Why Being “First” Isn’t Enough: A Call to Craft Distilleries in the U.S.

Earlier this week, an editorial I had published on Distiller.com seemed to strike a chord with the whiskey drinking public. Called “What We Consumers Want from Craft Distilleries,” the piece advocates for craft producers to stop all the B.S. and just give us what we care about—first and foremost, quality products, and those that are made and showcased with transparency, authenticity, and meaningful locality.

I originally titled the piece, “Why Being ‘First’ Isn’t Enough,” and I was spurred onto write the column after yet another ugly press release found its way into my inbox, presenting a whole litany of what were, at best, well-meaning but ignorant misunderstandings, and more likely were simply full-throated false claims.

I had enough and needed to speak my mind on the subject. After Tweeting out the story, plenty of you chimed in with agreement.

Ultimately, first this or first that, none of it matters. A good story can be a great thing for your bottom line, especially when it’s a truthfully told one. But in a world where there’s literally thousands of craft distilleries out there, sooner or later, a story or a dubious claim isn’t going to be good enough.

The photo featured at the top here is one I took at Reno’s Frey Ranch, a distillery that’s telling a great story, but one that’s authentic and meaningfully local. The whiskey they have on the way is well-made and patiently matured. After visiting the distillery and coming away impressed by their efforts, I profiled them for one of the inaugural issues of Bourbon+ magazine, and they’re just one example the many distilleries out there doing it the right way.

Check out the full piece on Distiller and feel free to join in the conversation.

Author: Jake Emen

I’m Jake, and I’m your host on this journey. I'm the man doing the eating and the talking around here. I’m a freelance journalist, and I'm also talking whiskey, travel, and other assorted misadventures. Follow me on the Tweet Machine - @ManTalkFood, or send an email to jake [at] mantalkfood.com.

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