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How to start a distillery

Are you serious about starting a distillery? While every drink is different and every brand unique, there’s a typical route you must take if you want to become a distiller and create a tipple everyone will love. 

Suffice to say, there’s a lot of think about. So, we thought it would be useful to share some essential steps for distillery startups.

1. Create a business plan

A clear and well thought out business plan is essential for success. It’ll help you to define key goals, establish business milestones in those important initial years, and prove you’re serious about distilling – something that can help to attract partners and investors (if that’s what you’re looking for).

Wondering what to include in that plan? Check out our blog on creating a winery business plan – all the elements are similar to what you’ll need to include for your distillery set up.


2. Make your company legal

You would have had to make lots of key decisions in order to create your business plan: what your name will be, how much you’ll spend on setup and ongoing costs (this blog can help), defining your target market and your product.

Now’s the time to make things official – and this will likely involve setting up as a limited company. You can do this and find more advice on the Gov.UK website.


3. Sort your distilling licence

Next up, you need a distilling licence for starting a craft distillery. This will mean that you become a licensed spirits producer, and you’ll have to submit production returns and make Spirits Duty payments on every bottle you produce.

Handily, we’ve just covered the process in our blog – check it out here.


4. Register for self-assessment

The next bit of admin you’ll need to do is register for self-assessment if you are self-employed for the first time. Again, Gov.UK is where you need to do this and where you can access advice.


5. Open a bank account for your business

To protect your assets, it’s important to open and use a dedicated account for your business. It’ll also make it easier when it comes to sorting things like business tax relief and tax filing. Do some research to find the best startup business account – it might not necessarily be offered by your current account provider. 

Unless you have the capital available, you may need a credit card. So long as you’re smart with what you’re spending, a credit card offers the added benefit of building your company’s credit history, which could help you to secure additional finance later down the line if required. 


6. Set up accounting

This is a vital step that will allow you to record expenses and sources of income so you will have a clear and necessary understanding of your distillery’s financial performance. This blog on small business accounting is useful as a starting point.


7. Get business insurance

Just like licences, your business needs insurance to operate both safely and within the law. Good cover will protect your company’s financial wellbeing in the event that you suffer a covered loss. Make sure you read up on the different types and levels of business insurance and shop around so that you’re certain your policy offers the highest level of protection for you and your vital assets.


8. Define your brand

Along with your product, your brand is what will help you stand out and differentiate you from the rest. What’s your unique story? What colours will you use to represent your brand? What will your tone of voice be? These are just some of the things you’ll need to think about – but, putting in that extra effort to nail down your brand will pay dividends in the long run. 

Premier Labels can help when it comes to designing labels that represent your brand and appeal to your target audience. We’ve got plenty of experience helping spirits brands make their products stand out and gain the recognition they deserve.


9. Start marketing!

With all the above sorted, now’s the chance to start shouting about your brand from the rooftops and drumming up some interest among your target consumers. Create a website; set up social media platforms to share company news and related, engaging content; and don’t forget traditional channels such as print magazine advertorials (especially local and/or distillery publications).


At Premier Labels, we use over 30 years' experience to help businesses to create the high-quality labels that their brands deserve.

We create designs using metals, embossing, smart tech, unique swing tags, or any combination of techniques that you'd like!

If you've got any questions, or would like to chat with a specialist member of our team, get in touch today. We're on hand to discuss how premium labels could make a difference to your unique brand.

Alternatively, give us a call on 01483 423424, or email us at

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