How to Start a New Vodka Brand Business

Bartender pouring three shots of vodka.
Bartender pouring three shots of vodka. (Image: Radist/iStock/Getty Images)

Bringing a new vodka brand to market takes business savvy and a taste for what the public wants. The process involves having a solid plan for entering the market, where entrepreneurs balance their goals with the realities of starting a business. Starting off small is an effective approach to getting a new vodka brand off the ground and onto store shelves.

Obtain a Craft Distillery License

Some states give entrepreneurs the right to start a craft distillery business. The process varies state-to-state, but includes getting a permit from the Federal Tax and Trade Bureau. Then, entrepreneurs have to apply for various state licenses and permits, depending on whether they want to offer samples on their premises or whether they want to start an outlet.

Start Small-scale Brewing

Many entrepreneurs take on too much when starting their businesses, ending-up in debt and without the vodka brand of their dreams. They spend tens of thousands of dollars on facilities, stills and startup costs, without getting the basics of brewing or running a business down first. Entrepreneurs need to make sure their heat source, boiling chamber, cooling pipes and collection vessel are set up properly before trying to create large batches of vodka. Approaching a new vodka brand business on a small scale requires less investment and risk, plus it gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn how to keep their books, pay their taxes and find clientele.

Use Samples for Marketing Purposes

To build-up a following, entrepreneurs can offer vodka samples at parties, networking events and other venues where alcohol is allowed to be served. Company Christmas parties and private social gatherings also make for good venues to get a vodka brand some recognition. Marketing information can be distributed with the samples, helping to promote the new brand. Entrepreneurs can tout themselves as a small-label producer or use other gimmicks to get themselves noticed. Free samples can lead to small sales, which can help get a brand going. .

Seek Distribution

Once a small following has been established for a new brand, it’s time to start thinking about local or even national distribution. Entrepreneurs can approach local retailers, restaurants and wholesalers, in an effort to get their vodka on the market. Different states have laws on how spirits can be manufactured and distributed, which impacts how entrepreneurs can grow their brand. Also, distribution contracts and vendor agreements need to be executed, to protect entrepreneurs’ interests.

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