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Winning in the Early Stages of Craft Spirits

Nov 29, 2018

•  3 minutes to read

While many beverage brands will succeed or fail within their first two years, whiskey will be slowly aging in barrels.  To have success in craft spirits, a now nearly four-billion-dollar industry, it is worth the wait.  For up and coming Longtucky™ Spirits, the solution for this waiting game is to perfect the tasting room experience by creating a memorable environment and delicious, bright cocktails.

Craft Spirits Industry Snapshot

Last year, the number of active craft distillers in the US grew by 15.5%, reaching a market of $3.7 billion in sales and growing at an annual rate of 29.9%[1].

The now more than 1800 active distilleries are materializing to what is said to become a $20 billion industry by 2023[2].

Many retailers and wholesalers see the potential for craft spirits to perform in line or better than craft beer[1].

In 2017, investment by the US craft spirits industry increased by over $190 million reaching over $590 million in total[3].

Cocktail Artistry

One major point of differentiation for Longtucky Spirits is their formulation of in-house mixers.  Their staple, a house made ginger ale that is always on tap using real organic ginger.   Fresh botanicals like mint, orange rind, and even complex flavors like lavender or turmeric bring out the best of many of Longtucky’s spirits.

Longtucky’s flavors are on point as well.  Google’s Beverage Trends Report shows demand for ginger beverages is growing strongly at a 32% year over year growth rate, and other earthy flavors such as turmeric are top of mind for consumers searching beverages across the different markets[3].

In 2018, food and beverages must be as photo-worthy as they are delicious – according to Mintel[4].  When connecting with today’s consumers, “memorable experiences” are shared on social media.  Therefore, along with flavor, beverage formulators should consider bright, vibrant colors to stimulate the consumer.

“When we make a cocktail with our spirits, that we put so much time and effort into, they become our signature,” says Young.  “It is your first impression, and it might be your last.  Having a quality product and presentation is essential to our growth, and that’s what we demand when we are finding our ingredients.”

PurGinger organic ginger extract by AFS

Pouring into PurGinger®

Art takes many forms; for Longtucky the canvas is ginger.  “Craft breweries and even distilleries are beginning to use the freshest ingredients and latest techniques to create cutting-edge, and deliciously consistent products,” Young emphasizes.  “Our ginger ale is the base to many of our cocktails, so pure flavor and consistency are crucial.”

Consistency is equally important when sourcing.  Longmont, Colorado is historically a vibrant farming community where Longtucky can source its grains from just miles down the road to make their Colorado whiskey.  However, ginger is a seasonal tropical root that is much more difficult to source with reliability.

Coincidentally, Longtucky shares a building with ingredient manufacturer Applied Food Sciences (AFS).  The partnership became a fruitful for Longtucky thanks to PurGinger, an organic ginger extract made by AFS.  PurGinger is a popular ingredient due to its high levels of solubility and standardized active gingerol content.  From

functional beverages, like kombucha, to even craft beer, PurGinger is an easy way for manufacturers to scale production and provide consistent flavor in beverage applications.

“I was excited to work with PurGinger,” states Young.  “What appealed to us was ease of use.  It was taking us 3, maybe even 4, hours to develop our ginger ale, grating ginger by hand to make our syrup.  We struggled with any intention on scaling because that just wasn’t realistic.  Working with PurGinger enables us to create a ginger concentrate without having to drain our staff.  It is such a fresh flavor, and everything you want in ginger compressed into a shelf-stable, dry extract.”

Update: Longtucky™ Spirits is now Abbott & Wallace. Learn more at

  1. The Craft Spirits Data Project – 2018
  2. Research and Markets Data – 2018
  3. Google Beverage trends – 2017
  4. Picture Perfect Mintel – 2018

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