I recently had the pleasure of interviewing a new startup that is passionate about making American Whiskey. Co-founded by Brian Fulker, White River Distillers has a mission to make the world’s best Bourbon Whiskey and Apple Pie Moonshine. White River Distillers operates in the Whiskey & Bourbon Distillers industry with well-financed competitors and strong laws and regulations. In fact, to be considered Bourbon Whisky, it must contain a minimum of 51% corn, be produced in the United States, be distilled at less than 80% ABV (160 proof) and be aged for a minimum of two years in new charred barrels. (http://www.tastings.com/spirits/american_whisky.html)
Bourbon is a booming market with $1 billion in bourbon and Tennessee whiskey exported in 2013. “Exports of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey were up 5 percent, to $1.005 billion in 2013 from $956.8 million in 2012, a $50 million increase.” According to research, Whiskey exports are explored mainly to Japan (up 68 percent since 2012 to $120.8 million), Germany (up 114 percent to $140 million), France (up 268 percent to $130 million), the United Kingdom (up 89 percent to $159.6 million), and Spain (up 171 percent to $69.8 million). (http://www.kentucky.com/2014/02/04/3068368/bourbon-tennessee-whiskey-exports.html#storylink=cpy)
Bourbon Whiskey is an established and defined market but the craft distiller sector is becoming an emerging market. This is the space that White River Distillers will compete in and to be competitive, Brian’s focus will be on his marketing plan, price and distribution strategies. Brian is currently finalizing a 3-year contract with a local Prosser company to process his products and is in the process of signing with Columbia distributors to distribute his products to local bars, restaurants, friends and families. Brian is still developing his plans and has not firmed up his strategy for how to reach his customers. But one thing is clear and unpromising and that is he will not compromise the quality of his products. He has decided to use only locally grown grains and botanicals in their products and will tap into his network of friends in Eastern Washington for organic apples.
In the last few years, Brian and his partner have been brewing and testing their products. The production takes 120 days from grains to a finished product. His first set of “customers” has been his closest friends and families. In fact, I had a sample of his Apple Pie Moonshine and it was the best I ever tasted. To bring this delicious product to the general market, he has started the registration process which has been his biggest pain points, besides the strict rules and regulations, time to develop, market, and distribute, and the research and development.
Brian is very passionate about his Whiskey and his passion is clear with the taste of his Apple Moonshine. He has a great and ambitious plan and I am excited for his production to roll out to the market.
Company’s website: http://whiteriverdistillers.com/ does not work