Distiller Finds Major Success Through LibDib’s Club & Online Retail Relationships

Penelope Bourbon Founders

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LibDib Maker: Penelope Bourbon

Location: New Jersey

LibDib Markets: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois

LibDib Brand Page: Libdib.com/brands/penelopebourbon

Securing relationships with wine or spirits clubs and big-box retailers can be a huge win for Makers–especially when it comes to brand development and sales. However, both types of these trade customers can be tough to get in front of–especially for a small batch distillery. 

LibDib’s Club program was created to help Makers gain access to programs where Buyers purchase in bulk and ship to consumers. This can be great marketing for new products. 

An example is Penelope Bourbon, a New Jersey based start-up distillery that launched in March 2019 and was started by Mike and Kerry Paladini, and Mike’s close friend and childhood next door neighbor, Danny Polise. Mike and Danny grew up in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and the two bourbon lovers began creating a product that everyone could enjoy and love.

During their first year in business Penelope Bourbon (named after Mike’s first born) focused on building local distribution and sales in New York and New Jersey. They found success in their local markets. As the brand continued to gain momentum, they looked to expand distribution into additional markets. They realized that having access to a large consumer base via major online retailers was going to be a key component to their growth and brand recognition. 

Penelope signed up on LibDib and began their California distribution in December, 2019. They quickly found success in the Golden state and have since expanded into additional LibDib markets, including Colorado, Florida and Illinois. 

Penelope CEO and Founder, Mike Paladini, says that sales into key accounts has been steady since the beginning. However, a major piece of Penelope’s success was a result of LibDib’s club and retail relationships. Working with the LibDib Clubs and Off-Premise Chain teams, Penelope was able to build a large, established presence and a revenue source through online retailers. 

From a consumer purchasing perspective, having access to clubs and online retailers has become the lifeblood of the company. Penelope says that LibDib has given them economies of scale.

“A careful combination of whiskey clubs and retail relationships has given us an incredible path to national distribution without being nationally distributed,” says Mike Paladini. “Our partnership with LibDib has allowed us to build amazing relationships with key online players. We have been able to capitalize on these partnerships to grow our small brand into something much larger.”

Penelope’s business with LibDib makes up 18% of their annual revenue and continues to grow. The company is able to handle larger club orders, which are managed seamlessly by LibDib’s team.

The company has also been able to launch into large retailers in new markets using the LibDib model. Penelope Bourbon recently started distributing in Illinois via LibDib. The LibDib team introduced their brand to one of the largest retailers in the state and they are now selling into several big box stores. 

“We had our Illinois license for some time but the business model of working with traditional distributors just wasn’t working for us in that market,” said Paladini. “LibDib made it really easy to meet the demand and allowed us to quickly gain access to large players. Their model made it a no brainer for us.”

In terms of the revenue generated by their relationship with LibDib, the company says that it’s becoming a larger portion of their annual revenue. “LibDib is a major part of our overall channel sales. Month over month it continues to grow,” he added.

Penelope Bourbon says the LibDib business model is “super scalable” for brands like theirs. As the LibDib footprint grows, the opportunities for Makers grow. It’s a mutual partnership and the LibDib team has become an extension of their internal team as well.  LibDib’s unique business model is a big value add for producers of all sizes looking to build their relationships with buyers. 

“This is a significantly more cost effective route to market for us,” added Paladini. 

Palandini’s advice to other Makers looking to expand their club business? Find clubs with members who are big enthusiasts of your product type. Do a lot of social media marketing that taps into consumers all around the country. Develop marketing efforts that are tied to real conversions. “It’s all about brand awareness and consumer pull.” 

Paladini finishes by saying, “With LibDib if you’re hungry to get your product to market, you can do it. Their model makes it happen.” 

Are you ready to work with clubs and online retailers? Learn more about LibDib’s clubs program here.