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Whiskey Bottling vs. Whiskey Distilling

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I have noticed that whiskeys such as Pendelton and Snake River Stampede are distilled in Canada and then bottled in their respective facilities. Is this recommended? Is it a way to get started with lower capital investments, and without having to wait for the whiskey to age? Do people do this with vodka? Is it difficult to maintain quality control?

Thoughts anyone?

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I have noticed that whiskeys such as Pendelton and Snake River Stampede are distilled in Canada and then bottled in their respective facilities. Is this recommended? Is it a way to get started with lower capital investments, and without having to wait for the whiskey to age? Do people do this with vodka? Is it difficult to maintain quality control?

Thoughts anyone?

If you want to be a distiller, then distill. If you want to be solely a marketing company, then take that path. Not much "craft" to putting something someone else made into a bottle right?

Don

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Both brands are Canadian Whiskeys, which have to be distilled in Canada by law.

I would wager that neither Hood River nor Indio, the respective sellers of these brands, are "craft distillers" or even own a still.

So, to answer your questions:

Is it recommended? That is a choice you have to make. If you want to sell Canadian Whiskey, it has to be distilled in Canada. If you buy bulk whiskey from Canada, you are an importer rather than a distiller. There may be different licensing issues and fees. You will essentially be a marketing company. Not that there's anything wrong with it.

Is it a way to get started with lower capital investment? I would guess that the initial budgets for Pendelton and Snake River Stampede were exponentially higher than the budgets most on this site are dealing with. That's not to say one couldn't start more modestly.

Do people do this with vodka? Yes, yes and yes. I think many (most) of the brands you see on shelves are made from neutral spirits distilled by another entity. Again, only you can decide if this is the route you want to take.

Is it difficult to maintain quality control? If you are purchasing bulk spirit from a distiller, chances are the quality of the product you are buying will not vary much from shipment to shipment.

Deciding whether your interest is making a unique, hand crafted spirit or a being marketer of a purchased product is up to you. I'm sure there is overlap and gray area between the two as well.

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Many people have gone the route of buying and bottling bulk product, ostensibly until their own distillate is ready for market. One problem I see is that, if that product is a fully-aged whiskey, it will be very difficult if not impossible for you to duplicate the product you bought and if you can't, then you've defeated the purpose. I know of no one who has done it successfully except Brown-Forman, which did something like that with Woodford Reserve, although that is a unique situation in many respects and that's also a major corporation, not a micro.

This also assumes that the people who say they are doing this are even telling the truth, but that's a different matter.

It's a slightly different matter with vodka too and plenty of people are buying GNS, bottling it, and pretending they made it. (Have I said too much?) Vodka being what it is, the GNS produced in one still is pretty much like every other, but as others have said, what's your objective? If you intend to make a unique, "craft" product, then what have you accomplished by coming out of the box as a non-distiller marketer of a product made by somebody else?

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Many people have gone the route of buying and bottling bulk product, ostensibly until their own distillate is ready for market. One problem I see is that, if that product is a fully-aged whiskey, it will be very difficult if not impossible for you to duplicate the product you bought and if you can't, then you've defeated the purpose. I know of no one who has done it successfully except Brown-Forman, which did something like that with Woodford Reserve, although that is a unique situation in many respects and that's also a major corporation, not a micro.

This also assumes that the people who say they are doing this are even telling the truth, but that's a different matter.

It's a slightly different matter with vodka too and plenty of people are buying GNS, bottling it, and pretending they made it. (Have I said too much?) Vodka being what it is, the GNS produced in one still is pretty much like every other, but as others have said, what's your objective? If you intend to make a unique, "craft" product, then what have you accomplished by coming out of the box as a non-distiller marketer of a product made by somebody else?

After doing a quick google search I find that the Vodka that comes in a pretty blue bottle comes in on a rail car from the mid west with one car going to Benicia to be add to gasoline and another heading to an unnamed company on the 101 for packaging. Could this be right?

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I have, with mine own eyes, seen that blue bottle on the bottling line at Brown-Forman. It's not a Brown-Forman product, just a contract bottling job for them.

About all that is done to industrial GNS to make it vodka is some amount of filtering. I believe Smirnoff is the only major domestic brand that has its own distillery and that's not so much because they do anything special, but because they have enough volume that they can make money doing it themselves rather than buying it. Rain Vodka is actually distilled by and at Buffalo Trace. Seagram's vodka and gin are distilled at the plant that used to be owned by Seagram's and is now owned by Angostura, in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Again, it makes sense because of the volume. Virtually every other domestic vodka and gin is simply GNS made by ADM or one of the usual suspects and bottled (and in the case of gin, flavored with concentrate) by the ostensible producer. Many micro-distillers do the exact same thing, although some actually re-distill the GNS for reasons known only to them.

I understand the marketing importance of vodka, it brings in revenue and that's important. I'm not criticizing that. I guess I will say, though, that it's one thing to fool the public, something else again to fool yourself.

There are micro-distillers who genuinely make vodka from scratch and while there might be room for debate about how any plain vodka (flavored vodka being another story) can be distinctive, people who genuinely make it from scratch at least have that going for them and I will give them due respect for that. People who just put industrial GNS into a fancy bottle, blue or otherwise, well...

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Virtually every other domestic vodka and gin is simply GNS made by ADM or one of the usual suspects . . .

You mentioned "ADM" ~ are you referring to Arthur Daniels Midland? If so I wasn't aware that they were in the GNS business. The name I have heard most often is Pharmco - Aaper.

I'm curious if anyone here has posted a list of all the major GNS suppliers? (note: for research purposes only, as we don't plan to use it).

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The principal producers of GNS for the beverage industry are Grain Processing Corporation (Muscatine IA), Midwest Grain Products (Pekin IL). and Archer Daniels Midland (Peoria, IL).

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So what are most people who use GNS to make vodka doing? Are they simply adding water and packaging? Are they carbon filtering? Are they giving it a lap through their own still? Does the quality change when doing anything to it?

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Both brands are Canadian Whiskeys, which have to be distilled in Canada by law.

I would wager that neither Hood River nor Indio, the respective sellers of these brands, are "craft distillers" or even own a still.

-snip-

You are correct about Hood River not owning a still. According to this article they sold them all off in the late 60's. They do large volumes of work with GNS and their value line of products.

http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/eat-and-drink/articles/distillery1-0509/

Mark

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