Comparing Distilleries: A Treaty Oak Tour
If there were a normal day in the office of Social Distillery, it would consist of strategizing, growing social communities, coffee breaks and the almost regular calls asking, “What kind of alcohol do you guys sell?” We’re sorry to announce that, while we have ‘distillery’ in our title, we do not actually make alcohol (yet) – but we do “distill” social into real, meaningful business results. However, after countless calls, requests, and some internal desire we decided it was time to officially compare ourselves to an alcohol distillery. To sate our curiosity, we set off on a quest to tour one of our favorite local distilleries, Treaty Oak Distilling Co. in Dripping Springs. As soon as we started chatting, the similarities between our social distillery and their real distillery started flowing as smoothly as a platinum rum.
Despite being in the middle of renovating their 26 acres of land, they welcomed us with open bottles to stop by, learn about their process, and sample their spirits. To say we got a thorough education is an understatement. Jason Tolleson, Distiller, and Joe Castillo, Director of Sales, took us step-by-step through the magical journey from ingredient to spirit:
1. The first step in making premium liquor, such as Treaty Oak Rum, is to identify the finest ingredients. “If you don’t start with the best ingredients, you won’t end up with the best product”, says Jason. This immediately struck a chord with us, as a large part of our content generation process is gathering the highest quality raw content or identifying the best sources to curate from. And just as Treaty Oak uses the best local ingredients, Social Distillery uses the best local software, such as Spredfast and People Pattern.
2. Next is to cook down the initial ingredients: molasses, wheat, and/or corn depending on the spirit. These ingredients are put into fermenting tanks with water and yeast, where they ferment into a mash prior to distilling. Again, the similarities were immediately apparent. “We gather—or discover—our raw content and break it down into smaller, more distinct pieces that are optimized for social,” says Ryan Johnston, Director of Content at Social Distillery.
3. Once the yeast has settled, the mash or wash is added to a still where it is heated to a boil and then cooled to condense the vapor. There are many variations that can happen in this step to alter the flavors, such as adding botanicals to the still’s column to create the unique taste of Treaty Oak Gin. Social Distillery takes fermented content and refines it to a similar polished and unique state, perfectly blended for our clients’ communities.
4. After the distillation is complete comes the aging process. Again, there are many factors that can affect the flavor of the spirit, such as the choice of barrel and how long the blend is aged. To find the perfect balance, Treaty Oak periodically takes “cuts” from their American oak barrels to sample and determine if and when their product is ready. To Social Distillery, reporting is just as important as strategy and content generation. We measure the success of our efforts on a regular basis, learning from insights and adjusting when necessary.
5. The final part of our journey was sampling the final product. From the sweet and smooth Starlite Vodka to the rich and smoky Red Handed Bourbon, every sip was a playground for the taste buds. We like to think that people have an equally ecstatic experience with the content, campaigns and community management that we distill on a daily basis.
As the day came to an end, all of the magicians at Treaty Oak joined us for some Treaty Oak cocktails and a few games of washers. It was a perfect end to an amazing experience, and the one thing that was abundantly clear was that, despite which distillery we worked for, everyone’s goals are a quality product and a good time.