Want to impress friends and family at a dinner party by pulling out a bottle of your very own custom whiskey? Or maybe put together company-branded bottles to hand out to clients as corporate gifts? (After all, who really needs another shopping bag or golf shirt?) Enter Foundry Distilling Co.’s Private Barrel Club.
After leading Iowa-based Templeton Rye for a decade, founder Scott Bush decided it was time to move on, selling his controlling interest in 2016. But the spirits industry refused to let him go “quietly into that good night.” Two years later, Bush re-entered the whiskey world by launching Foundry Distillery in Des Moines, IA, using an entirely new and unique business model.
“We’ve become the leader when it comes to making fully custom spirits for individuals and groups,” he explains. “It’s been a huge hit. People love it.”
Having collected aged whiskeys in bulk from MGP (Midwest Grain Product*) and other distributors through the years (along with about 4,000 barrels of whiskey it’s distilled since inception), Bush now curates a deep collection from which customers can build their perfect whiskey barrel, either on-site or by remote sampling.
“If someone’s interested in doing a barrel, we’ll send them different samples along with a QR code that takes you to a personalized web page where you can rate and choose your favorites,” Bush explains. “The best way to do it, though, is to have folks actually come here where they can sit down with our distilling team and go through a tasting with them.”
Blind is Best
Because samples are distinguished by number and not name or description, enthusiasts have no idea what they’re tasting until after they submit their impressions. Only after clients report their impressions and preferences do the Foundry folks reveal their own tasting notes for comparison. Once customers have narrowed their preferences, it’s on to glass selection and label development.
“These whiskeys are already fully aged, so we can have completely custom packaging to someone within about 90 days,” Bush notes. “We’ve gotten pretty sophisticated with the labeling we’re doing — a lot of them look so good, you could picture them on the shelf of a liquor store.”
Initially, customers could only buy the custom whiskey in full barrels (210 bottles) for $10,000. This spring, however, Foundry rolled out new options to allow purchases of half and partial barrels and even starter casks that provide 30 bottles at a bargain cost of $2,400.
“It’s a great value, especially for younger consumers, and when you add in the personalization factor, it becomes something truly special,” Bush says.
We’ll drink to that.
*MGP/Midwest Grain Products is the largest master distiller in the USA, home to the production facilities for some of America’s premiere brands of spirits: Old Elk, The Senator, Rebel, Yellowstone, Ezra Brooks, Minor Case, Remus, Everclear, Dos Primos, and el mayor, to name a few!