Formation And Protecting Your Name
Prior to entering into an agreement with any distillery, the first step will be forming a company. Whether you form an LLC, S corp, or choose another corporate structure, you want to shield yourself and your partners from personal liability.
Keep in mind that the state costs of forming a corporate entity can change from state to state. New York, for instance, has a publication requirement for LLCs that can cost over $1,000 on its own. You may also choose to work with an attorney to draft documents, like an operating agreement for your LLC. Once the entity is formed, youll also want to register your trademarks.
Be sure to register your trademarks before you start working on your brand strategy. It makes no sense to spend thousands of dollars on a designer for your labels and marketing materials only to find out that another brand holds the trademark for the name youve chosen.
How Hard Seltzers Are Made
The manufacturers of non-alcoholic seltzer simply use filtered water or spring water and flavor it with flavor essence. It is then carbonated and put into a can. This is the same principle as making soda pop. Ingredients dont cost much.
Other drinks like beer, wine, and flavored vodkas are much more expensive. They require specialized equipment and costly ingredients. Their manufacture is more labor-intensive. Energy input and effluent treatment are needed. Cleaning chemicals must be factored in. There are also costs related to fermentation and aging.
Just think of how much simpler it is to make seltzer and add a flavor essence and a shot of alcohol!
Many varieties use fermented cane sugar. Then, fruit flavors are added. Others produce flavored malt beverages. New variations are coming out all the time.
How To Make Flavored Vodkas
Making flavored vodkas at home gives you the creative freedom to infuse your vodka with herbs, spices, fruits and even vegetables. All you need is a good bottle of plain vodka, a strainer, a large clear jar, and your flavorful ingredient of choice. Its a simple and fun culinary feat and it will save you some cash in the process.
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Finding The Right Production Partner
Who will make our product? Regardless if you are making a spirit, beer, or wine, there will be a fair amount of searching and analysis to arrive at the ideal production partner. Your distillery, brewery, or winery should be able to assist you with producing your product, logistically obtaining bottles, corks, caps, tops, labels, and boxes/cases. For the most part, this turnkey approach is a fine balance between cost efficiency and the added stress and headaches of you, as a newcomer to the space, trying to coordinate all the production components and moving parts.
The design work and creative will be your responsibility. Im confident various production partners can steer you to local resources along the way if you need them and that can be a good thing. For instance, lets say you create a wonder label with your local designer and want to produce them. You can either produce them locally as well or take a recommendation for the printing from your production partner that is local to them . Its possible the freight cost savings could be beneficial to the project long term.
Small Batch Contract Distilling
Have you ever thought about having your own brand spirits, maybe a single malt or brandy distilled from your own wort, cider or wine. Maybe you would like to use botanicals youve foraged or selected to create your own unique gin or botanical vodka? Well, we can help turn that dream into a reality with our small batch contract distilling service.
We have been distilling for other brands since 2014 and our spirits have been rewarded with medals in most major spirits competitions ever since. Despite offering small minimum quantities, our service is fully scalable to match your ambition and we can even help with overseas export.
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Are You Looking To Hire For Certain Positions Right Now
We are currently working with consultants who add value in specific roles. When the time comes to hire, we generally handpick personnel whom we know or have worked successfully with in the past. The spirit world is very small, so if you have your ear to the ground, you usually know the talent available around you. That being said, while we are currently not looking for any new hires, we are always open to consider those who share our same vision and can step right in to move the needle very fast and effectively within their area of responsibility.
What Youll Need To Make The Potato Mash
Before we get started with the step by step recipe, heres what youll need to make your mash:
- 25 Pounds of Spuds
- 7 Gallons of Filtered Water
- 5 Pounds of Crushed Malted Barley
- Mash Pot
- Hand Masher or Immersion Blender
- Long Spoon
- Brewing Hydrometer
As any connoisseur will tell you, good stuff comes from good ingredients including vodka. So buy yourself some quality roasting potatoes and malted barley, and be sure to use filtered water instead of tap water.
And dont bother peeling your tubers. Your vodka will have more character that way.
Also, dont skip out on the thermometer. Temperature will play a crucial role in breaking down the starches in those potatoes, but you want to be sure you dont burn them.
A brewing hydrometer is another important piece of equipment that youll need in order to take whats called a gravity reading. The gravity reading will indicate how much sugar is in your mash, which later translates to alcohol content.
Now lets break down how to make your mash step by step.
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Why Are Hard Seltzers So Popular
Presently hard seltzer is a $550 million business. Analysts project it will keep growing. By 2021, they estimate hard seltzer sales will reach $2.5 billion.
While seltzer water has been around since Joseph Priestly invented it over two hundred and fifty years ago, hard seltzer has been around only since 2013. Originally called Spiked Seltzer, it was rebranded Bon & Vivian, and then Bon Viv. By 2016, other companies had released including heavy hitters White Claw and Truly. These two control 85% of hard seltzer sales.
There are now so many brands that in 2020 the 50 best hard seltzer brands were reviewed by Mens Health.
Why the popularity? People are looking for a refreshing beverage with low calories, little sugar, and natural flavors. Because it is low alcohol in content and gluten-free, hard seltzer appeals to the health-conscious drinker. Hard seltzer also appeals to the budget-conscious drinker.
Let The Fun Stuff Begin
So far, you probably think this information is on point and relevant. You also may be thinking this does NOT seem exciting, lively, sexy, fun, or unique. Like I said before, this is a business and I strongly recommend you cover the necessary steps and foundational matters very diligently and professionally. I promise you, the exciting stuff is coming!
Once you decide on which type of alcoholic beverage you want to create, I recommend writing a summary of your idea and answer the following two questions: 1) What will be unique about my product and brand that will cause people to want to buy it? 2) What price point would I like to see this product on the shelf at my local liquor/package store?
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How To Start Your Very Own Liquor Brand
Have you ever wondered what it takes to start your own liquor brand? Needless to say, news of reality star Bethenny Frankel selling her Skinny Girl margarita company for over $100 million and reports that Diddys Ciroc deal composes much of his net worth has certainly peaked the interest of many a budding entrepreneur.
It is indeed a lucrative business, but not for the faint of heart, nor for those lacking the weighty financial means. It takes tenacity and creativity to produce your brand and get your product noticed to the point of viability in the crowded marketplace.
Building a brand of liquor is very analogous to walking into a bar as a single guy, said Charles Vaughn, Chairman and CEO of Premium Beverage Imports, Ltd. If you see something that catches your eye, a beautiful woman, you tend to focus on it, you may approach her, and you start to talk to her and get to know her a little bit. Its the same thing with liquor, if you see something that catches your eye on the back bar, youll ask the bartender about it, maybe youll try a sip of it, get a taste of it.
To help us demystify the business of liquor, we consulted Vaughn, an expert who consults entrepreneurs on building liquor brands and who launched two vodka brands himself, Atomiq and LeSin, as well as Walter Moore, the co-owner, president & chief evangelist of Campo de Encanto Pisco, to help us understand the steps involved in starting and building a successful product line.
Hello Who Are You And What Business Did You Start
My name is Umberto Luchini, and I am the founder and proprietor of Wolf Spirit Distillery, which crafts Blood x Sweat x Tears vodka, and imports Tom of Finland Organic Vodka. Our distillery is based in Eugene, OR .
Our flagship product is Blood x Sweat x Tears vodka, hand-distilled by Ben Green using locally sourced ingredients: soft white winter wheat from Hamilton Ranch and purified waters from our local Cascade mountains. The copper column distilled liquid is then freeze filtered to achieve an exceptionally smooth vodka that manages to retain much of the character of the grain. The brand name derives from Sir Winston Churchills famous World War II speech — “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat — which over time evolved into blood, sweat, and tears. That kind of effort captures the spirit of both our entrepreneurial journey and our vodka.
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S To Starting Your Own Whiskey Brand
Many entrepreneurs have dreamed of owning their own liquor brand. Maybe you love vodka, you want to come up with the next tequila, or your passion is the brown stuff, whiskey!
If you have ever wanted to know what it takes and how to get started, here are some good tips on where to start! Should you need more assistance after reading the basics feel free to reach out to Johnson Street Partners, where we are helping build brands for the next generation!
Our One Year Anniversary
Its now been a year since we aligned with our first wholesaler. Its been an exciting year. Weve had the opportunity to brief the entire on and off-premise teams with our wholesaler. Theyve done a great job introducing the brand to their key account. The brand has achieved great success with initial placements. All things are pointed up for the brand.
Keep it up. Dont rest. Staying fresh and keeping your and promotional events new and exciting is critical. Where allowable, go ahead and run spiffs and incentives and awards for the sales reps and management of your wholesalers. Everything you do is a step in the long process of building a remarkable brand and business. Thats building VALUE!
Now that you have one or two great relationships with wholesalers let that be the model for how you will approach other markets. Feel free to use those success stories as you build and expand. Dont be afraid to focus on the failures too. Thats where true learning and experience live.
Best of Luck and Cheers !!
Look for Part Two, How To Market Your New Liquor Brand, next week.
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Check The Alcohol Content
Once you have the hearts of your run separated, youll want to cool them to about 68 and use an alcometer to measure the alcohol content. To be considered vodka, the distillate should have an ABV of between 40 to 90% .
If you find the vodka too strong, you can dilute it with filtered water. If the vodka is too weak, you can redistill it to increase the alcohol content. In fact, some premium brands of vodka are distilled 4 or 5 times. However, keep in mind that the foreshots, heads and tails must be discarded in EVERY run.
How To Make Your Own Hard Seltzer Recipe
There are two ways to make hard seltzer:
The easiest way is to blend. If youre blending, you can use flavored vodka to add the flavor of your choice.
A fast and easy way to blend is to take Switch Vodka Light and soak the fruit of your choice on this zero calories, zero sugar product. Experiment with various natural flavor fruit combinations. Just before serving, add club soda or seltzer water to the Switch Vodka Light/fruit combination. The time you soak the fruit in Switch Vodka Light will increase the fruit flavor or your quick and easy Hard Seltzer drink.
To give guests some participation, you might mix a batch of plain hard seltzer and have guests add pieces of fruit to their drink.
Create a sugar brew batch of plain hard seltzer mix two gallons of spring or filtered water in a brew kettle to a boil. Add three pounds of corn sugar. Stir gently to dissolve the sugar. Then add a mineral pack. This is composed of Epsom salt, magnesium chloride, and baking soda. Stir vigorously to dissolve the minerals. Look for flavors like pear to add to your sugar brew.
You can also make a sugar brew by adding fast-acting yeast to the corn sugar. The yeast colony feeds rapidly on the sugar. The process takes three days to a week. Add water back into the sugar wash. Bottle or keg the sugar brew.
If you want to get into making your hard seltzer in a more ambitious way try this bigger volume recipe:
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Selecting A Brand Name
Trademarking the name and the logo will be strongly recommended. The main point I want to leave you with on this topic is to make sure you trademark both the name AND the stylized mark for the brand you create. Im not a trademark attorney, but I believe most trademark attorneys would heartily agree with this strategic approach.
What Youll Need To Distill Your Vodka
Congrats, youve done most of the heavy lifting when it comes to making your own vodka. Now its time to distill your mash water and collect the product! Heres what youll need:
- A Still
- Your Mash Water
- Column Packing
Stills come in two major categories: pot stills and column stills. While either type can be used to make vodka, copper column stills are usually preferredwhen making high-proof, neutral-tasting spirits because the copper helps to remove sulfides and produce a better smell and taste.
With that in mind, weve based our instructions on a column still.
Distilling Your Vodka
1: Prep Your Still
As most experts will tell you, distilling the best vodka is all about attention to detail. And one of the most important and sometimes overlooked details in the distillation process is cleaning your still.
Even if you cleaned your still thoroughly after its last run, its best to clean it again. Youll also want to add clean copper packing to your column. And as with any run, youll want to check that any domes, condensers, columns and hoses are attached securely.
2: Run Your Still
Once youve cleaned your still and checked that everything is attached properly, its time to fire er up! The still should start producing at about 170.
Youll want to heat your wash to about 173 but make sure that the temperature never exceeds 212 .
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Describe The Process Of Launching The Business
I started with just my own savings. My father had always banked a full 50% of his salary, and I always followed his example. I live in a very small apartment and do not spend much money on clothing or frivolities. So, I had money in the bank multiple business models and incredible fire in my belly. The next step was to set up a distillery, which is of course extremely expensive: not just a distillers salary, but space, equipment, permitting, insurance, cost of goods, etc. So, for that, I found an excellent partner, Brian Kirschenmann: one of the biggest potato farmers in the US, and one of Ben’s best friends.
I designed our first brand Blood x Sweat x Tears vodka and Ben started making it in our distillery. The idea and name for the vodka were just from my life: the name celebrates the struggle and risk of living outside of what society expects. It also celebrates the grit and humility and blood, sweat, and tears — it takes to find success when you have chosen that path.
Heat The Wash In The Still To Begin The Distillation Process
Depending on the type of still being used, gas burners, wood fires, or electric hot plates are all options. A temperature of about 173° F at sea level is desirable, but the temperature must be kept below the boiling point of water, 212° F at sea level. As the wash becomes heated, alcohol and other substances vaporize and condense in the water-cooled area of the still.
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How To Start A New Vodka Brand Business
Creating a new vodka brand takes two sets of skills. One is the knowledge of how to make a good vodka from grain, potatoes or other source materials. The other is the knowledge of marketing. With a skilled marketing campaign, you may convince vodka lovers to try your private-label spirits, but it’s quality that will bring them back.