Shanken News: Craft Spirits Segment Continues to Attract New Interest

From Shanken News:

Craft spirits comprise a small slice of the U.S. spirits market, but their influence is rising fast as new players continue to enter the category. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, there were just a few dozen American craft distilleries operating in 2000, compared to more than 200 today. Some craft distillers put the current number as high as 400.

“The craft spirits segment continues to enjoy growth well beyond that of the broader industry,” says Lance Winters, master distiller at St. George Spirits in Alameda, California. St. George makes 17 products under their own label and many more for other companies—including Hangar One vodka, marketed by Proximo Spirits. The St. George portfolio includes three gins (each $35 a 750-ml. bottle), a single malt whiskey ($70), a Bourbon-style whiskey ($36), an absinthe ($60), and several flavored liqueurs and eau de vie ($20 to $40 a 375-ml. bottle).

Craft distillers love the freedom that comes with small-scale spirits making. “We can decide what to make and what we want to be rather than aiming for the broadest appeal,” explains Sonja Kassebaum, co-founder of North Shore Distillery in Lake Bluff, Illinois. North Shore Distillery makes six core products and is developing several others.

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