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Prior Distilling Experience


EricCantina

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Hey guys,

So this question has been brought up many times now while we are talking with potential investors.

Do we have any prior distilling experience?

None of us have, but we're incredibly well educated in spirits from being USBG bartenders and we know this side of the business very well.

So our question to you guys is whether you had actual distilling experience prior to opening your distillery? Whether it be working at bars, distributors, or brokers, actually spending some time working at a brewery, winery, or distillery, just taking classes at Siebel or other distilleries, or you just had money and could just jump right into it.

Thanks a lot!

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I think the more important question investors should be asking is if you have any spirits marketing experience. Distilling experience is important but it is (depending on location) easier and cheaper to hire in than a good marketing guy.

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Your insurance company will ask the same thing. So will the bank. And all of your friends, and everyone who walks through the door. I agree with jwymore that marketing is just as if not more important than the distilling side of things, but unless you are only bottling and selling, you need to know how to actually distill, not just pour drinks.

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And to answer your question, I took every class I could, got a fuel alcohol license and made as much fuel alcohol as I could, made as much beer and wine as my friends could drink, and still hired a distiller with more experience than I had. Because I have to know what is going on in the next room.

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Like any job interview, your answer needs to be factual and explain to them why you are qualified to operate a distillery. An answer that starts with "No, but I have ..." can be a successful answer.

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Like any job interview, your answer needs to be factual and explain to them why you are qualified to operate a distillery. An answer that starts with "No, but I have ..." can be a successful answer.

I totally agree with this and that's how we've been answering.

Marketing and sales is definitely our greatest strength since we are all bartenders and either know or are 1 introduction away from all the bartenders or bar managers in our region.

And we've taken the Siebel course and have done some hands on work days at other distilleries.

We're just gauging how many people come to opening their own distillery with actual distilling experience prior.

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We had no prior professional distilling experience prior to opening our distillery in August 2012.

We purchased a Hillbilly still to try experimental recipes with while waiting for our main column still to arrive.

Three months later we got a gold medal with 94 points from the Beverage Testing Institute.

Eight months after opening we got a Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

So I would say that deep experience prior to opening is not needed in order to produce high quality spirits.

As the others have said, as an investor I would place a higher value on the ability to sell and get distributors. In this business there are very average spirits that sell very strongly due to image and marketing only.

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