One of the fun things about owning a distillery is that we get to make really good alcohol and express our creativity in doing so. One of the interesting things about owning a distillery is that people all of a sudden become experts in the alcohol business, usually expressed as “You know, what you should make is …” and this brings us to today’s topic:
Just because you can make it, should you?
When we set out to come up with a new Spirit, for Vivacity Spirits, (How about: A Liver and Onion flavored Vodka!? Or a spirit made from melons?) we first look to ourselves. Is this something we would like to drink? (Oh hell no and maybe?) Is there a market for the Spirit and how big is it? (Highly unlikely and very small if it does exist and Unknown and unknown) Does this new Spirit already exist in one form or another or are we introducing it to the world? (No and Unknown) Will there be a steady supply of the ingredients and will it be at a decent price point? (Probably and the ingredients are seasonal) These are just a few questions we have to think about before we can take a step forward.
Coming up with a new Spirit is a fun and daunting task. The fun part is that we get to create something new and exciting. The daunting part is coming up with something new and exciting. When we first started, we were keeping bees and Caitlin noticed that there were very few Spirits made with honey. She saw an opportunity and started thinking of all the cool Spirits we could make. In less than two months it seemed that every major distillery came out with a honey flavored something or other. Caitlin was devastated. You have to remember that there are very few truly new ideas out there.
The problem for a small distillery, such as ourselves, is that coming out with something truly unique also means that you will have to educate the drinking public to its virtues and why they should drink your product rather than one of the thousands of other Spirits out there that they are more familiar with, a daunting task indeed. Of course you don’t have to come up with something completely new. You can always make a variation of an existing Spirit. This can be easier. In our case, we wanted a gin (lots of those out there) that was based around the native botanicals found in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest (a variation on a new twist) particularly hops (definitely a new twist). It met the criteria for the first questions we ask ourselves. Would we drink this? (Oh yes please!) Is there an existing market for this type of Spirit and how large is it? (Yes and pretty darn large) Will there be a steady supply of ingredients? (Also a big yes and the price point was going to work too) So we moved forward. You can get people to try something new at least once. The trick is to make something so good that they will buy it again.
I guess it really just comes down to whether it is worth it to make something, just because we can. We could build an automobile that is fueled by 30 year old Scotch, too, but I don’t think the market for that one is very large either.