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The Holy Tasting Room Trifecta

05/8/2018 • Shawn Patrick

Nothing today is just one thing. Your blockbuster film will also have everything from action figures, video games, and diabetes-inducing breakfast cereal attached to it as part of a bigger marketing operation. And that isn't even including all the fast food promotions and car commercial tie-ins.

This has increased with the level of constant connectivity that the internet and mobile devices have given us. What does this have to do with craft distilling? Everything really, but for now let’s look at how it works with one of the most significant aspects of marketing hooch – the tasting room.

First off, since each state and local municipalities have their own laws and regulations regarding what can be served or sold in a tasting room, there is no one universal answer about what should be in them. That means a distillery has to work with what they got. Some lucky distillers in states who have let go of the prohibition era can offer cocktails and other drinks while others may be lucky if they can hand out a couple of sample ounces to customers once per visit. A tasting room can still be the focal point from which a lot of your spirits get sold, even if they aren’t sold on premises. Just remember these three things.

 Be Part of the Community

There is a better than good chance that your distillery has a persona, and a good one at that if you’re still in business. A business’s persona is the vibe it makes people feel when they go to it or think of it. Imagine if your distillery was a person. What would they do in their off time? What music would they listen to? What sort of people would they hang out with? Once you figure that out, you know where to start for engaging your customer base.

Host a small music festival or art fair at your distillery, with your tasting room front and center. If that’s too gauche, prominently have it standing off to the side ready to welcome anyone prepared for a break from the event. The same goes for hosting parties whenever a local sports team wins big or has a season opener.

Being a venue for private events is also an excellent way for a distillery to market itself. There are weddings, bachelor & bachelorette parties, and thank god the divorce is final blowouts that people need an impressive venue for. With any event, be proactive about safety and don’t let anyone drive away drunk. 

Be on Social Media

A small distillery can’t afford to be without an active social media presence. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, you name it. Your distillery should be on it. Social media allows a distillery to interact with patrons and potential customers virtually 24-7. Post your events, share news about your products, and always make people feel like they are welcome on your page. As easy as it is to forget sometimes, there is a living feeling human on the other end of the screen.

Be Ready for Anything Else

There will always be strange opportunities that will pop up here and there. A local band might want to shoot a music video in your heavily themed tasting room. Or similarly, an indie filmmaker might want to shoot a scene or two there. You could even host political debates. The sky is the limit here.

Also, don't forget to show up at other events. While you can't correctly pack up your tasting room and bring it with you, setting up a booth and handing out fliers showcasing what your distillery has to offer can be a huge hit. Be a part of the event, if possible. Volunteer at charity runs or help the cleanup crew after a concert. If you’re there, so is your distillery.