Contract Distilling

Contract Distilling

Experience our exquisite blend of expertise, craftsmanship and friendly service.

Contract distilling is where a company (the brand owner) commissions a distillery like us to produce alcoholic spirits on their behalf. At Kettlesing, we work with a wide range of brands, from start-ups to retailers, museums to universities, importers to exporters.

We specialise in distilling gin, flavoured gin, aperitifs, liqueurs, and rum.

It’s common for us to work with companies who want to create their own spirits brand but may not have the facilities, equipment, or expertise to produce on their own. That’s where we come in – using our friendly, collaborative approach, we can guide you through the process, step-by-step and take away the confusion and stress.

Kettlesing Distilling Logo

Benefits of contract distillation

  • Much more cost-effective – with our expertise, production service and regulatory advice, all in one
  • Access to facilities – and the peace of mind everything is being done properly
  • Flexibility in production – our service is bespoke to your needs
  • Brand enhancement – we’ll produce a recipe together that is an extension of your brand story and reflects who you are

Get in touch with us here to chat about your recipe development and distillation project.

What does the process involve?

Contract distilling consists of several steps, from the initial idea to the production and branding of the spirits:

1 Concept & Planning

The first step is to decide what type of spirit you want to create. If you are looking for something outside our specialisms, we’ll put you in touch with a suitable partner. At this stage you should think about the specific characteristics of your product, such as alcohol content, flavour profile, and any unique selling points (USPs). Factors to be considered include existing products which are popular, the marketing story for the brand / bottle design, and even historical links with some possible botanicals – this will all help with the product’s story!

This is the time to do your market research, to understand consumer preferences, trends, and competitive products in the region you plan to launch your product.

2 Recipe Development

Now for the exciting part! We’ll create a product brief and collaborate with our distiller and flavour specialists to develop a unique flavour profile and recipe, in line with your vision. We’ll experiment with a range of ingredients, botanicals, flavours and production methods to achieve the desired taste and quality. We don’t do ‘off-the-shelf’ products and we provide a fully independent and confidential service throughout. Your final recipe will be a document, featuring ingredient quantities, production steps, and ageing specifications (where required) for you sign off, before going into full production.

Recipe Development

The production agreement will outline the terms of the contract distilling arrangement, including recipe ownership (which is always owned by you as the brand-owner), production quality, and payment terms.

3 Raw materials & dry goods supply

In alcoholic spirits, goods are often defined as ‘dry goods’ or ‘wet goods’. Dry goods generally refer to the non-liquid ingredients or materials used in the production process, such as bottles, closures, tamper-evident seals, labels and cardboard boxes. ‘Wet goods’ is a term commonly used in spirits production which refers to the raw materials or ingredients used in the production of the alcoholic beverage itself. Depending on the type of spirit you want to create, these can include the neutral alcohol, fruits, sugars, and demineralised water.

As a small distillery, we ask for the dry goods to arrive two weeks before the production – also known as ‘just-in-time’. We normally ask clients to provide their glass bottles, closures, tamper-evident seals, and labels for the product, as it’s often most cost-effective for you to go direct to the manufacturer or wholesaler, rather than us purchasing these goods on your behalf. We have a list of fantastic suppliers we can put you in touch with.

Kettlesing Distilling

4 Full production

Once the recipe has been signed off, and the raw materials and dry goods have arrived, the next step is to proceed to a distillation in the still room! The distillery will follow the agreed-upon recipe and production process to create the spirit. This process may include diluting, distillation, and blending (if applicable).

We specialise in small-batch production runs, ranging from 210 up-to 2,400 bottles per batch. Our equipment can handle a range of bottle sizes, from 200ml up to magnums.

As a bonded warehouse facility authorised by HMRC, we can manufacture and distribute your product under bond should you require it. To learn more about the key stages in the production process, please visit our page on alcohol bottling, which includes information on diluting and blending alcohol, filling, capping, and labelling.

Before any product being packaged into cardboard cartons, final quality checks take place to ensure the product meets quality standards. This will include sensory evaluations, alcohol content testing, and compliance with labelling requirements.

We are, of course, fully compliant with all the UK legal requirements, from an up-to-date Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System (HACCP) to being approved members of Food Alert (part of The Citation Group’s food compliance business), which is a supplier assurance programme used by The National Trust.

And finally…

On completion, we will provide you with a range of documents, including tasting notes, a production information sheet, an allergens sheet, and any brand training required on the liquid itself. Also included will be the ABV Measurement, Allergen Information, Bottling Instructions, Campden BRI Food Safety Analysis Report, Excise Duty Payment Letter, and a Production Statement of Fact.

That’s the spirit!

Developing your own alcohol product is such an exciting process, and we know effective communication between the brand owner and distillery is crucial to ensuring the final product is as perfect as it should be and aligns with your vision.

We’re delighted that the products we have produced have gone on to win awards!

Here are a few of them:

The Gin Masters – Silver (London Dry Gin)

International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) – Silver (Category: Gin & Tonic)

International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) – Silver (Category: London Dry Gin 40% +)

The Rum & Cachaça Masters – Gold

The People’s Choice Awards – Rum On The Rocks – Winner

If you are looking for a capable distillery partner who can guide you step-by-step through this process, then let’s chat! Simply send us an email to hello@kettlesingdistilling.com or submit a contact form enquiry here.

Get in touch

What our customers say…

Kettlesing Distillery Testimonial
Kettlesing Distillery Testimonial

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve answered some of the questions we’re most asked below. If you have a question we haven’t covered, get in touch – we’re here to help every step of the way.

What is your minimum order for contract distilling?

Our MOQ for contract distilling is 150-litres, which usually works out at 210 x 70cl bottles or 732 x 20cl bottles.

How long does it take to manufacture gin, vodka, rum, or liqueurs?

Each client is different and we can work as fast as you prefer. We typically break down the project into 3 stages:

Stage 1 (Product Development), allow 4 to 6 weeks,

Stage 2 (Spirits Production,) allow 3 to 4 weeks

Stage 3 (Bottling), allow 1 week.

All future repeat orders are on 6 weeks lead time.

What licences and certificates do you have?

Our distilling licences include a Rectifier of Spirits Licence (L110) and a Compounder of Spirits Licence (L110). Excise warehousing licences include Trade Facility Warehouse Approval, an Authorised Warehousekeeper Certificate, and a Registered Owners of Duty Suspended Goods held in Excise Warehouses Certificate (WOWGR). We are registered with the UK Duty Stamps Scheme and the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS). In addition, we also have an HMRC Duty Deferment Account when importing goods from overseas for clients.

How much does contract distilling cost?

There are lots of factors to consider when we provide a quote, from the type of alcohol you are looking for, to the quantity of product and the shape and size of bottle. We’d love chat with you about your upcoming alcohol brand, please get in touch via our contact form and we will be back in-touch within 24 hours.

How will I know what information needs to go on the labels?

Good question! Where you plan to sell your product will dictate the information you need to put on the label. For example, here in the UK, your label must comply with GOV.UK Food Labelling & Packaging Guidance, as-well as the Portman Group New Code of Practice. The Portman Group has developed best practise guidance for drinks producers on communicating alcohol and health-related information to consumers across multiple channels, including on-pack and online. We have a label printing guide which provides best-practice label examples to comply with legislation in the UK market. In the meantime, please feel free to read our blog on label guidance.

Do you have any label suppliers that we could work with?

Yes, we work with two award-winning label manufacturers in the UK who specialise in premium quality self-adhesive labels for the drinks industry. Both businesses have produced labels for a wide range of luxury spirits, including whiskies, gins, vodka, brandy, cachaça and fruit liqueurs.

How do we purchase a barcode for our label?

We can do that for you as part of our service. We are a member of  GS1 UK, which is a not-for-profit global leader in the production and distribution of barcodes and prefixes. If you have a product to sell, you need a unique GTIN-13 barcode to ensure your product scans correctly in UK retailers and wholesalers.

Can you distil alcohol on-site?

Yes, we have both a Rectifier of Spirits Licence (L110) and a Compounder of Spirits Licence (L110).

What is the current excise duty on alcoholic products in the UK?

In August 2023, the UK Government announced a new and improved UK Alcohol Duty Regime. This new regime affects business like ours, involved in the manufacture, distribution, holding, sale and consumption of alcoholic products.

All spirits with an ABV exceeding 22% now have a duty rate of £31.64 per litre of alcohol (PLA). To give you an example of how this works in practice: if we manufacture 210 x 70cl bottles at 40% ABV. This would be a total finished product of 147 litres at 40% ABV, which is equal to approximately 58.8 litres of pure alcohol (measured at 100% ABV). Therefore 58.8 litres of pure alcohol x £31.64 equals an excise duty payment of £1860.43.

Spirits with an ABV of at-least 8.5% and not exceeding 22% will have a duty rate of £28.50 PLA. If you are looking to produce a spirit of less than 8.5% ABV, then we may be eligible to apply for Small Producer Relief on your behalf.

Can you supply the dry goods for our spirits brand?

Yes we can! We can source the dry goods for your contract distilling venture, such as glass bottles, stoppers, closures, capsules, and packaging (cardboard cartons). The only dry goods we don’t supply is your label, but we’ll put you in contact with our preferred label printers and you can communicate with them directly. Then, send us your labels, and we’ll keep them in stock and apply to your products when bottling.

How do we collect the finished product from you?

If your alcoholic product is duty-paid at the time of collection, you have two easy options: (1) you can collect the product from our distillery on a day and time which suits you; or (2) we can send your product to you via one of our preferred logistics partners with cargo insurance. If your product is duty-suspended at the time of dispatch, your movement will need to travel under duty-suspension to its destination (another bonded warehouse) through a haulier who has the use of a movement guarantee. If you are looking to move goods under duty suspension, we have a network of hauliers who assist in transporting your product.

Just get in touch if you have any more questions and we’ll come back to you within 24 hours!