We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Walters and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I attribute the success of my brand to recognizing a gap in the market and developing a product specifically for that gap. My product is not the first of its kind, but other similar products are 2-3 times more expensive, which prices out many consumers. Finding a way to be profitable at 1/3 of the price has had its challenges, but it’s paid off big time, and validated a need within the marketplace.
What should our readers know about your business?
When I first got into bourbon, I knew I liked the way that it tasted, but I wasn’t able to detect nuances and describe the flavors that I was tasting. I read reviews of products that were beautifully descriptive, but I just wasn’t getting those notes. So I knew it was either a lack of experience on my end, or the writers were full of it. Seth Brown, a good friend of mine with an amazing palate, encouraged me to raid the spice cabinet to find cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla, black pepper, allspice and more. He said that if I spent time “nosing” (smelling) these ingredients, then nosing my glass of bourbon, the flavors that are present will be amplified in my nose and on my palate. Turns out, he was right! “Nosing kits” were not a new thing, but many cost upwards of $300, a price I just wasn’t willing to pay. In all of my searching, I never found a kit under $100, so I decided to create my own. As I started using my kit and sharing images of it on social media, interest grew and I started getting requests for purchase. I honestly never intended to sell the kits, but the interest level was high enough that I had to explore the idea. I eventually found a case with 18 screw top containers that was perfect for holding the ingredients together, keeping them fresh, and shipping them across the country. After working with a graphic designer to come up with a logo and package design, I launched an Etsy store and sales started to trickle in. I was fortunate to be interviewed on a few bourbon-related podcasts, and order volume really started picking up. My kits eventually caught the attention of Bespoke Post, and they’ve been an incredible partner on the wholesale front. Between retail and wholesale, I grossed over $100k in my first year of business, which sounds absolutely insane! I couldn’t be more proud of how far the brand has come in such a short amount of time. This year, I’m exploring subscription box opportunities, hoping to launch an expansion kit featuring 18 new aromas, and working on a refill option for those that want a fresh set of ingredients for their kit.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m a sucker for BBQ, so I’d have to take them to Heirloom Market BBQ in Atlanta. I’m also a huge craft beer fan, and The Nest in Kennesaw has one of the best selections around, so they’d definitely be on the list. Reveille Cafe is one my favorite brunch spots, so we’d have to work that in somewhere too. As far as bourbon goes, my favorite spot is my home bar. I’ve been growing my collection for the past 6 years, so it’s hard to find a bar with a better selection. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My beautiful wife, Anna! She’s been supportive of me from day 1. From letting me take over the dining room table, to dropping packages at the Post Office, I couldn’t have asked for a better partner through it all.
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