The first bottling of these craft spirits from this one-woman show sold out in a week. This entrepreneurial tenacity is why Sipsong Spirits is a winner of North Bay Business Journal's Wine, Beer + Spirits Industry Awards this year.
The Journal talked with founder Tara Jasper about the startup.
Describe your company
Sipsong is a gin-focused distillery. Bringing modern style gin to California, and someday the world.
What major accomplishments of the last year would your company like to highlight?
Releasing our first product. Indira Gin, she is 100% grape based with a botanical blend that is bold, balanced and beautiful in classic gin cocktails.
What are two or three key projects your company is in the midst of or planning to begin within the next year?
Working on creating a Sonoma County Foraged Spring gin for a gin club I’ve started for really Gin lovers. It will be one batch a year only 120 bottles will be made. Very very special.
What is something about your company and what it does that most people would be surprised to learn?
I became a pilot recently to fly gins up and down the California coast to top cocktail destinations.
From your experience in the wine and telecom industries, how similar and different is the craft spirits business?
Many similarities to wine, however, the regulatory space is much trickier. Seeing my husband (Dane Jasper, CEO of Santa Rosa-based Sonic) overcome the regulatory challenges of the telecom industry gave me motivation to believe I could figure out how the regulatory space works for Spirits.
I’d like to see the craft spirits business work together the way the wine industry does to bring more spirits focus tourism to Sonoma County. I believe this will happen as we all grow. We have a wonderful community of distillers here.
There are many reasons why this has happened but one of the things I’ve found so wonderful starting up is all the resources we have close by because of the wine industry. My bottles come from down the street. I picked up my 1,000-liter tank on a forklift.
The beverage district in Windsor is a really cool place to be. It’s full or craft makers and businesses that support us. It’s an absolute joy to work there amongst so many creatives.
What are your current line of products and MSRPs for them?
Indira Gin, $39.99. The Secret Sipper Gin Club, $89 (capped at 100 people).
When did your gin first hit the shelves?
How many units do you produce annually now?
In this first six months we have produced almost 150 cases.
How much has that changed from launch and will it change in the foreseeable future?
I made just 120 bottles, 10 cases, for my first bottling and sold out in just one week. From there I increased the frequency of my production to keep up with current demand, and I will continue to do so as necessary. Judging just from the reactions of gin lovers and mixologists to Indira gin in these first six months I am optimistic about the future for Sipsong and am enjoying all the lessons along the path of this journey of starting my first business.
It feels very good to have found a use for my incredibly sensitive palate. It had felt like a burden for much of my life, and now that I’m putting it to good use it feels like a super power.
7759 Bell Road, Windsor, CA 95492
Category: Supplier, Start-up
Year founded: June 2016. First spirit released April 27, 2018.
Chief executive, financial and operations officer: Tara Jasper
Employees: One-woman show
Major customers: Oliver’s Market, Total Wine and Spirits, Bitters and Bottles, Meadowood Napa Valley, Barndive, Spoonbar, Harmon Guest House, Dukes (all 53 locations are all major)