So you’ve decided to take the leap to create a beverage alcohol brand. Congratulations! If you’re confused on where to start next, we’ve put together a guide on the fundamental steps in the process.

Start Your Company and File For A Trademark

The first step is to start your company. In order to do this, you would need to look into whether a corporation or an LLC is the right decision for your brand. Once you have your company formed, then you should file for a trademark.

Trademark applications are not complicated, but finding the right name can be a challenge. The beverage alcohol industry is a crowded space and generic names can be difficult to trademark. The best thing to do is find a name that didn’t mean anything until your brand brought meaning to it.  A great example of this is Google, which didn’t mean anything until the company brought meaning to the word by providing a valuable service.

Licensing and COLAs

You’ll want to make sure you’re applying for the appropriate federal and state licensing, as well. This will include your Federal Basic Permits and a label approval with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). You can submit your label to the TTB to receive your Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) and, in some cases, you must also submit your formula for approval.

Of course, the most important step is creating a product you can be proud of and getting it in front of consumers, but this process can differ greatly depending on whether your team is starting a distillery or not.

Starting A Brand Without A Distillery

The first step is to find producer or a co-packer to help in making your product. This partner may or may not be a formulation expert, depending on your needs.

Once you have your product in a can or a bottle, the next step would be to consider distribution. For smaller startup brands, it can be difficult to begin with a big distributor partner right out of the gate. If you would like to sell your brand in New York, New Jersey, Florida, or California, Park Street can act as a distributor. Park Street allows your  team to focus on sales and marketing efforts, while we handle the logistics of delivery. As a national provider, Park Street can also deliver to your distributor in other states.

The key is to ensure that you’re in compliance with state laws, as the beverage alcohol trade is regulated individually by each state and laws can differ in each market.

Opening a Distillery

The first step to opening a distillery is to find the right location. One of the main challenges in finding a location is the zoning. Be sure that the property is zoned appropriately for manufacturing uses. This can be complicated in more crowded cities, but there can be exceptions and variances.

You also want to keep the rental agreement in mind. If you’re not buying the property, your lease should state the purpose of the property’s use. Make sure it’s known that the property will be used as a distillery because regulators will often look at this and if the rental agreement didn’t state the use, that can potentially cause a delay or other issue.

Also, be sure to consider the different license types for distilleries. If you’re going to blend product that you purchased and not gonna distill anything on your own, then that would call for a Blending or Rectifying license. If you want to have a full distillery where consumers can taste and purchase bottles, then you will need a Craft Distilling or other distilling license.

From there, you should consider distribution and sales. If you’re selling in the same state as your distillery, sometimes states will allow you to do self-distribution and sell on your own, but sometimes you must use a third-party distillery. As you expand into other states, you must also maintain the appropriate permits or registrations to sell in those states.

While none of this seems complicated, it can require a lot of administrative work. Of course, whether you have a distillery or not, your biggest challenge will be getting consumers to buy your product and then securing reorders after their initial purchase.

More Resources on Establishing a New Alcohol Brand:

Park Street Newsletter

Free Guide to Entering the US Market

The Best Financial Advice for Beverage Alcohol Entrepreneurs

2022 Craft Spirits Data Project



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