Distillery

Craft distilleries are popping up across the country. The 1,835 distilleries that now exist is a growth of 15.5% from 2017 to 2018, which is substantial and catapulting the industry out of a “niche” category.

Craft distilleries are also selling more units, which each, on average, selling 4,096 cases in 2017. That’s up 0.9% from the previous year, according to Wine Magazine.

What accounts for the rapid growth

The consumption of spirits is up nearly 5 million cases from last year and dominates 37.4% of total alcohol consumption.

Craft distillery owners are noticing a customer’s desire for a unique product and that they want to drink it in an attractive setting.

To cater to that desire, distilleries are offering customers experiences and they are striving to be a destination for consumers.

Owners are investing in their distilleries. The total investment in the industry increased by more than $190 million, to $590 million in total. The money spent on bettering distilleries doubled from $299 million in 2015. The investments were used to build out the tasting rooms and other visitor experiences, as well as equipment to increase production capacity.

Tours, classes, and workshops rank as some of the biggest draws for customers.

Distillery Boom

Koval, one of the first distilleries in Chicago since before Prohibition, was founded by the husband and wife-duo Dr. Robert Birnecker and Dr. Sonat Birnecker-Hart. Koval has won a plethora of awards for its dry-gins and the Midwestern-grown organic rye whiskey. Besides the great-tasting spirits, the distillery offers tours, cocktail classes, and whiskey workshops to draw in customers.

Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn uses its three historic buildings to help attract customers. The tastings take place in The Gatehouse, which is in the center of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It offers tours that cover the history, culture, and science of distilling whiskey, in what it calls the “Boozeum.”

Where to find top distilleries

Of the 1,835 distilleries, nearly 33.7% were concentrated in five states:

  • California has 156
  • New York has 134
  • Washington State has 122
  • Texas has 108
  • Colorado boasts 99

The next five states with the most distilleries are Oregon, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida; they comprise an additional 18.4% of the market.

Employment in the craft industry also grew last year to 18,300 jobs, or about more than 10 employees per distillery.

There’s no federal definition of what a craft distillery is, but each state may have production limits for a company if it wants to be considered a craft distillery.

What craft distilleries can do to draw in more customers

 While many craft distilleries are popping up across the country, there’s still a lot you can do besides the taste of your products to attract customers.

  • Label it: An eye-catching label will still grab your customers’ attention in stores and draw them in to find out more about your brand. Consider bright colors or a cool design.
  • Provide cool experiences: Consider cleaning up your space and offering a tour of the premises before tastings. Customers want to learn about the entire process that goes into creating their drink.
  • Consider investing: If you have the capital or can secure a loan, investing in renovating or expanding your facilities to make way for guests will only help increase profits down the line.
  • Promote your local ties: Customers love knowing that their product was made and grown locally. Be sure to boast this fact about your distillery on your labels, website, and social media.

Wine and Spirits

Meredith Galante

Meredith Galante is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has been published in USA Today, amNewYork, Newsday, Square and more. She's interviewed then-Mayor Cory Booker, Ryan Seacrest, and other New Jersey folks who made their community better. She's covered breaking news, sports, features, and now frequently writes about small businesses.