The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2012

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Page 38 of 124

MARKETING Craft Distillers Find a Marketing Champion THE AMERICAN STILL LIFE COLLECTION BRINGS AMERICA'S SMALL SPIRITS TO LIGHT story and photo by David Ransom W The experts behind The American Still Life Collection: Director of Marketing Clay Farmer (left) and CEO David Townsend. ith the nationwide explosion of craft distilleries, whose owners have in many cases simply followed the dream of creating their own whiskey, gin or liqueur, there are bound to be some hurdles to over- come, such as learning the distribution business and how to effectively market their products alongside much larger and more established brands. Enter The American Still Life Collection, a broker/distribution venture created by The Vintner Group, a long-established wine wholesaler, exclusively to help promote and distribute America's growing number of artisanal spirits. "We saw a need for this a few years ago after noticing just how many craft producers were cropping up around the country," says CEO David Townsend. Currently, The American Still Life Collection is directly distributing in eight states, "mostly in the Southeast," says Clay Farmer, who as Director of Marketing oversees the collection's portfolio growth and day-to-day opera- tions. "In other states, we act as broker, working with local distributors to get the brands into circulation." According to Chicago's Adam Seger, maker of Hum Botanical Spirit, it's been a perfect fi t. "We'd had good success in New York and Illinois, but as our brand started to fi nd demand in other markets, The American Still Life Collection offered a service that made it very easy to sign on with them. And, being part of The Vintner Group, which is so respected in the fi eld, Hum got instant "street cred" with restaurants and bars, which is my bread-and-butter demographic." 38 / the tasting panel / june 2012 Adds Chip Tate of Waco, Texas based Balcones Distillery, maker of a unique 100% blue corn whiskey named Baby Blue, and who teamed up with The American Still Life Collection after realizing he simply did not have the time or ability to create his own network, "One of the best things that The American Still Life Collection offers me is the freedom of not worrying about who to distribute my products through in far-off states, or states with diffi cult distribution laws. With them taking care of the market- ing end of things, I can spend my time working on my products." With about ten core brands, includ- ing Pennsylvania's Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka and Tennessee's Corsair Artisan Spirits, The American Still Life Collection currently markets about 25 SKUs overall, and plans to grow organi- cally as they fi nd products to fi ll niches in their portfolio.

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