With legal home distilling on the horizon, I thought a few tips on how to improve your Home made Spirits drinkability were in order.

Start with a good recipe: My mantra is, “Garbage in garbage out”. You can’t take something that is vile and turn it into something amazing.

Believe it or not, learning how to cook and I mean real cooking not plop a can of something in a dish and microwave it. Cooking involves following a recipe, whether it is your own or someone else’s. Knowing how ingredients work together is prime in making tasty things to eat and drink or you can learn to brew beer, which has many of the same attributes as cooking with the bonus of teaching you how to ferment and to be sanitary as well.

Quality equipment: The better the equipment the easier it is to do the job. The easiest way to start is to buy your still (look online). You can make your own but be aware of the dangers of using certain materials in constructing your still.

Barrel ageing: For certain Spirits, it’s in the barrel. Not all Spirits are aged in barrels. Those that are traditionally barrel aged need not be if you don’t want. The barrel ageing gives it color, additional flavor and smoothness.

Love and care:  Like a flower, with a bit of love and care you can make some delicious Spirits. It’s about paying attention to the details.

Filtering Media: Yes; it’s true that you can take bottom shelf vodka and make it smoother by running it through a charcoal filter; however, it would be extremely hard to make it into a silky-smooth sipping Vodka. Not to mention the time commitment involved.

Education: Take a distilling class and read read read. There is a lot of information out there about fermentation and distilling. Check on the internet, go to the library (it’s a big building full of books you can borrow for free. Most towns have one) and there are classes available. There are also quite a few distilleries out there that you can ask questions to. If available, take the tour and ask questions. My suggestion is to read and learn as much as you can then you can go to your local distillery and ask pertinent questions. If you go in knowing nothing then you risk wasting everyone’s time.

Short Cut: To get a jump start on your distilling you can always buy a couple bottles of wine or cider (non-hard cider will need to be fermented first) and distill it. This will allow you to learn the basics and experiment without the added cost of fermentation equipment.

Note: Do not try to use beer as a short cut. Beer has hops in it, which is a bittering agent, and your finished product will be bitter because the hops oil is very volatile and comes over throughout the distillation process.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Distilling. Cheers!

AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

During the course of my work I get people who ask about different aspects of Spirits, so today’s blog post is a very basic refresher for Spirit Types. This is by no means a comprehensive list. It is intended to give a general overview of the most common Spirits on the market. If you want the official site for Spirits, go to http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/bam/chapter4.pdf

Vodka- Can be made from anything and must be distilled to at least 95% ABV; then it is referred to as a “Neutral Spirit” because the original product, used in the fermentation, is no longer reflected in the Spirit. Contrary to popular belief, Vodka was first made using Wheat. Potato Vodka came later and was frowned upon because potatoes were peasant food (unless you were a peasant of course).

Gin- Is made with a Neutral Spirit flavored with, predominantly, juniper. The difference between gins is in the rest of the recipe. Gins are divided into two general categories, Genever and London Dry (this is not the official designation but the common designations for gin)

Whiskey- Is Spirits distilled from a fermented mash of grain at less than 95% ABV. Think of it as an un-hopped beer. Included in the whiskey category are: Bourbon, Rye, Wheat, Malt, Corn, Light, Blended, Single Malt, Scotch, Irish and Canadian (there are actually more subsets but you get the idea).

Brandy- A Spirit made from a fruit wine. Included are: Fruit brandy, Pisco, Applejack, Kirschwasser, Slivovitz, Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados and Grappa.

Rum- A Spirit made from cane sugar and/or cane sugar products

Mezcal- Spirits made from the Mezcal plant

Tequila- Spirits made from, predominantly, the “Blue” Agave plant, a subset of the Mezcal family.

Liqueur/Cordial- Flavored Spirits with a high sugar/lower alcohol profile. The list is long.

This is just the basics folks. If you think something was left out or that the list at http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/bam/chapter4.pdf is incorrect, please feel free to contact the federal government and lodge your complaint. I am sure they will listen attentively to your proclamations. Cheers!


AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

Over and over again we see that everyday life and owning a distillery shadow each other (I think this number is actually low). I have been hearing a few things, lately, that really bring this into perspective.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step:

We’ve all heard this and it is pretty obvious, wouldn’t you say? Except that it is amazing how many people talk themselves out of the first step because they look at the end goal and tell themselves, “I can’t do that!”. Which brings me to my favorite Henry Ford quote: “If you think you can or can’t do something, you are correct”. Believe it or not, the adventure and knowledge gained is in the journey not the goal. The goal is the excuse for the journey. Just take one step at a time and keep on taking steps.

Shoot for the B+ not the A:

I know I am going to get some flak for this one but look at it this way; you are a baseball player and every time you are up to bat you swing for the fence. It’s either a home run or a strike out (Babe Ruth was also the strike out king) or you can just try to hit the ball and get on base safely (you’ll get on base safely a lot more frequently and have a few home runs to boot). This reminds me of another favorite quote (I will attribute this to Rich Roll because I heard it from him first, although I believe it is used in AA quite a bit) “Strive for progress not perfection” Don’t expect to be perfect in everything you do just strive to do better, if you make a mistake get up, evaluate what happened, make adjustments and try again.

So you’re saying to yourself, “If I wanted self-help jargon I would look it up somewhere, just give me the answers!” People, these are the answers. Contrary to popular thought there is no easy way. Do the hard work and you will reap the rewards. Besides think of the last time you were given the easy way, you probably didn’t really appreciate it as much as when you earned it.

When most people look at a business or person and they decide they want to do that. What they are thinking is that they want the finished product. When they learn how much time and effort went in to getting to their present place, they balk, complain and generally make excuses. They want the “easy” way and they don’t see the problems associated with having that business or lifestyle.

In our case, we wanted a distillery and for our sins we got one. Now we get to work 7 days a week for as many hours as we can squeeze in with minimal pay (minimum wage would be a huge raise). We now have sleepless nights (anxiety or if the alarm goes off, generally at 3 or 4 am, one of us gets to get up from our comfortable bed, go turn it off and deal with the police, who have answered the alarm call). We also have the knowledge that if something is going wrong with the company we are to blame and we get to fix it.

On the plus side, however, is that we own our own company and are the Captains of our destiny. We get to bask in the glory when someone gushes over our Spirits and when the company makes it big we will be the beneficiaries of all that hard work. We will have earned every penny and we will be grateful for it all.

There are no guarantees in life, except Death and Taxes, and a business can fail for many different reasons. In the end though, personally, I think it is worth the effort. 


AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

To quote the great Bob Dylan, “The times, they are a changing.” It would seem that legal home distilling is in our near future.

There is a bill being crafted for congress that includes the stipulation for home distilling and, in my opinion, it is a long time in coming. We have been allowed to make beer and wine at home for a long time now and it is time to take a giant step back in time and allow for home distillation again. There are, however, a few things I think are worth mentioning about home distilling.

The first thing people will probably think (not) is that home distilling will hurt the commercial distilling industry. Being allowed to make beer and wine at home hasn’t seemed to hurt the breweries and wineries and I don’t expect it will hurt distilleries either. It’s not as easy as you think to make good Spirits.

There are some serious dangers associated with distilling:

Making your own still: Unless you are very knowledgeable about soldering and the physics of a still I would advise against making your own still.

One of the greatest dangers is the use of regular lead based solder. We have all heard the stories of moonshine making people go blind and such. Sadly some of these are very true. If you are intent on making your own still, do your homework. I would suggest contacting your local welder, plumber or boiler-maker and pick their brain or better yet buy a still on line.

http://www.hillbillystills.com/ makes very good stills in various sizes. There may be more people out there who make stills but I am unaware of them at the moment. Our first still was a “Hillbilly Still”. It was a 25 gallon still with a 4 plate column. It works great! We now use it for experimental distilling (having moved up to a 125 gallon Vendome still http://vendomecopper.com/ )

Fire danger: There are many ways to heat your still. The easiest is by direct fire. It is also the most dangerous because alcohol vapor and open flames don’t mix or should I say they mix all too well with, often, cataclysmic results.

If you don’t assemble your still properly you can get a pressure build up and not only can your still explode from the pressure build up but then the alcohol vapor can catch on fire and alcohol fires are very hard to put out.

Always have a proper fire extinguisher on hand, as this can save your house or your life.

Ingredients: The general rule of thumb is that if it’s edible going in its drinkable coming out. The big danger is that you want to be wary of adding “wood” to your ferment. As these can make very bad compounds that can hurt you

Learn how to distill: There is a lot of information out there on distilling. Educate yourself! Knowing the basics can make your life so much easier. On the one hand it’s as simple as boiling water and yet there is so much more.

So much more: If you are going to distill you are going to have to learn not only about distilling but also beer brewing and wine making, depending on what you are going to make. I am going to guess that most people are going to want to make Whiskey (classic moonshine stuff). Whiskey is basically made from beer (a grain based beverage) without the hops. If you distill beer and think that you will make a drinkable whiskey, think again. The hops in beer offset the super sweetness of all the grains. Hop oil also volatilizes very easily and will come over in a disproportionate amount to make you a very bitter whiskey. The general rule of thumb is garbage in garbage out or as I like to say, “You can’t polish a turd!” If you don’t make a good wash you won’t come out with good spirits. This also applies to wines and ciders, etc.

Learn to cook: If you know how to cook (and I don’t mean the boil water and add a package of something or throw it in the microwave type of cooking) you should be able to design good spirits.

 Time, Effort and Money: In the end you will need equipment for all the stages of making your Spirits. It will take time to make everything and of course you will need money to pay for everything. If you are the hobbyist extraordinaire you will love the process. For most everyone else it will be too much time, effort and money. That’s why you don’t usually see home brewers drinking only their home brew (I do know a gentleman who drinks only his own beer, but then again, he owns the brewery).

Another note: Be aware that your insurance company may not cover damage from a home distilling set up. Cheers!


AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

When I look back at my life I realize what good fortune I have had.  I have only broken one bone, my arm. I have sliced and diced various parts of my body through the years (is it good or bad that the ER docs know your name?) and had all the “standard” illnesses, without any long term ill effects (despite what my wife says). I have dodged a few bullets in my day. Some of this I attribute to living a pretty healthy lifestyle; some is just good genes and most is just dumb luck. Along the way I met an amazing woman who liked me enough to marry me and we started a business together. All in all life is good.

But there comes a time when you have to give back or pay forward some of the “good luck” you have been the recipient of.  We try to help people with our personal time, with business information we have garnered, we donate blood and we donate to various causes.

The one thing I think people should really look into is mentoring others. It’s not about showing off how good you are or how well off you are it’s about helping people and, call me selfish that makes me feel good.

One of our favorite causes is the fight against Muscular Sclerosis. We participate in the MS Bike Rides, which we have been doing for about 9 years. We have friends and family who have been stricken with this debilitating disease, so we ride for them in hopes that, one day, a cure can be found.

I am asking you to help us; either join our bicycling team, Team Slugfish

https://secure3.convio.net/nmss/site/TRR/Bike/ORCBikeEvents/469497256?pg=utype&fr_id=24766  ,

or with a tax deductible donation to our ride.

Chris - https://secure3.convio.net/nmss/site/Donation2;jsessionid=CBFBEB796664B250DED49BDE528FB990.app310a?idb=376835127&df_id=50100&50100.donation=form1&FR_ID=24766&PROXY_ID=2648060&PROXY_TYPE=20

We will be hosting a rest stop for the Sunday ride at the distillery. Please come visit and cheer on the riders. We will be open from 8am to 5pm on Sunday, August 2nd

Thank you for your support and we will see you on the road August 1st and 2nd.



AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

As you are getting ready to open your distillery (or any business really) you need to look and make sure that “your” name isn’t already being used. This can involve calling a trade mark lawyer, expensive yes, and it can save you lots and lots of headaches and money.

The first step is to think of a name for your new business (or product). This is usually one of the first things people do anyways.

Become familiar with the basics of trademark law (http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-getting-started/trademark-basics ). A little knowledge can go a long way

Do an internet search using a few different search engines as these may turn up different results.

Go to the USPTO website (http://www.uspto.gov/trademark) and go to the search trademark database.

Warning: Do not ask your lawyer friend or your business lawyer for an official  opinion on trademark law, if it isn’t their specialty, as their opinion is as much informed as anybody else's (this one is from experience).

Once you get the “all’s clear” for your name, apply for the trademark and you are on your way.

Warning 2: You can use a name without trademarking it, however, this can leave you open to someone trademarking “your” name later and you having to “lawyer up” to fight it out (this can be problematic if that someone has a lot of money behind them) or if you are using someone else’s trademark and you have to change your name a year or more into your venture (again this one from experience).

One thing to be aware of is that there are different categories for business types (again see http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-getting-started/trademark-basics ) . So it is possible to have the same name as someone but for completely different products (e.g. “Super-Good” brand Spirits VS “Super-Good” brand asphalt products) You can apply for a trademark in all categories, thus owning the name outright (think Apple or Microsoft) but you will probably need lots of $$$.


AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

Ah, another parable. In life you will be given challenges. If you look at these as insurmountable problems that are getting in your way, then you are going to have a hard time dealing with life. On the other hand if you look at these challenges as challenges or opportunities to solve a puzzle, you are going to have a very creative and exciting life; because life will throw you curve balls when you least expect it.

You show up to work and find out that you have no water; a pump breaks down in the middle of a project or things just aren’t going your way. You can get mad, scream and curse all you want but it won’t help. You could curl up in a ball and whimper because you’re having a bad morning, day, life. None of these is really a solution (although, I’ll admit, screaming and swearing do happen on those days).

What to do? First take a deep breath, center yourself and put on your problem solver hat. It’s game time! And when you solve that problem either write it down or remember it because that problem will probably come up again or someone is going to ask you about something like it and you will have the answer all ready (won’t you be the fountain of knowledge then). As for a broken pump, make sure you have a spare, a work around or your plumber’s number handy. To quote “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”

“Don’t Panic”

The most important thing is to be flexible and agile in your thoughts and abilities. When starting a project sometimes it can pay off to do a “worst case scenario” drill. This can be as simple as knowing where something important is (fire extinguisher, Band-Aids or the shut off switch for a piece of equipment) or it can cover serious matters (where is the phone to call  911 or is there someone in the group who is trained in CPR?). Believe it or not this is extra important for things you have done a million times before and therefore do on automatic pilot (is the cordless phone in its cradle? Is the First-Aid kit stocked?) It’s only paranoia when nothing goes wrong. When things go badly you are prepared.

Sometimes it’s the little things that get you. I have a friend who was going into a large, swimming pool sized; pit to work on a piece of equipment. He was wearing a respirator, he was hot and cranky and he was ready to get the work done. Just before he went down someone asked if the air had been tested in the pit; a small, very important, thing that could have cost my friend their life.

So, again, don’t panic, take a deep breath, put your thinking cap on and figure out the puzzle (and write down the solution for future reference). Cheers!


AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

 Everyone wants to be the Captain of their own destiny. Why else would you want to start your own business? But there are caveats about starting your business. I could have titled this “Finding Your Pain Threshold” because starting your own business can be very uncomfortable at times. Having your own business gives you a lot of freedom while at the same time you are a slave to it. The fact is, it is yours and you are in the driver’s seat. The time you put into your business is generally indicative of the success of your business.

Unless you come into your business with a lot of money behind you, money is going to always be a factor in your decision making. This reminds me of a joke from the winery business and could easily apply to owning a distillery.

Q-How do you make a small fortune in the winery business?

A-Start with a large fortune.

So if you haven’t just sold your 1950’s beachfront bungalow in Southern California, received a golden parachute retirement, won the lottery or sold some of your IPO Microsoft or Google stock you will need to have some sort of cash flow. I guess this is a long way of saying, “Don’t quit your day job!”  Your day job is what’s going to keep the new business afloat and allow you to eat. This means, of course, that you will be doing double duty, work your job and work your business. It is also a new way to look at the job you want to leave. Instead of being “stuck” in the job it is what is going to allow you to flourish in your new endeavor. In time you will be able to transition to your business.

Now saying this, I realize I am telling you to play it safe. You could quit your job, work your butt off and make things work or get a bunch of investors. I guess it’s up to you to evaluate your situation and make the call.

As a new business owner you will work longer and harder for less money than you ever thought possible and you will love it, because it is yours.

AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

In business as in life, find a mentor. This should be someone who can help guide you through the rough seas that are the business world and the world in general.

What is a mentor? In a nut shell a mentor is someone who gives you their opinion on certain situations and what course of action you should take. Now a lot of people reading this are thinking, “Well, I just love giving people my opinion and telling them what they should do. I must be an awesome mentor.”

A mentor does not tell people what to do. They respond to a person’s questions and give them different options, from the benefit of their experience; the person can then act upon it as they choose.

The nice thing is that you can be mentored and be a mentor yourself. You need guidance in certain things and through your experiences you can offer guidance to others. It’s all in the giving. Remember, when the tide comes in all boats float.

You can have more than one mentor.  Rarely will one person have all the answers. Find different people with different life skills and pick their brains. You will be surprised at how people will be happy to drop pearls of wisdom, as long as they don’t feel you are wasting their time.

AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

I have often been asked, “How did you decide to open a distillery?” My usual answer is, “I got thirsty.” The truth of the matter is that my wife and I are both very creative and have very different skill sets. So we set off to find something we could do that would let us express ourselves and combine our differing talents. It also had to be something that we could share with our friends and families. We started thinking about opening a small Mom and Pop restaurant. Can anyone say, “Italian”? (I think I would be our best customer. Mmm lasagna). How about opening a Coffee House? (See previous comment). How about a Bar? All these seemed like possibilities but none really took our fancy.

We know many of the restaurant and tavern owners and knew that the margins on a restaurant were pretty slim and most kept their business’ afloat selling alcohol.  So that meant it would be an Italian restaurant with a bar attached. Again, we liked the idea but were not in love with it. Then one day my wife asked me, “How about a distillery?” We looked at each other and laughed. That was illegal! (Wasn’t it?). After a few days of looking at various buildings and discussing their respective merits and shortcomings, we came back to the concept of a distillery.

We did some research and discovered that indeed, it was perfectly legal. Now we had to look at how feasible a distillery would be. We went online to look if there were any distilling classes available and to our surprise there were quite a few, but which one to choose? Classes ranged from a day or two to a week long and the prices varied greatly, too. In the end the decision was made in favor of the week long class from ADI (The American Distilling Institute) being held at a distillery in Petaluma, CA. We figured it would give us the best overview of operating a distillery. It was, however, not inexpensive. The good news was that meals and lodging were included in the price and we would get a small price break because we would be sharing one room.

The class was amazing! It covered so much territory; from bottles, closures and labels to legal aspects, pumps, fillers and visiting working distilleries. Distillation was covered only briefly because, quite frankly, you can cover the basics of distillation in about 10 minutes.

Our fellow students ranged from a farmer who wanted to do something with his surplus crops, a Pepsi Co. rep who was looking to expand his horizons, a Diageo flavor chemist who wanted to know more about the distilling process, a pair who already had a product on the market but were contracting it out and wanted to take over the reins and us who were seeking information.  

What I found even more amazing was that I learned as much from the other students as I did from the classes. Everyone brought something to the table from their personal experiences. By the end of the class we decided that, yes, we could do this and we were on our way. Cheers!


AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

I haven’t taken a poll so I’m not sure how other distilleries come up with their recipes for their Spirits but this is how we generally go about it.

We drink a lot! Wow such a succinct and to the point blog post.

If it were only that easy! The first thing we ask ourselves is, “What do we want to make (next)?, “Is this something we want to drink ourselves?” and “Is there a market for it?” The second question, I feel, being the most important.

Once we have decided on a Spirit, let’s say Gin, we then go out on a fact finding mission and “see” what’s available in the market. (See the easy statement) If you think all of a certain type of Spirit tastes the same, you need to go out and sample more. By tasting several different brands of a specific Spirit you start to see some trends and a few outliers. In the case of Gin, Juniper is the dominant flavor.

Once we get a good grasp of the available profiles out there, we start to build a list of what we liked and didn’t like and then start to build our Spirits profile.  Of course, top of the list is it has to be sipping smooth, always.

In the case of our Native Gin, Caitlin had an idea she wanted to explore and immediately went searching for pertinent information. She had made tinctures of botanicals and played “Mad Scientist”. In the end she had created 13 different Gin recipes and I had to evaluate them (sometimes you just have to take one for the team). I spent the next few days pouring over the experimental Gins, taking notes. I had run into a problem, though, she had made 13 really distinct, good Gins. How to choose? So as any good scientist would do, we used “lab rats”, in this case also known as Mom, Dad, Steven and Julia. Yes, our family and friends are our lab rats.

I set down some rules of engagement and turned them loose. By the end of the night we had pared 13 down to 5. At this point I distilled small batches of all 5 of the finalists and we started the sampling process again. This time we pared 5 down to 2 and we were stuck. The two gins were different but we really liked both of them. What to do? (Cue ominous music, to bring tension to the situation). Then Caitlin has a brilliant idea. We will combine the two recipes for the final product. In the end we had created a very unique Gin our Native Gin and it’s a winner! (Time for a Native Gin and Tonic)


AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

The burning question of the day is whether to mix Vivacity Spirits or to sip them straight. My definitive answer is…it’s your drink, make it how you want. At tastings we get a lot of people who taste our products and then inform us that they are too good to be used in a mixed drink. My reply to that is it’s like tasting a vine ripened tomato or a perfectly ripe apple from the tree and declaring that it’s too good to put into a salad or into a pie. A quality spirit is going to make a quality drink.  Otherwise you can use lower quality Spirits, bury them in juice and you get to play the “Is-there-alcohol-in-this?” game and by the time you figure out that there is indeed alcohol in the punch you are generally pretty drunk and you also have just drank your weight in sugar. That can be a very bad combination!

At Vivacity Spirits our Spirits are designed to be so smooth you can sip them neat. This also means that if you do choose to mix them you only have to accent them with a mixer, thus giving you a well-balanced drink. I mean how can you turn down an amazing Native Gin and tonic or perhaps you might want to try a Corvallis Blunderbuss (equal parts Vivacity Spirits Turkish Coffee Liqueur and 4 Spirits Bourbon). Cheers!


AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

Have you ever had one of those days when it seems like everything is going wrong? You come into work and there is a dark ominous cloud hanging over your head? Boy I sure have!

There are a few ways to deal with this; one is to get right back into bed and start over in an hour or so. It’s not always practical but it can help. Another is to charge on with the day and have it all fall to pieces, frustrating you, as you try to make things work; this is the usual path. My way of dealing with the bad day is to take a break. When things are going to hell in a hand basket and nothing I try is working then I attempt to step away from the problem and do something else (i.e. going for a walk). Taking your active mind off a problem lets your subconscious mind work on the problem without your conscious mind getting in the way. Usually by the time I get back to the task I am looking at it with fresh eyes and things usually go much better. On the occasions where things don’t get better, or maybe keep getting worse, I will call it a day because nothing is going to get done properly and I will mess things up that I will just have to undo the next day. Most times, however, you have to stay the course and take the day head on. Those are the suck days.

We had to deal with Tech support the other day and it was not pretty. What should have taken 10 minutes took 3 hours and Caitlin was ready to kill by the end of it. There was no walking away from that one; or when something is going wrong with a ferment, that’s when Caitlin the scientist comes in to save the day, however, if the alarm company calls at three in the morning I get to roll out of bed and deal with it.

 Conversely, we had an FDA inspector come in to interview us about our processes (should we worry?). The gentleman was delightful to work with. He was friendly and made the whole process almost pleasant. (Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, in case his boss’ read our blog)

At the end of the day, all was made well by us sitting on the front porch, in the sunshine preferably, and enjoying a nice glass of Vivacity Spirits. She -a Native Gin and Tonic. He -a Corvallis Blunderbuss (Vivacity Spirits Turkish Coffee Liqueur with equal parts 4 Spirits Bourbon). Cheers!

AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

One of my pet peeves is when I go into a liquor store, I see someone doing a tasting, usually a good looking woman in a tight dress, and they know absolutely nothing about the product they are tasting you on. I have even seen them completely ignore customers as they walk by.

A friend said they walked by a table five times, looking at the table, before the taster asked if they wanted to try a sample. Some are so busy texting or playing on their phones, they might as well not even be there. A poster of a good looking woman and a self-serve table would be a better use of resources. There are a few exceptions to this, as I have seen the pretty woman doing a tasting and they had an intimate knowledge of the business, the products and the processes. Never assume.

Here are a few signs that the person doing the tasting does not work for the company. They have their nose buried in their phone. They are not actively engaging the customers or the staff in conversation. They have no knowledge of the product in general. They come into the store and have to borrow everything for the tasting (that one is for the liquor store employees).

 We joke that the other distilleries send out good looking women to do their tastings while we, a woman owned distillery, send out our stable of good looking men, who know about the products and the processes involved in making them, because on any given day they are part of the process. It started out that way because there were only two of us that made up the business and the distiller was doing most of the tasting demos. Our first intern/employee was Alex, a woman, who later went on to graduate school then we hired our first full time employee, our marketing guy Sam, who now does most of the tastings. It just seemed to go on from there. We chose knowledge (and rugged good looks) over just good looks because I think people want to know about what they are drinking, the company and about the people who are making it. When was the last time you got to talk to the person who actually made your Spirits? Yes, our distiller still goes out and does tastings. Cheers!


AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

I run into people who are amazed at the quality of our products at such a reasonable price point. They gush how awesome and special it is and then they say that it should be used only for special occasions. Thank you and you are mistaken. Yes I think our products are pretty amazing, are priced so that the average person can enjoy amazingly good spirits without breaking the bank and the price point is exactly why our Spirits should be your daily Spirits, not just for “special occasions”. I also get the statement that since they are sipping smooth it would be a crime to mix them. So they will get a cheaper Spirit for mixing. Again, thank you and you are mistaken. Yes our Spirits are extremely smooth and that’s also why they make an excellent mixed drink. If you have to burry your alcohol in mixer to make it tolerable, I think something is fundamentally wrong with your concept of enjoying a beverage. Now, I enjoy sitting in front of a roaring fire, sipping on a fine Spirit, with a good friend and having an intense conversation as much as anyone else but I also enjoy an amazing Native gin and tonic (or 2) while walking through my mother-in-law’s garden. What I’m saying is, to put it bluntly, you can’t polish a turd.

The other thing I hear from people is that they are going to a party and they wouldn’t think of bringing such a fine Spirit as ours to share with their friends. They would horde it for themselves. Do you ever wonder why your friends don’t bring anything decent to drink to your parties? Again, at $23.95, our Vodka is a great value (especially when we get compared to Grey Goose at $35.95 or Belvedere at $30.95). I say to you, share the tastiness! Be the one with taste at your next gathering and bring a little Vivacity to the crowd. Cheers!

AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

Once my wife and I decided a distillery was the way to go, then all we needed was to blaze a path to success. Everyone wants to make their own whiskey (oh, so sexy!), but a decent whiskey takes time to age. So what were we going to do in the mean time? We didn’t have the resources to put whiskey away and wait until it was ready. In a flash of brilliance, we decided that we would make Vodka and then Gin and best of all neither required aging. We were so impressed with ourselves. It wasn’t until a month or so later that we realized we had just reinvented the wheel. It would seem that for quite a few micro-distilleries, the standard business path is to start with vodka then make gin, all the while putting whiskey into barrels. This says something about doing your research. Of course, being ignorant of such things can work in your favor. If we knew “everyone” took this path, would we have balked in our resolve to open a distillery? This makes me think of one of my favorite questions for business or advertising students, “How do you enter and succeed in a market that has already been flooded with your type of product?” But that thought is for another post.

AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

            Vivacity Spirits works on a team aspect. Granted, we are pretty small so it is usually “all hands on deck” at work and why our business cards read “Owners, distillers and everything else”. If you think about it any business is a team effort. The Captain of our team is Caitlin.

            In the micro-distilling world, I feel that we are all one big team. I am not as interested in another micro-distilleries market share as I am in Absolute’s or Kahlua’s market share (so much larger). There is an old adage that all boats rise with the tide, which makes us sad that Organic Nation had closed. I feel there has to be a certain mass of distilleries to make this a viable endeavor. I tip my hat to Hood River Distillery, Oregon Distillers permit #1, who helped to forge the way for those of us who followed.

            I feel that people have forgotten how to be happy for others. Now don’t get me wrong, I want to succeed as much as the next person, however, I love to see people with Oregon made products in their hands instead of the mega distilleries products. I also feel that by us supporting other Oregon distilleries makes us more attractive in the eyes of the people (no one likes a whiner). Cheers!

AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

In our everyday life we judge and are judged solely on appearance. In the Pacific Northwest we have a very casual attitude towards dress codes to say the least. Sometimes this is not a bad thing other times I think it is awful.

I have a friend who is a software engineer. At one time he was working from home; he was getting ready to code and was dressed pretty nicely. I asked why he was dressed “for the office” when he was home alone. His response was, yes, he could code in his underwear but he felt that by dressing professionally he acted and felt more professional and that it was reflected in his work.

I have taken this attitude to heart. I am dressed “for work” every day and I will admit that dressing well makes me feel a bit better (Do the clothes make the man?) and when someone drops in for a visit they are greeted by, hopefully, someone pleasing to their eyes with all the information they could want (sometimes more than they want). Dressing well also keeps in line with our image. We produce very well crafted Spirits for the sophisticated palate and to be dressed in cut off sweats and a stained t-shirt would not go over very well.  On the other hand if we produced “moonshine”, people would be more inclined to expect a dressed down person making the product.

It all comes down to personal preference but I would suggest you try it sometime. You might be surprised how your message is accepted more readily when you are dressed more professionally. Cheers!  

AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

When people tour our facilities they are always blown away by how beautiful our big still, Jules, is (so am I actually). Working on Jules is a pleasure; you load him up, make sure the valves are in the correct orientation, then turn on the steam and wait and that’s where the trouble can begin.

The theory is that while the still is warming up, anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour plus, I have free time to do other important tasks such as paperwork, washing and labeling bottles (we still do this by hand), answer emails, you get the point. The problem is that time is relative. How many of you have got so involved doing something (videos on YouTube maybe) only to realize that a couple of hours have passed? This is problematic when you have a still warming up and you don’t pay attention. I have, on more than one occasion, snapped back into focus and rushed into the back room only to find alcohol spilling on the floor. That’s literally money down the drain and I feel like an idiot too.

I hear people bragging how they can multi-task so well and, quite frankly, I don’t believe them. I guess listening to music on your i-Pod or texting and walking is technically multi-tasking and what could be easier? (Check out YouTube videos of distracted texters) I feel if you are doing 3 things at once you are probably doing 3 things poorly because you are not focusing on any one thing or you are focusing on what you are doing that you neglect the other 2 things you were supposed to be doing. For some tasks this is not super critical (doing a task and listening to music. For fun try singing the lyrics to the music and concentrate on your task).

 I have solved this problem, partially, by setting the timer on my i-phone. I have a general idea on the time available to me until I have to pay attention to the still again and I set the alarm using the claxon alarm, which you can’t miss hearing. Again the problem arises when I either forget to set the alarm or set it for too long of a time. Ignoring your equipment for too long could have some dire consequences, alcohol vapor in the air or a pump running dry. In fact just a minute ago I turned my back on the still for just a second, honest, it was just for a second to talk to my landlord and the temperature jumped about 10 degrees and started pushing Rum distillate out the Parrot, very hard. I caught it before it got bad.

 On the other hand though, due to providence perhaps, on rare occasions forgetting to turn off a piece of equipment, say a filtering pump, can result in something pretty darn good. Outcomes like these are very rare; someone has to win the lottery. Some people would say I am being paranoid. I say I am being cautious because of the potential consequences. Either way, I keep a close eye on my equipment. Cheers!

AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann

In our lives we have a tendency to name inanimate objects. As we spend more time with said objects and learn their particular quirks we tend to anthropomorphize them, thus giving them names, how many of you have names for your cars? There are various ways for naming your equipment, some are related a quirk or noise it makes, it could be based off a descriptor of the object itself or it can be theme based. There are no rules here. I believe one of the reasons to name something is to differentiate one piece of equipment from another. As an example, our first two small fermenters, that are somewhat egg shaped, instantly became Mork and Mindy (younger people don’t get the reference) and we were tempted to name the next fermenter Mearth but instead chose Heckle and Jeckle, our delivery driver suggested this one. I am thinking the next two will have to be Fred and Ginger (sorry Flintstones fans). Other equipment we have named include our first still (25 gallon capacity) T.S.Elliott, the TS stands for tiny still and our large still instantly became Jules, for Jules Verne because with the off-set column it reminded us of something out of “20,000 Leagues under the Sea”. Our labeler is just the labeler and the bottle filler is also just the bottle filler, not everything gets a name; although, if you see me hauling boxes with a hand cart just remember it’s not a dolly it’s an action figure.


AuthorCaitlin Prueitt & Chris Neumann