What Are Craft Spirits?
Most people are familiar with large spirit brands such as Bacardi, Smirnoff, Ketel One or Jim Bean. These and similar products, which are created in large, factory-like distilleries, have nearly monopolized the spirit market through aggressive campaigns and product placement agreements.
Along with craft beer, America is now experiencing a craft spirits renaissance and with it has come new lesser known spirit brands such as Swallowtail Spirits, Rolling River Spirits and Vivacity Fine Spirits.
Craft spirits are born from a process called craft distilling, which doesn’t yet have an absolute definition. In general, it means a family owned business that uses old-fashion distilling techniques to create small spirit batches with acute attention to quality, ingredients, techniques and authenticity. This approach also lends itself to experimentation, innovation and novel tastes that tend to allude large profit-driven spirit manufactures.
American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) states that “While we recognize that to many, the term “craft” is in the eye of the beholder, ACSA prefers to think of craft spirits as:
• A product produced by a distillery who values the importance of transparency in distilling, and remains forthcoming regarding the spirit’s ingredients, distilling location, and aging and bottling process.
• A distilled spirit produced by a distillery producing fewer than 750,000 gallons annually.
• A spirit produced by a distillery that is independently owned and operated, with more than a 75% equity stake in their company and operational control.
The American Craft Spirits Association defines a craft distillery as follows:
• A distillery who values the importance of transparency in distilling, and remains forthcoming regarding their use of ingredients, their distilling location and process, bottling location and process, and aging process.
• A distillery that produces fewer than 750,000 gallons annually.
• A distillery that is independently owned and operated, with more than a 75% equity stake in their company and operational control.
Unfortunately, the word craft is not regulated in advertising or labeling. As craft spirits continue to grow in popular it’s important to be aware of companies that falsely claim to be “hand-made” or craft spirits. Recently, Tito’s Handmade Vodka faced lawsuit over using a “highly automated” process. Also, many distillers want to use handcrafted label without putting in the work. Moreover, many big spirit companies are actively trying to capture and manipulate the market with “small” craft spirit divisions.
In 2013, the president of Diageo North America, which makes Johnnie Walker, Baileys, Smirnoff and Guinness, said “We’re going to be the number one craft distiller in North American whiskey in the U.S.”. To these ends, Diageo has made substantial investments, via Distill Ventures, into Westward American’s single malt whiskey which is distilled by the House Spirits Distillery in Portland, Oregon.
There are no short cuts when it comes to creating authentic craft spirits. It’s about a story, hands-on owners, craftsmanship, authenticity, connection and transparency. At the end of the day, it’s about the craft spirit experience which can’t be faked, or mass produced.
8th Devil Distributing proudly distributes craft spirits throughout Southern California. Our regional master distillers never take short cuts when it comes to creating premium, small batch, authentic hand-crafted spirits. It's about stories, hands-on owners, craftsmanship, authenticity, connection and transparency. At the end of the day, it’s about an experience that can’t be faked, or mass produced. Taste a real spirit. 8thDevil.com