How can a Distillery distinguish itself from others?

What is Spirit Tourism?

Spirit Tourism, as defined in this discussion, refers to visiting attractions related to spirits. These attractions can include museums, distilleries, or spirit events.

In general, if your trip or visit is primarily focused on alcoholic spirits or liqueurs, such as taking a distillery trail or participating in a spirited pub crawl, you can be considered a “spirit tourist” as long as you are outside of your usual place of residence.

What is a Distillery Tour?

A distillery tour combines different types of tourism: industrial tourism, cultural tourism, and gastronomic (or culinary) tourism.

Many distilleries have opened state-of-the-art visitor centers and offer a variety of experiences to accommodate the growing number of spirit tourists. In order to stand out from other distilleries in terms of the visitor experience, distillery owners should ask themselves how they can differentiate their distillery.

Are there different types of Distillery Tours?

The range of tours offered is an important factor. Visitors appreciate having a choice of different experiences based on their knowledge, time, and budget. Repeating a basic tour that explains the production process from raw material to bottle may not add much value for enthusiasts, home distillers, or craft distillers.

While some argue that the process may vary between distilleries, visitors would need a deeper understanding or the ability to ask specific and technical questions in order to appreciate these nuances. Distillers or distillery operators would be best suited to conduct these tours instead of regular guides.

ACE micro distillery machine

What is Distillery Sensory Interaction?

A second factor that enhances visitor satisfaction and adds value to their experience is sensory interaction. This includes handling the raw materials, smelling and tasting distillate, observing the distilling process through sight glasses, and, of course, tasting the final product.

Do Distilleries tell Stories?

Storytelling is another important aspect of a successful distillery tour. Sharing distillery or product legends, as well as anecdotes about the distillery’s history or product development, adds a magical touch to the experience.

What other Factors make for a good Distillery Tour?

Visiting working distilleries, rather than static displays or museums, is preferred by tourists as craftsmanship plays a significant role in spirit making.

The food offering also makes a difference for most tourists. Many prefer to have something to eat before or after a spirit tasting, especially in mixed groups or couples where not everyone shares the same passion for the spirit-making process.

Visitors are often interested in other applications involving spirits, and exploring spirited cooking, such as pairing specific ingredients with different spirits or offering spirit-enhanced sweets, baked goods, preserves, and related products, can be a draw. These products can be sold over the counter, in a dining area, or through a dedicated shop.

Last but not least, coherence is key to a successful visitor experience. While a small craft distillery does not need an award-winning 3D-technology display, visitors do expect a well-thought-out presentation, cohesion between different aspects of the visitor experience, and continuity between different areas, activities, and staff members.

Other factors that can contribute to a good distillery tour include staff recruitment and training, presentation and decor of the shop and tasting room, opening hours, booking process, and facility amenities.

It is important to remember that the distillery and tasting room are just as important as the products and packaging when it comes to attracting new customers. Therefore, careful consideration should be given to every aspect of the visitor experience, just as you would with product development.

So be creative, be logical, and most importantly… Keep on Distilling!

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