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How We Launched a Successful Distillery
Aug 16, 2015 | by Corie Brown | Entrepreneur
Andrew Caspary [Th'06], 33, and his brother Anthony, 31, made a little hooch in a hobby still and considered starting a craft distillery. But they needed help. Once Andrew’s Dartmouth College roommate, Henry Tarmy, 33, moved to Los Angeles with brother-in-law James Greenspun, 33, in tow, they had an MBA, an engineer, an industrial designer, and an environmentalist. Ventura Spirits was launched in 2010.
Their first sale was in mid-2014 to a cousin working in a tiny wine and cheese shop in Beverly Hills. By September, Whole Foods Market had Ventura Spirits in stores across southern California. They were selling local, unique spirits to an eager market.
The base ingredient for their signature vodka—Ventura County strawberries—is an original move. Also unique is their copper still—a four-plate column/pot hybrid they handcrafted themselves to get the efficiency of a column still without losing the flavor preservation quality of a pot still.
Opinions differ on whether their vodka retains a hint of its strawberry origins, but it definitely has a distinct smooth, round, umami-ish mouth-feel. They could have bought neutral spirits at $6 a gallon from an industrial producer, run it once through a still, filtered out the harshness, and sold it for the same price, which is the story behind many “craft” vodkas.
But, as Andrew Caspary says, “There are enough people doing that already. We have a heartfelt belief that distilling is an agrarian tradition firmly rooted in place and, when every community has its own distilling tradition, the imbalances of the globalized economy will begin to correct. We want to be a part of that change.”
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