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Skeptic Distillery

Award-Winning Gin and Vodka. Unique Whiskeys, Cold-Distilled from Craft Beer.

Highlights

1
In our first competition, we won "Best In Show" for Gin, "Gin of the Year" and "Vodka of the Year." We've since won a dozen more awards.
2
Skeptic Gin was rated one of the Top 100 Spirits in the World by Wine Enthusiast in December 2019
3
Skeptic spirits capture and retain the freshness of our base ingredients by distilling at colder, more natural temperatures.
4
We are expanding rapidly, including 4 new markets in Q1 2020, which will expand our customer base and revenues.
5
We will achieve break even later this year at approx. 200 cases sold per month, or about $180,000 annual sales, just from vodka and gin.
6
Our craft beer whiskey will catapult us to profitability rapidly. Demand is high and our whiskey creates a new niche in the space.
7
Our founder has a history of success. He turned a company on the edge of bankruptcy into the industry leader with over 80% market share.
8
We are self-funded, with zero bank/investor debt. In the past 12 months, we've had revenues of $53K despite no distribution until May.

Our Team

President
Helped lead EnviroTech International from the edge of bankruptcy, with $3.5MM sales & $6MM+ debt, to the #1 supplier of its products at 80% marketshare and $14MM+ sales, in <6 yrs. Crafted a gin that won Best In Show in its 1st competition.

I always thought most liquor tasted harsh, needing mixers or chasers to drink. I wanted fresher tasting and smoother spirits. As a homebrewer and craft beer lover, I saw that cold distillation would allow me to take the huge variety and creativity of craft beer into the whiskey and gin world, and create entirely new, fresh tasting spirits.

James Semrick National Sales Manager
Increased sales for Lost Forty Brewing in Arkansas at my former company, Premium Beverage, by over 94% YOY. Started Sureshot Beverage marketing to rep spirits in Arkansas, including the brands Infuse, Woody Creek Distillers and CORE Brewing Co.
Graphic Designer / Marketer
10+ years of graphic design and illustration experience. Published, award-winning science illustrator. Published photographer. Former boutique winery manager. Re-imagined Skeptic branding and marketing to increase social media and brand awareness.

The Story of Skeptic

A Skeptic Is Born

I always thought that most liquor tasted too harsh.  As an avid home brewer, I knew that fresh beer tasted better than mass produced, pasteurized beer.  I wondered if there was a way to make liquor taste fresher and smoother, like cold brewed coffee or cold pressed juice. 

A Curious Process

Vacuum distillation is a process often used in industrial plants to better separate chemicals, remove impurities and distill at lower temperatures.  I began distilling some of my craft beers in the laboratory at work and they smelled and tasted super fresh and just like the beer! At that moment, I decided to change my startup brewery concept into a distillery, focused on using this process to make award-winning, cold distilled, fresh spirits. 

Building Something out of Nothing

Vacuum distillation had been done before with gin, and was not an entirely new idea. But it had never been done in a way that was scale-able, or for other types of spirits.  So we built a distillery and the still ourselves, because nobody had ever made one quite like ours before.

3, 2, 1...Wait

In November 2017 we received our Federal Permit for distilling. A few months later we got the Illinois Craft Distiller's Permit and we were ready to go! However, there was still a little roadblock known as the three tier system, and due to timing we wouldn't be able to launch with a distributor in Illinois until May 2019.

In the Meantime, the Awards Roll In

While biding our time until our launch with Heritage Wine Cellars, we focused on building our brand and developing alternate sales avenues, including online. We also entered as many competitions as we could afford and wound up with some serious hardware!

  • Skeptic Gin Review - Wine Enthusiast (91 Points) – August 2019
"The bright spearmint scent gives a hint of what's to come: a refreshing, tingly sip with plenty of lemon peel, juniper and minty zing, with just a tinge of sweetness on the exhale. Distilled from corn, with botanicals that include hibiscus, gooseberry, mango and cardamom, although the soft palate doesn't read as particularly floral or fruity. It's pleasing just the same."
Wine Enthusiast - Kara Newman, Spirits Editor

3, 2, 1...Lift-Off!

On May 1st, 2019 we officially launched with our Illinois distributor.  Skeptic Vodka and Gin are currently being sold in over 30 retail stores in the Chicago area, including 12 Binny's Beverage Depots and over 40 bars and restaurants.  Just recently, we sold our 500th case overall and 150th in Illinois, and sales are doubling month over month as we continue to grow sales.

Keeping the Rocket Fueled

Gin and vodka sales are projected to continue to expand in Illinois at a steady rate of approx. 20-30% per month on average.  While it cannot be guaranteed, we hope to sell a target of at least 2,400 cases (of ONLY gin and vodka) by the end of 2020, while also branching into the neighboring states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana as well as California and possibly Florida.  Based on our margins now, we expect profitability will occur at approx. 250 cases per month in sales, which we hope to achieve by the middle of 2020.  

Cold Distilled Brew-skeys

By adding our cold distilled craft beer whiskeys to the mix, we'll begin opening up new revenue channels in both on and off premise locations, not only because the demand for whiskey is so high, but because it will indirectly amplify our other product sales as part of a complete portfolio offering. Our whiskeys will be uniquely "Skeptic" and scale-able, so that we'll be able to meet what we expect will be a very strong demand based on conversations with our customers.

Product Portfolio Expansion

We have plans for new products and line extensions, beginning with a limited release gin (GinQuila) based on the paloma cocktail and Mexican-inspired flavors, aged in Cazadores tequila barrels.  Other revenue streams include working with other distillers and brand companies to contract distill and collaborating with craft breweries to distill and market whiskeys cold distilled from some of their more popular beers.


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