What are the current challenges distillers are facing today

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09/02/2024 From Standing out due to so so many products to Energy costs and duty rises, leading distillers around the world share with us what they think our industry challenges are today.

Energy costs, duty rises, inflation, and cost of living along with distillers thinking we have reached our creative peak are just some of the challenges expressed by distillers around the world.

We ask distillers around the world on what are the challenges they are facing today. Here is what they have to say:

Josh Cormier, Lead Distiller Adam Brown 55 Distilling Co: Domination by enormous multinational conglomerates. There is no way craft distillers can compete on pricing or marketing with the big brands. The technology and education are now generally quite good so making good quality spirits is not hard for someone who knows how to use the equipment properly and has decent training what this means is it is a highly competitive industry in terms of quality, so the next thing to compete on would be price and advertising, which is not possible for smaller players. This leads to a lack of novelty and innovation on the shelves. Because the big guys are so much more successful at marketing but generally much more conservative in experimenting with new ideas there is a long uptake from small distiller's creativity to something the average person will be able to find on their liquor store shelf.

Josh Cormier, Lead Distiller  Adam Brown 55 Distilling Co

Celina Perez, Head Distiller at Great Jones Distilling Co: The spirits industry has reached this creative peak that, I believe, will peter out into a purist movement.

Evan Brewer, Head Distiller at TX Whiskey: I think being able to differentiate yourself from the multitude of brands on the market is a major challenge.

Evan Brewer, Head Distiller at TX Whiskey

Miles Pote: Standing out, there are so many products out there now, and some fantastic ones at that. But specifically for us in the Gin category, it is flooded with white labels and products that could be the same Gin in different packaging. To survive I truly believe the category needs to recognize products with provenance. I like to think about it like a job interview. If there were 100 candidates for a job and 99 of the CVs were perfectly acceptable but identical and there was 1 that was great and completely different, which one would get the job? The spirits industry needs to embrace quirky, authentic, and innovative brands and companies to remain exciting and get the engagement it needs.

Miles Pote: Owner and Distiller at Igneous Gin Ltd

Michael Melrose, Head Distiller at V Rum: Ever increasing tax. Lack of meaningful PGI's. Existing PGI's limiting experimentation and new products.

Michael Melrose, Head Distiller at V Rum

Vikas Ghule, Distiller at Doja Gin, East Side Distillery: In the UK - HMRC.  The inconsistency of rules, regulations, and the law, coupled with duty increases and inequitable grants and support across the drinks-producing sector and the hospitality industry will kill some distilleries - and for some, it is already too late.

Vikas Ghule, Distiller at Doja Gin (East Side Distillery)

Aeden Cormack, Distiller at The Glasgow Distillery Co: Patience, multitasking, problem solving and planning.

Aeden Cormack, Distiller at The Glasgow Distillery Co

Andrew Parsons, Master Distiller and Co-founder of SKY WAVE GIN: Energy costs, duty rises, inflation, and cost of living – much the same as everyone is facing. The rise in the cost of energy has got to be the main challenge at the moment and the knock-on effect that has had on the cost of glass, molasses, and running the still along with cost pressures that bring to bare on everything else. We are in the process of expanding our distillery, with the addition of a tasting room and retail space, along with a dedicated malting facility to enable the scaling of the production of a single malt whisky from barley grown on our farm. As part of this, we are investing in renewable power generation equipment necessary to offset not only some of the cost but also work toward a net zero production throughout our range.

Andrew Parsons, Master Distiller and Co-founder of SKY WAVE GIN

Dr. Kit Carruthers, Owner, and distiller at Ninefold Distiller: Resourcefulness, attention to detail, a firm belief in your abilities and limits, willingness to just get stuck in, and not being afraid to try things out, experiment, and push what your equipment can do. It helps to have a reasonably good palate too!

Dr. Kit Carruthers, Owner, and distiller at Ninefold Distiller

Andrew Wakder: Maintaining a good team! It is a family affair. My parents Julia and Steve, and my wife Hannah all support me in the running of the distillery. We get plenty of assistance from my extended family too – whether that be my cousin James who is a successful winemaker in South Australia, Richard who grew up on St. Martin’s and has led the development of the SC Dogs brand and design work, my uncle as electrician or my 97-year-old Grandfather (still farming on St. Martin’s!) lending me his Massey Ferguson 135 tractor to prepare the next barley field and his years of experience in growing crops on St. Martin’s.



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