Support Local. Drink Local.

We live in a time where it’s incredibly easy and increasingly popular to order online, spend cash at corporate chains or supermarkets, and shop abroad from the comfort of our couch. This hasn’t always been the case; we could go back just a few decades and see that buying local was the only option our community had. I’m not arguing that technological advances in the way we shop is a bad thing, because it’s quite the opposite. It’s handy to find what you’re shopping for without having to throw on pants and drive to the store, but we should still support locally whenever possible. Mom and pop shops, small enterprises, and our local economy need all the support they can get, especially now post pandemic. Craft distilleries are a fantastic way to buy local and they need our business.

What’s a craft distillery?

We’ve all heard of Captain Morgan, Absolut, and Maker’s Mark. These are large format distilleries that pump out sizable volumes of product with their massive advertising budgets and line liquor store shelves all around the world. As much as we enjoy the big brands and household names, we can’t forget about the little guy.

Smaller format operations, otherwise known as “craft distilleries” are popping up everywhere. They produce smaller batches and are generally exclusive to the region, much like their craft beer brewing brethren. Their products could likely be found in the local section of your local liquor store, a menu with the same title at a restaurant or bar, and most obviously, right from the distillery. Some of them have dreams of hitting it big one day, while others simply keep it locally exclusive.

Why support a craft distillery?

The local economy benefits:

There’s a lot of cash tossed around in the spirit industry. If we look at solely Kentucky, their bourbon pours a staggering $9 billion into the state’s economy, and also produces 95% of that sought spirit. Out of 95 distilleries within the “Bluegrass State,” 14 of them (as of writing this) are craft operations looking to grab a piece of the pie. There’s cash coming into Kentucky and spent within all in the spirit of this, well, spirit. Not every region is an alcohol producing giant with a hundred distilleries to choose from, but a distillery could be found in at least every state here in the US that would love your support.

When you buy local, your money directly supports your own community. Buying locally will stimulate the economy you’re living in, create and retain the jobs of your neighbors, grow your communities revenue, and support the families around you! It’s like having a drink, and.. drinking it too (that was a very weak attempt at a pun and I’m sorry).

If we focus on craft distilleries, a lot of these operations need support. Even though craft spirits are rising in popularity, it could take years for small operators and startup distillers to get out of the red, especially in this post pandemic economy. A craft distillery generally doesn’t have the big budget, resources, or networking pool that their large format distillery brethren do, so they have an uphill battle when it comes to getting customers to pick their product over the former.

Sourced locally:

Craft distilleries almost always focus on the local taste and experience. For example, I’m writing this from Duluth, Minnesota. Here in the northland, we have Vikre, our very own craft distillery. They source 90% of their grains locally, organically, or both. Inspired by the northern lifestyle and echoes of Norwegian ancestors, their spirits pay homage to our region. Boreal inspired flavored alcohols with notes of spruce, cedar, and juniper can be found in most of their offerings, giving thirsty patrons a taste of local. Although this is tailored to my region, there’s like-minded craft distilleries all across the country. Because the ingredients are sourced locally, everybody benefits! We get a hometown flavor, local farmers get a boost of business, and the craft distillery of our choosing profits. Everyone wins!

How we can support craft distilleries:

There’s loads of ways to support a craft distillery! Perhaps the greatest means is to simply give one a visit; either with a tour, or sitting down for a drink at one of your communities. Sometimes you could find their spirits on the local section of a restaurant’s menu in your city, or liquor store to a similar note. Beyond buying craft spirits, be sure to spread the word and let all comers know about that local liquid gold; share with your peers in person, online, and rally for them!

This isn’t locally exclusive however, craft distilleries are almost everywhere. All of the aforementioned options are still available when traveling both nationally and internationally, so be sure to get a true taste of the region by supporting a craft distillery.


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