Published on 05-03-2015


In an ideal world, our products will speak for themselves, value would be determined by quality and taste alone, and customers would pay accordingly.

In an ideal world …

But the world is not ideal, or fair, and we are faced with this little thing called Marketing and Hype that plays a role in determining the price of our products – or at least what customers are willing to pay.

Many different aspects contribute to this perceived value of a product.

The first of course will be packaging, which extends to the container or box (if applicable), the bottle, the bottle closure and the label. All these not only need to complement one another in terms of cost, quality, look and feel, but they need to work together practically as well. This may sometimes be more of a challenge than you might think – specifically as bottle tops and closures are not standardized.

It is unfortunately true that the bottles available from local manufacturers are limited in terms of range and quality, and that really attractive bottles need to be sourced from foreign suppliers in Italy, France and China. Closures and Labels are more easily found, but again it is important for all three to match and complement each other.

Secondly we look at colour. Not colour as in brand colours or bottle colours, but product colour. In years gone by a consumer could walk into a liquor store or bar and he could tell, from a distance, the age of each bottle purely based on its colour (as naturally transferred through barrel aging). However, modern day products are artificially coloured using concentrated caramel colouring and the darker the better, as a darker colour implies a longer aging process and therefore a more expensive product.

Now – if we were to look at the product itself and what makes for a good or “better” product, mouth feel is one of the first aspects that play a role. Our primitive brains are just programmed that way, that a product that is smooth and thick is somehow more luxurious. And these traits can be artificially added to a product through the use of either Vegetable Glycerine or Invert Sugar.

Finally you need to consider your brand identity. This includes your label design, your logo, your fonts. But most importantly, the one aspect that can make or break your product or brand, your story.

A good story sells.

A good story motivates a buyer.

A good story is remembered.

A good story is easy to market.


A brand that has all of the above in place will be successful, even if they only produce a mediocre product. One look at our liquor store shelves will bear out this assertion.

But not all craft distilleries have the marketing budget to capitalise on the subliminal mind altering powers of mass media. So what do we do then?

Let’s take a look at Breckenridge Distillery in USA. Ever heard of them? Don’t feel bad – most people haven’t, but Breckenridge does a lot right in terms of their marketing, and in their target area they are VERY well known.

Firstly their website – clean, fun, easy to use, informative.

Secondly – what makes them unique? What’s their story? Easy one in this case. They claim to be (and probably are) the World’s Highest Distillery, and being surrounded by all that snow on top of the Rocky Mountains, they use water from melted snow for “mineral infused perfection”.  As all our distillers know – minerals are the last thing you want in your final product as it will cause a VERY ugly sediment to form in your bottle, but customers believe it. “Pure as driven snow …” They were programmed to believe it from an early age, and the Distillery makes use of that belief as a marketing tool.

The owners of Breckenridge are also not afraid to put themselves out there – radio interviews, TV spots, special appearances. And all of this is available to view and read and listen too on their website, meaning they get the most mileage possible from each and every bit of media coverage.

Signature cocktails is another useful tool (used by many craft distilleries) where Mixologists are brought in to develop a cocktail (or range of cocktails) using your craft spirits as a base. Not only does this give you an opportunity to expand you market in fringe groups you might not have considered as potential clients, but you also add perceived value to your product.

Now, not only does Breckenridge have their Distillery up in the mountain, and their tasting room in downtown Breckenridge, but their mobile bar, The Burro, is extremely popular as well for festivals, private functions, etc.

Everything they do is aimed at giving people access to their product, creating awareness, promoting interaction – and it works for them.

Always remember that everything you do needs to tie in together to create a complete picture of your product and your vision. Only then will your product and business succeed.

And if you are a Home Distiller – maybe considering going commercial in the future – remember that everything you do now and which happens now is part of your story, so make notes, take pictures, record. Even if you never go the commercial route, you will still have a collection of fond memories for the future.

So Keep on Distilling !!!