Utah distillery business booming despite small business hurdles

Dec 15, 2022, 7:00 AM

While small businesses across the nation are struggling, one industry is doing well in Utah: craft ...

Barrels are pictured in front of Sugar House Distillery. (Sugar House Distillery)

(Sugar House Distillery)

SALT LAKE CITY — While small businesses across the nation are struggling, one industry is doing well. Craft distilling.

But running a distillery in Utah comes with complications.

Alan Scott, the co-owner of Waterpocket Distillery, said they are struggling to deal with rising costs, “It’s not just inflation. It’s inflation, supply chain, logistics, delays, Covid.”

He said not only has the price of shipping for his bottles tripled, but the bottles’ prices have also increased. 

He continued, “During times like this with inflation and other things going on. It is harder for us to compete with large national brands because they just have economies of scale, they have tons of cash, [and] they can weather downturns in the economy so much better than the small folks, right.”

Meanwhile, James Fowler, the owner of Sugarhouse Distillery, said they’re actually doing quite well, but mentioned how the alcohol business is tied with the state.

“If you’re a distillery in the state of Utah you only have one single customer and that is the state of Utah,” said Fowler.

The head of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services, Tiffany Clason, said, “I’m a strong believer and advocate in buying and shopping local no matter what the product or service is.”

She said she believes the department should do more to help these local distilleries. But a new program, Utah Proud will “not only have a dedicated employee to work with our local producers to provide better communication, better feedback, but this person will also be responsible for coordinating targeted programs.”

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Utah distillery business booming despite small business hurdles