I went to a bottling party at Copperworks Distillery on Tuesday.
I guess various distilleries and even wineries are having these parties. It provides a fun experience that most people won’t get to have, some insight into the amount of work it takes to hand-bottle, and a decent kickback for doing some of their work for them. We spent about four hours bottling ~550 bottles of vodka and ~550 bottles of gin. There were 12-13 of us and they have a decent assembly line set up. Pallets on each end, at the front with boxes full of bottles that someone takes out, wipes down and passes to the labelers. As boxes get empty they pass to the pallet on the other end. The labeler adds labels to the front and back of the bottle, and passes to the writer. The writer notes the batch and bottle number on the label and passes to the blower. The blower uses compressed air to blow out the inside of the bottle and then passes to the filler. The filler is a machine that can take four bottles at once, two people work the machine and as bottles fill they are passed to the corker. The corker inserts the cork and passes to the “topper” who adds a sticker holding the cork to the bottle. Then they are re-boxed and ready to go.
I was the first step in the vodka run, but I got to work the filling machine in the gin run, and it was a lot of fun! The first half was definitely hard work and my hands were cramping from gripping the bottles so tight, but the filling portion was way more fun.
After the bottling was complete we had a tasting of their line of products (vodka, gin, tonic-barrel gin, and single-malt whiskey). I wasn’t a huge fan of the vodka or gins, but the whiskey is amazing. It is 106 proof, but doesn’t burn at all, and it has a ton of flavor.
For our help we each received a t-shirt and a substantial discount on a single bottle (and a 10% discount on anything else). You can guess which bottle I bought with my discount.
Anyway, it was a great experience, and knowing the discount and that I really like their whiskey at least, I know that I won’t pass up the opportunity any time that it comes my way!
If you have distilleries in your area (and are partial to spirits), then I highly recommend the bottling party experience if it is offered.