SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE
SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017
Just a few blocks east of the mighty Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota sits the Tattersall Distilling Company — one of America’s finest and frequently awarded producers of spirits and liqueurs. Back in late 2013, friends and founders Dan Oskey and Jon Kreidler began researching the viability of starting their own distillery. Laws were changing in the U.S. allowing more micro and “craft” brewing and distilling businesses to start up operations. Recognizing an opportunity to turn their passions into a viable business venture, the partners played to their strengths and pooled their talents to hit the ground running. Oskey picked up bartending in college and turned it into a lifelong vocation. In fact, he became so adept at making cocktails from scratch that Minneapolis Eater named him the 2013 Best Bartender in the city. His entrepreneurial flair in the beverage industry took him out from behind the bar and into the world of production. He helped found Joia All-Natural Soda and Easy & Oskey Bitters Kits. Today you can find him developing the spirits and craft cocktails for Tattersall. Kreidler approached the partnership from the financial side. Equipped with an MBA from the University of Chicago, he decided that the time was right to jump from the world of banking and hedge funds into an industry that was more about passion than number crunching. He enrolled in the Michigan State Distilling School, joined forces with Oskey, and Tattersall was born.
Construction began on the distillery in early 2015 and they started distilling in March of the same year. A mere four months after that, Tattersall spirits hit the distribution trucks. Spotlight on Business spoke with co-founder Jon Kreidler about their early success and expansion.
OCTOBER 2017 • SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE
By John Allaire W hen we started two-and- a-half years ago, we were at about 9,000 sq. ft. We’re to about 30,000 sq. ft. now.” Most of the expansion is dedicated to barrel and product storage. And it’s a good thing too, as their pro- duction numbers continue to climb and awards manage to find their way onto the Tattersall mantle. The distillery offers an incredibly wide range of spirits and liqueurs, but it’s their gin that claims the “flagship” title. It’s a smooth and textured spirit crafted with 22 carefully selected botanicals from around the globe, and distilled from 100% Certified Organic Corn Neutral Grain Spirits. Their Award-Winning Barreled Gin takes it up a notch, as it is conditioned in French oak white wine barrels for an added layer of complexity. You’ll also find vodka, Blackstrap Rum, an apple brandy, Aquavit and Pommeau on their spirits shelf. And a Straight Rye Whiskey is in the works. They also produce a seemingly endless list of liqueurs, assured to get even the most seasoned mixologists excited. They include: Orange, Grapefruit and Lime Cremas, Creme de Fleur and Creme de Cacao, Sour Cherry, Bitter Orange, Blueberry, Cranberry, Absinthe Blanche, Amaro, Fernet, Nocino, Americano and Italiano.
distillery apart from so many others is their local sourcing and commitment to all-natural ingredients.
“No fake colours, no fake flavours. It’s always been the way we wanted to do things.” Kreidler points out “Basically, all the grains we use are coming out of Minnesota now. The farm we are using is about 45 miles north of here. We get some of the products out of Wisconsin, which isn’t far from here. But pretty much everything else is from Minnesota.” It’s a sure bet that the local farms are more than pleased to have Tattersall on their client list. For example, the apples they use in their spirits are grown locally at an organic orchard. “We’ll go through about 100,000 pounds of apples this fall and maybe about a million pounds of grain.” That’s not only a welcome boost to the local economy, but also a large part of Tattersall’s overall philosophy and com- mitment to using all natural ingredients. Kreidler admits that this commitment doesn’t necessarily come easy. “No fake colours, no fake flavours. It’s always been the way we wanted to do things. It makes it more difficult to produce some of the products but we’ve found ways to make it work. We just think it’s a better product that way.”
One of the main distinctions setting the Minneapolis-based
Kreidler explains that the use of organically produced ingredi- ents is a matter of quality, not necessarily of marketing. “The majority of the corn we use is organic as well. So we try to use organic where we can. And it’s not so much for the marketing aspect of the business, it’s just better quality products. We try to keep quality top of mind.” He points to the current trend toward consumers wanting to know where their consumables are coming from and how they are produced. “I think the use of all-natural ingredients sets us apart. The flavours speak for themselves. But people, that’s kind of what their asking for. They just want to know where their stuff’s coming from and make sure that it’s good quality.”
Tattersall’s ‘all-natural’ commitment has paid dividends, not only in sales but also in the form of industry awards. “Over the past two years, we’ve taken home about 50 awards from spirits competitions. But numerous other awards as well. We were named the top distillery in the state and our Barreled Gin was named ‘Top Gin in the Country’ at the American Craft Spirits Awards. We just got Double Gold for the Barreled Gin and our Aquavit (which was named ‘Best of Class’) at the San Francisco Spirits Awards, and our liqueurs are winning awards as well.” Like any jurisdiction in North America, there is certainly no shortage of rules and regulations to manage in Minnesota when operating an establishment that produces or serves alcoholic beverages. But Kreidler explains that Minnesota has taken legislative steps toward loosening restrictions on cocktail bars. Always the entrepreneurs, Tattersall seized the opportunity to become trailblazers in the newly emerging trend toward the cocktail bar scene. “Minnesota’s unique in the US — state-by- state the rules are different — when we were putting the plans together, you could see that the concept of a ‘cocktail room’ was going to become legalized. And so we really built our model around that. We were definitely the first ones in the State of Minnesota and there weren’t many in the country before us that really built their model so focused on the cocktail room. “The cocktail room helps our marketing arm as a test experience. If we find there’s a demand for a certain product, we’ll make plans to distribute.” Once again, their commitment to natural ingredients and the will to make their creations from scratch carried over into their cocktail room experience. “In Minnesota you can only pour what you’re producing spirits-wise. We step it up to the next level and we make everything in the drink. We fresh-squeeze all the juices, we make our own bitters, basically everything that goes in the glass. And the cocktail room helps our marketing arm as a test experience. If we
find there’s a demand for a certain product, we’ll make plans to distribute. If the demand is modest, we’ll just keep it in house.” “We step it up to the next level and we make everything in the drink.” The cocktail room is a going concern for Tattersall. Not only does it provide a great opportunity for the distillery to test out its new products and recipes, but it has also become a benchmark for best practices in the cocktail lounge industry in America. On an average Saturday night, the 200-seat bar can expect to pour up to 1,800 drinks, upwards of 5,000 drinks during special events. “We were actually named in the list of the top 50 bars in America last year by Playboy, Four Square, Eater.com and other national publications.” And of course, a yardstick for success can always be measured by how peers in the industry use your model to develop their own plans. “We see a lot of people who are building distilleries that have similar laws in their state, come in here and see how it’s done, and how we put it together. When we built our business, there was nothing like it in the country.” With owners like Kreidler and Oskey, you can be sure that the grass won’t grow under their feet. Their first priority is to take their products up to the national level. They are currently in 16 states, and are looking at more extensive distribution networks in many of the remaining jurisdictions. But why stop there? Tattersall has its sights on international distribution. In fact, their proximity to Canada has led them to working on distribution deals with the Province of Manitoba. Once that takes hold, other Canadian provinces may be afforded the opportunity to taste some of Minnesota’s finest spirits. Plans for distribution in Europe and Asia are being bandied around as well. “From a spirit side, we’re kind of at a neat point now because our brown spirits are going to start rolling off in 2018. Our Straight Rye should be ready to go in February. And that’s really our first ‘aged’ product. We’re taking our time with the brown spirits. Doing it right.” “We’re taking our time with the brown spirits. Doing it right.” Kreidler closes out with his emphasis on how Tattersall really tries to go down a checklist of priorities when they are developing their products. Local ingredients … check. Natural ingredients … check. Unique taste and character … check. They are certainly innovators in the craft distill- ing movement, just in their breadth of products alone. Take further into account that other would-be distillers are using their business as a benchmark and the awards keep flooding in, it’s safe to say that Tattersall is “doing it right.”
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1620 Central Ave NE Ste 150 Minneapolis, MN 55413
as spotlighted in the OCTOBER 2017 issue of SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE
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