Nashua business getting into the spirit of a growing trend
Craft distiller Andy Harthcock pays tribute to his Southern roots with his Beat 3 white whiskey, or moonshine, which is sold soon after it's distilled without any aging. But Harthcock also sells 2-liter barrels that customers can use to age their Beat 3 in two to four weeks. (BARBARA TAORMINA/Union Leader Correspondent)
"There's always room for another whiskey," said Harthcock who is genuinely happy to hear someone else is mulling over a career change from banking to bourbon or from software to schnapps.
Cindy Harthcock happened to mention to her husband that she had read an article about making potato vodka in Bon Appetit magazine.
That experiment led to more research, a business plan and to the decision to cash in their 401(k) account and launch Djinn Spirits.
"The industry is ripe," he said, adding that growth will benefit all of the players.
And Harthcock is convinced that there are plenty of different tastes to drive demand for a variety of hand-crafted spirits.
Originally from Mississippi, the Harthcock's white whiskey is a tribute to southern moonshine, a new taste for Nashua. Their gin is an original recipe flavored with grains of paradise and citrus.
"We've spent an inordinate amount of time explaining how to get into the business," said Vars. And like the Harthcocks, they are more than happy to help.
For Vars, Hughes and the Harthcocks, part of the attraction of distilling was the chance to combine science, technology, creativity and business savvy into a product whose sole purpose is enjoyment.
And while it's both challenging and rewarding to discover just the right tweaks and details, distillers learn early on that the business comes with hoops to jump through, forms to file and exacting federal and state rules to live by. It can take 18 months to a couple of years to get through the federal and state permitting process, and because the site, equipment and supplies need to be in place to be approved, the startup costs for micro-distilleries can be daunting.
To sell to restaurants, pubs and liquor stores, distillers must send their products to the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, which distributes them though its warehouse.Filling a niche
"People are out there, riding around. They need to have a place to go," said Vars, who thinks a rum and whiskey trail, similar to the wine trails in grape growing regions, would be a hit.
"Picking your favorite whiskey is like picking your favorite child. It's impossible," he said.
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