, and lead times have doubled or tripled. Raw material scarcities, labor shortages, natural disasters, wars, and enduring effects of the COVID era have impacted industries around the world, and in some cases, changed the landscape altogether. These upheavals have created huge financial and logistical barriers to entry for new craft spirits brands, as well as first-time challenges for existing brands.

HOW CAN YOUR SPIRITS BRAND STAY AHEAD OF THESE CHALLENGES? THE KEY IS UNDERSTANDING THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION. Here is how shortages and delays affect the spirits industry and how companies are pivoting to avoid them: GLASS BOTTLES Contrary to its meaning, orders for “stock” bottles take anywhere from four months to more than a year to be fulfilled, and it is almost impossible to find a warehouse with bottles readily available. Some bottle vendors are unable to take on new clients for up to a year. Stock bottles are only produced a few times annually — once a warehouse has depleted its supply, it is out of stock until the next production run. As a craft distiller, you must battle bigger players for the precious few stock bottles — this may mean your order will be canceled or your pricing will increase as supply decreases. Extended timelines and lack of availability have caused craft spirits producers to consider custom glass bottles. Custom bottles are made-to-order and cannot be purchased by other spirits producers as they are unique to your brand. While this route requires an upfront investment (design, mold costs, initial orders), the payoff is control of the supply chain, having bottles to fill and sell, and the opportunity for the bottle to set your brand apart with a higher perceived value.


T-TOPS The timeline for custom T-Tops, previously around two months, has stretched to six months. Customers with quick turnaround projects are choosing to use stock instead of fully custom pieces to avoid missing deadlines. CAPSULES In past years, it was safe to assume that the lead time for capsules was around six weeks to two months depending on material — currently, the timeline is four to six months. To compensate, brands are ditching customized capsules for clear PVC safety seals that show off their closure or forgoing the capsule altogether for a paper tamper evident label. LABELS As the world returns to normal, producers are eager to hit the “unpause” button on their projects, meaning label printers are busier than ever. Scheduling your time on press early is essential as timelines change weekly depending on availability of raw materials and type of paper. Some of the more popular paper stock options that were once readily available have had their lead times expand from several days to upwards of six weeks. Brands need to consider having artwork available to print earlier and discuss a production schedule for future runs with their label printer. 27

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