So, that premium Adult Beverage with the quirky backstory? Frank-Lin Distillery's flavoured bulk ethanol
Oh, I'm sorry, did your Foodie slash Discerning-Adult-Style Conspicuous Consumption magazine fail to inform you of this? I'm so sorry. You have heard the truth behind Santa Claus, right?
Via Hacker News, Animats writes
A sizable fraction of the liquor on the US West Coast comes from Frank-Lin Distillers Products. They used to be near the San Jose railyards, but now they're in Fairfield, with better rail access. They need rail access because the ethanol comes in by the trainload, in tank cars. One of their major suppliers is MGP Ingredients in Illinois. They used to be called Midwest Grain Products, and before that, Midwest Solvents. MGP provides pure ethanol to both the beverage and gasoline industries.
Frank-Lin has their own water deionization and filtering plant on-site, to take all the minerals out of tap water and have just pure water. They do some additional processing on the ethanol to remove trace impurities. Then they mix ethanol, water, and flavoring to produce beverages. They have about a thousand different products - vodkas, gins, brandies, bourbons, rums, and wines, but only about a hundred different recipes.
Each brand has its own bottle design and label. The Ball bottle-making factory is conveniently next door. Frank-Lin has an advanced bottling line that can automatically change from one bottle to another without a shutdown.
Frank-Lin also does "contract bottling" - they will make your brand for you. They used to make Skyy Vodka. Skyy was a virtual company - everything was outsourced, like a app startup. Skyy was bought by a major distiller a few years ago, which pulled production in-house.
Once you get past the marketing, that's the reality._
And if you want more substantiation:
"Fairfield officials praise new Frank-Lin Distillers plant"
Barry Eberling, January 21, 2012
Frank-Lin was founded in 1966 by Frank Maestri and calls itself “one of the major bottlers of distilled spirits.” It has an annual capacity of 10 million cases and blends, filters and bottles products produced by distillers throughout the world, according to the company website._
SKYY Vodka (via Wikipedia)
Actual production and bottling of the product was outsourced to Frank-Lin Distillers Products in San Jose, California. Bulk ethanol is delivered in railroad tank cars to Frank-Lin's railroad siding near the San Jose rail yards. The ethanol is mixed with filtered and deionized water, flavoring is added, and the product is bottled using a 42-head US Bottlers Machinery Company filling machine to ensure uniform product level._
The ethanol is purchased from MGP Ingredients of Atchison, Kansas, a bulk ethanol producer for beverage, industrial, and fuel applications. MGP uses wheat as a feedstock for the process. The distillation plant is in Pekin, Illinois and is currently powered by natural gas, but United States Environmental Protection Agency approval has been requested to convert the plant to burn coal._
"Booze bottler combines agrarian history with technology"
Winner's Cup Vodka, Potter's Gin, King's Bay Rum, St. Maurice Premium Brandy, MacTay's Scotch, Hombre Tequila and hundreds of others — including high-end brands like the blue-bottled Skyy Vodka — pour off the computerized, scanner-equipped bottling lines at Frank-Lin Distillers Products at the rate of 20,000 to 22,000 cases a day....
It's a $150 million a year busines...
And yet the company has so low a profile, not even [San Jose] Mayor Ron Gonzales was aware of it until two years ago.
"Bottle and case coders identify liquor products"
From San Francisco to Taipei, and in more than 79 countries, Frank-Lin Distillers' products are warming up dinner and cocktail parties every day. This distilled-liquor-products specialist offers contract-packaging services that range from package and label design to large-scale bottling of favorite vodka brands. With an impressive assortment of distilled liquor tanks and eight automated bottling lines, Frank-Lin's San Jose, CA, plant produces more than five million cases of liquor products a year.
"Frank-Lin Distillers Products" at Sourmashed.com Whiskey Database
Frank-Lin Distillers Products is the distributor behind a wide variety of wines and spirits. In terms of what we care about, the American whiskeys, they distribute at least seven different bourbons. In the case of Wathen’s, it is clear that Frank-Lin does not also own the brand, but in the case of the other six, Frank-Lin may be responsible for producing as well as distributing....