Today we’d like to introduce you to Whit Rigali and Sam Chereskin.
Whit and Sam, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Although we are opposites (Whit Rigali, with a background in bartending and Sam Chereskin an agricultural economist) we bonded over our passion for spirits. 4 years ago when we decided to open a distillery the state was buzzing with energy. California overtook France to become the 6th largest economy in the world. San Diego was crowned the craft beer capital of the world. The cocktail revival movement was hitting full steam and there were not enough local distilleries to keep up with the demand.
The farm to table crusade helped make sustainable products and companies more mainstream. We found these times both exciting and inspiring and saw that with Misadventure & Co. we could take our passion and carve out our own niche at the intersection of these dynamic movements. Although we are opposites (Whit Rigali, with a background in bartending and Sam Chereskin an agricultural economist) we bonded over our passion for spirits.
From the outset of our company, we wanted to make high-quality spirits and to prove that doing good (socially and environmentally) could also be economically viable. While doing some experiments with white spirits the Natural Resource Defense Council released statistics about how much food the United States waste annually (40%).
Our distillery experience and Sam’s understanding of food systems put us in a unique position to be able to do something about this problem. Instead of looking at all that excess food from a perspective of functional fixedness we instead saw it as starches and sugars being thrown away (which is the basic building blocks to ALL alcoholic beverages). Once we had that lightbulb moment it took a year and a half of R&D and brand development to release Misadventure Vodka in June of 2017.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I don’t think there is a person alive today that would say opening a distillery is a smooth road. This is a highly regulated industry enveloped in the myth that is just now starting to shake off some of the cobwebs of prohibition. Although laws are liberalizing, such as the recent lowering of excise taxes and the ability to serve drinks at our own tasting room, getting through the city, state and federal bureaucratic quagmire is a very daunting task.
Sales and marketing is extremely important in the spirits industry. Many craft distillers make the mistake of putting all their thought and effort into creating their product and do not pay enough attention to actually selling it. Our bartending background was a huge advantage because it underlined the importance of branding and gave us insight into the needs of bartenders and owners.
Craft distilling in San Diego is in the same place craft brewing was 20 years ago. There is no playbook. We have to blaze our own path which is both intimidating and exciting!
Please tell us about Misadventure & Co..
We are the first distillery in the world to make vodka from excess baked goods from food banks. Picture your entire bakery aisle at your local grocery store. Everything gets donated every couple days to the food bank. After everyone is fed there is still so much left over that they have to throw most of it away. This is a result of logistics, storage, expiration dates, and the fact that foods like cakes and candy bars have no nutritional value so they are rarely given to the hungry.
The tragedy of it all comes into focus when you think about the resources that go into growing, packaging and transporting of that food only to have it end up in a landfill where it then produces dangerous greenhouse gases such as Methane. So we put a caboose on the food system and turn societies’ excess into vodka! Because we are a craft distillery we can make a high-quality spirit and offer it at an affordable price. We call this whole process hedonistic sustainability. The idea that you can enjoy yourself while doing good. In the end Misadventure Vodka finds a great balance between vice and virtue so everyone can finally have their cake and drink it too.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
The struggles and hard work of the previous four years were an essential learning period that helped form the foundation of Misadventure & Co. We started off with a focus on whiskey and found out relatively quickly that waiting 2 to 4 years to see revenue while it aged was not a good business model so we had to pivot to a white spirit that takes only a week to make.
As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. It was during this time that we began tinkering with a vodka made from excess baked goods and Misadventure Vodka was born. We have zero regrets so far because our missteps are necessary for growth. But we’re still in our infancy and are about to open a new distillery with a restaurant/tasting room attached, so ask us that question in another year!
- Suggested MSRP $22 for 750ml
- Address: 382 Enterprise st. Ste 104
San Marcos, CA 92078
- Website: www.misadventure.co
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @misadventure.co
- Facebook: @misadventureco
- Twitter: @misadventureco
Scott Obermeyer @ the Compass, Blake Carver, Whit Rigali