Distilling Contractor

Why use a contract distillery?

Contract Distilling

A contract distillery (or third-party distillery) can help bring your spirit brand to life.

10 Reasons to Use Contract Distilling

Whether you aspire to launch your own alcoholic drinks label or want to create a beverage to extend an existing portfolio of goods or services, bringing that dream to fruition can be both thrilling and daunting! The last thing you want is for legal red tape, lack of experience or the sheer scale of the task to become barriers to getting started.

Enter contract distilling. Also known as third-party distilling, this is where a brand contracts another company to produce alcoholic beverages on their behalf. Using a third-party contract distillery cuts out a great deal of the time, effort and cost of producing a drinks product – and means you can bring it to market faster.

You’d be forgiven for thinking contract distilling isn’t very common if it’s not a world you have entered into before. For as long as there has been an alcoholic drinks industry, though, there have been contractors taking care of the recipe development, distillation, refining and bottling. And it’s a good job, too, because it enables smaller brands, or those who are new to the industry, to pivot quickly to meet trends and keep bringing new products to market that drive the craft drinks market.

So, without further ado, let’s dive a little deeper into 10 reasons to use contract distilling!

Reason 1: Saving on cost

We’ll tackle the financial side first because the main reason anyone launches a product is to make a juicy profit! Developing, manufacturing and launching a product line obviously demands investment, and it might at first glance seem that outsourcing a lot of that work would only add to the bill. Happily, the opposite is true! Doing everything yourself would mean a raft of expenses, from setting up your own distillery (trust us, we’ve been there!) to employing staff, managing overhead costs, investing in the necessary regulation requirements… the list goes on. Once your distillery is operational, you then have all of your raw ingredients to buy. By using a contract distillery service, you can use their facilities, and operational costs are taken care of. Contract distillers buy materials like alcohol, botanicals and packaging in bulk, and so benefit from economies of scale. These are savings which can be passed on to you.

Reason 2: Access to equipment

Now we’ve established that you don’t need to build your own distillery (hurray!) there are a couple of other reasons why it’s handy to be able to access the equipment of your distilling company:

  1. They’ll usually have state-of-the-art equipment. This is what these companies do day in, day out, and their reputation is as good as the product they distil, so they will have invested in facilities that deliver the best quality.
  2. Test and trial without the commitment. Accessing a contract distiller’s production facilities means you can experiment with different products without needing your own production setup. For those looking to add diversity to their range, this is an ideal solution.

Reason 3: Experience

Working out where to start with bringing a new product to market is intimidating enough, but your chosen contract distilling company shouldn’t just produce your spirit to spec and leave you to the rest. Working with a third party gives you access to their expertise, and you’ll be entering an industry of passionate distillers who are keen to share that knowledge with you!

Distilling experts

There is a real skill to crafting spirits and working alongside a master distiller means being able to use their insights into flavour profiles, botanicals and the characteristics you want to showcase in your spirit.

Contract distillers can work with you to develop your recipe, too. Whether you know exactly what you want or need a guiding hand from the start, your distiller should be able to work with you, as well as using their expertise and connections to advise on current market trends and opportunities. When the key focus to a profitable product is delivering what people want to buy, the inside knowledge of your distiller is invaluable.

Reason 4. Access to the all-important supply chain

There can be a lot to bring together when creating a new beverage, so efficiency and reputable suppliers are key.

Working with a contract distiller will likely mean you can access their supplier network; suppliers with a reliable track record and who are used to working with that distillery. This streamlines the procurement process and takes care of much of the work around research, negotiations and contracting – removing the stress from gathering your resources.

If you are looking to create something unique, your contract distiller may also have access to specialised ingredients which would be tricky to source yourself.

Tapping into these pre-established supply chains means smooth logistics and consistent production, as you’ll be working with suppliers who have long-term effective networks.

Reason 5. Help with compliance

One of the biggest perceived barriers to launching a new alcoholic beverage is the red tape. From regulations around production of a consumable, to storage and distribution, the legalities of working with alcohol, labelling requirements… well, it can all feel very complicated.

The great news is that a) by using a contract distiller you will avoid all of the red tape anyone setting up their own facility has to tackle and, b) your distiller should be able to support you through the legal and compliance side of things. They will know this topic inside and will know how to become – and stay – compliant.

One of the things we’re often asked about is what needs to go on the product label, so that’s something you’ll be able to ask your chosen distiller about, too.

When it comes to distribution, there can be specific regulations for different regions, so again, contract distillers can offer guidance on this, saving you time, money and headaches.

Reason 6. Speedy route to market

Time is money! Once you have decided that producing an own-label drinks product is for you, you’ll no doubt want it to start bringing in those profits as soon as possible.

As we mentioned earlier, the drinks industry is also trend-led, so being able to launch quickly means you don’t miss out on golden opportunities.

Working with a contract distiller will speed up the time it takes to bring your product to market by:

  1. Giving you access to ready-to-use facilities
  2. Streamlining your production process
  3. Offering a quick turnaround, especially for small batches – particularly handy when you’re testing the market

Reason 7: Market research and testing

Speaking of testing the market, one of the major perks of using a contract distilling service here in the UK is flexibility when you want to float an idea and see if it’s the right one for your label. If the beverage doesn’t perform as hoped, you can adjust without being lumbered with depreciating assets in the form of equipment and materials.

Once you have tested the market, committing to a larger-scale production is quick and easy because you will have everything in place with your distillery.

Oh, and we mentioned earlier that working with a contract distiller brings baked-in expertise. Those insights are very useful at the testing stage too, because you can use them to refine the product offering, adapt the brand strategy and position in the market before making big production and marketing investments.

Reason 8: Flexibility in volumes

‘Flexibility’ is a word we keep throwing in there, and truly, it’s a key ingredient in launching a product successfully. Working with a contract distilling company to produce your branded spirit grants you the ability to scale production volumes according to demand. Whether that demand changes due to trends, seasonal popularity or market fluctuations, it’s important to be able to flex quickly… and forecast, too.

bottle filling

Reason 9: Focus on what you do best

The two key reasons for outsourcing anything are a) because you cannot do it yourself, or b) to be able to focus on what you do best. We’ve talked a lot so far about what a contract distilling partner can do for you… but let’s not forget that they will also free you up to put your own time and skills to best use – on growing your brand.

Reason 10: Consistency and quality

Your product is only as good as the quality poured into it, so of course you will want to ensure that every player in your product’s route to market implements quality control measures. For a distilling company, this is done via standardised processes, so they can maintain consistency from recipe to recipe, and batch to batch.

This is where those long-standing relationships with their suppliers are precious! Consistent supply of premium quality raw materials ensures every batch is as perfect as the last.

Finally, an optimised distillery is an effective distillery, reducing the risk of production inefficiencies and ensuring smooth, safe, consistent and cost-effective production… all ready for the perfect serve.

We hope this guide has offered clarity on why so many brands choose to partner with a contract distilling company to produce alcoholic beverages that feed and lead the drinks industry! Here at the Kettlesing Distilling Company, we work with a wide range of clients to do just that, and sharing our wealth of experience and attention to detail is what helps us build long-term relationships with our clients.

If you want to chat about your idea for a new spirit, we’d love to hear about it! And if you have more questions about how it all works, visit our Contract Distilling page or go ahead and get in touch.

Ready to elevate your spirit brand to new heights?

Discover the unparalleled advantages of our Contract Distilling service. With us, you gain access to industry-leading expertise, state-of-the-art facilities, and a seamless process designed to bring your unique beverage vision to life, ensuring quality and innovation every step of the way. Don’t miss the opportunity to transform your ideas into a distinguished product with a trusted partner. Speak to our experts to learn more and begin your journey with a premier contract distillery today!